One of the modifications that many people make to their off-road Jeeps and trucks after they’ve added replacement bumpers is switching out the factory tires and wheels for better, tougher, off-road tires.
As basic as this change may be, as you’ve probably already seen, it can be a pricey one – big off-road tires are not cheap!
A good set can cost a thousand dollars or more depending on the brand, size, and type.
That said, make sure you preserve your investment by buying the right ones for your vehicle and then using them properly.
When you use tires for other than what they are intended for or don’t take some smart precautions, they can wear out prematurely or be damaged more easily.
Choose the Right Off-Roading Tire
The most important thing to do is match your off-roading tire to your more common off-roading adventures.
- A/T – The most commonly used tire for off-roading is the All-Terrain or A/T tire designed to handle a variety of terrains reasonably well to cover everything from basic rock crawling and hill climbing ;to crossing water and driving through mud. If you like going out and tackling whatever obstacle you come across and still want to drive your vehicle on the road when you’re done, these are your best choice. Anything more specific would need a more specialized tire.
- M/T – Mud-Terrain or M/T tires have bigger, wider treads designed for driving through mud; strong sidewalls for airing down; and more flexibility, making them equally suited for rock climbing and snow driving. They’re not so great if you use your off-road vehicle on the road, too, though, since they make a lot of noise and aren’t designed for all the road friction.
- Sand and Snow – On the other hand, sand and snow tires are designed specifically to perform on those surfaces and aren’t as suitable for others. They grip these loose, deep surfaces well, but don’t stand up so well to road use, and are much less durable for rock crawling, hill climbing, and driving rough trails.
Tire-Saving Tips When Going Off-Road
Once you’ve picked the right tire and paid all that money, try to use your wheels the right way so you don’t end up with an irreparably damaged tire that needs replacing:
Balance and Rotate Regularly – Like any other tire, your off-road tires need to be balanced to perform correctly on your vehicle; balance and regularly rotate them so they wear evenly and you get the longest life out of your set with less chance of ending up with irreparable damage.
Know the Limits – Understand what type of use your tire is designed for and use it only for that; additionally, research speed and load ratings, recommended inflation, and other tire specifics to ensure tire safety and prolong tire life.
Air Down Appropriately – Going off-road, you can increase tire traction by letting a small amount of the air out of your tires. If you’re using mud, snow, or sand tires, air down to between 15 and 20 PSI as long as you’re driving on those surfaces; however, be sure to air back up once you’re on hard ground or pavement to avoid damaging the sidewalls.
Don’t Spin the Tires – Losing traction and spinning the tires creates unnecessary friction and tire wear, so avoid losing traction from accelerating too quickly, braking too hard, and taking turns too fast.
Avoid Getting the Tires Stuck – Though it will take practice, try to avoid getting your tires stuck in mud, between rocks, or in deep ruts that could damage them or your steering alignment. Always lean out of the vehicle to see where your front tires are going before you get stuck and carefully steer out of harm’s way as you negotiate the trail.
Off-Road Tires Need Proper Selection and Care
Off-road tires are a great initial investment in off-roading and an easy way to increase your vehicle’s capabilities so you can have more fun.
Still, as rough and tough as these tires may be in comparison to standard street tires, they should be carefully selected and properly used.
Keeping these tire tips in mind, you’ll be sure to get a full life from your expensive set of off-road tires!