Get The Right Rubber – The Truth About Off-Road Tires!


Need tires for your 4×4 truck or Jeep to go with its new open fender system and unsure about finding the right ones?

Then you’re among a large group of people who are equally perplexed, since there are so many tire and wheel choices out there when you’re replacing your current set.

When it comes to brands, each has its own pros and cons, so learning all of that information is best left to researching consumer or off-road forums to read about other people’s experiences.

Before you do that, go over this tire primer that will hopefully help you understand which type of tire you need and what the different types and details mean.

Understanding Tire Conformation

Because off-road tires have different qualities than on-road tires, it’s important to know the main parts of every tire so you understand the lingo:

  • Tread – Typically the fact to consider, tread is the part of the tire that contacts the ground and gives your vehicle traction.
  • Bead – The inner edge of the tire made of rubber-wrapped steel wire that is seated inside the inner edge of the wheel to create the airtight seal that keeps the tire inflated. Some off-road drivers with their new open fender system opt to add bead locks to prevent the bead from accidentally popping out of the wheel while going over rough terrain with aired-down tires.
  • Sidewall – The area that spans from the bead to the shoulder to give the tire its height. For off-road, a strong sidewall is critical when airing down to go over rough terrain or through mud, sand, and other softer surfaces.
  • Shoulder – This is where the tread meets the sidewall. Sharper shoulders produce quieter, more comfortable street rides. The more curved shoulders on off-road tires that fit perfectly under your new open fender system create a larger contact patch extending the tread nearly as far as the sidewall can be and are noisier and less smooth.

Understanding Off-Road Tire Types

There are three main types of off-road tires according to what you do with your truck or Jeep and where exactly you drive it:

  • All-Terrain – A/T tires are standard from the factory for most trucks and 4WD vehicles. These tires are designed mostly for street driving but also provide added traction over general street tires so you can do things like trail riding and minor obstacles.
  • Commercial Traction – Although C/T tires are similar to A/T tires, they are designed with meatier treads and stiffer sidewalls as well as focus more on off-road traction than on-road driving yet are at home on the highway even if a little bit louder and stiffer than A/Ts.
  • Maximum Traction – M/T tires are those designed mainly with off-road activities like mudding and rock crawling in mind and make an excellent match with your new open fender system. They have very pronounced wide treads, tougher beads, and tall yet flexible sidewalls that are perfect for airing down to increase the size of the contact patch when you need more traction.

Which Is the Right Tire for You?

Putting it all together, the type of tire you want to get should depend on what you plan on doing with your off-road truck, SUV, or Jeep.

If it’s your daily driver that you take out on weekends, look into higher performance A/Ts or C/Ts that will still give you at least somewhat of a decent ride on the street – and save the M/Ts for your off-road toy.

They’re great tires and will give a great deal of versatility for tackling both soft terrain and rocky trails and obstacles, bearing in mind that they’re loud and stiff on the road and will kill your fuel economy.

If you want the best of both worlds, a good set of A/Ts for daily use with a second set of M/Ts to use when you hit the trail might be your best option!

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