A Look at the Right Kind of Tyres for Your 4X4
posted on 21 March 2014 | posted in 4X4s
There you are, driving along the highway in your 4X4 when you glance off to the side only to see an oh-so-inviting muddy logging trail. "Can't pass this one up", you say to yourself, as you tug on the steering wheel and head off to 4-wheeler's heaven. Next thing you know, you're using your cell phone (if it works out in no-man's land) to call a tow truck. What happened? In the excitement of the moment, did you forget you still had highway tyres on your SUV? Oops!
Most light trucks come equipped with All Purpose tyres, which are fine for everyday driving. But if you're an offroad enthusiast, you'll want to take the time to find the tyre that's perfect for your offroad adventures. And there are plenty of options.
ALL-SEASON (All-Purpose) TYRES
These tyres are adequate for driving in all four seasons. Most carry an M/S designation (Mud/Snow) but are really meant only for light snow. They don't have the proper rubber compound for cold weather, nor the open tread block pattern for the traction provided by a snow tyre.
These tyres are a compromise for those who use their truck for general daily driving with only occasional off-road use. Surprisingly, they are designed with added grip for "all terrain", dirt, sand, wet surfaces, light snow and light mud. But they are also good for general highway use and are relatively quiet on pavement. If you're going to be driving in heavy snow or thick mud, however, you need to move on to a tyre designed with that purpose in mind.
If you drive in light snow sporadically, you don't necessarily need snow tyres--all-season tyres should do the trick. But if you live in a severe-weather climate (or do a lot of driving in heavy snow), snow tyres are for you. Snow tyres have an open tread block pattern for better traction and should be narrower. More importantly, they are manufactured with a rubber compound that is more flexible in cold weather. The colder the climate, the less suitable your all-season tyre becomes.
STUDDED SNOW TYRES
These are for icy winter conditions. They are "studded" (have metal posts embedded in them), allowing for up to 40% better traction in hard-packed snow and ice than an all-season tyre. The downside, however, is the increased noise level as well as the fact that traction is decreased on dry and wet surfaces. Beyond that, due to the fact that they tend to "chew up" the pavement, many regions have either banned them all together or restricted their use to certain months of the year.
Winter tyres provide better traction in snowy and icy conditions. Their tread patterns and tread compounds are specifically designed for winter conditions. These tyres perform better not only in snow, but also in slush and rain. And they're generally quieter than the snow tyre. Look for the snowflake/mountain symbol which means they are certified to have met specific snow traction requirements.
If you're mudbogging, you need wide tyres with large lugs. The lugs should have deep voids in between to expel the mud, allowing for better traction at each rotation. These tyres, however, are generally loud on the highway, although you may find some exceptions. Mud tyres are also good for rock climbing, sand and unpacked snow but do not perform well in icy conditions or in rain.
Two additional points to keep in mind ... don't try to cut corners by changing out only two tyres. All four tyres, whether they are snow tyres or mud tyres, should be the same. Two just won't do. And while the above list does not include any particular brand recommendations, the quickest, most reliable way to choose a good tyre brand is to talk to other offroad entusiasts and find out what they're using in your area.
So there you have it. Tyres are the most important truck accessory. Always make sure you have the right tyres for the right job and you'll never have to embarrass yourself by calling a friend to come tow you out of an ugly mess.