Choosing the best off-road tires involves a good deal of thought to be sure a 4WD truck or Jeep is equipped with the ones it really needs. Like other aftermarket equipment such as bumpers and suspension, tires need to be judged according to the use they will see and the truck where they will be mounted.
If you have any questions about the meaning of all those numbers and ratings, read below for a brief understanding of different tire rating terminology and its significance.
Tire Load Range
Load range is the range of weight that a tire can support at a specific pressure, usually designated at a standard 32 PSI. Along with load index, this number can be used to compare tires of the same size and tread, although it will differ between those of different sizes and types. Tires are classified in various letter ratings based on their load range. These class ratings offer buyers a rough way to gauge tire durability and strength.
Tire Load Index
Load index refers to the actual weight carrying capacity of a tire measured at the standard recommended inflation. This number increases the more weight a tire is able to support. When purchasing tires for an off-road truck, buyers must first know the weight of the vehicle when completely loaded with any add-on equipment like steel truck bumpers. That number when divided by four designates the required amount of weight a tire must safely support. Heavy off-road trucks require higher load indexes than passenger cars.
Tire Speed Rating
Speed rating is the number that indicates the top speed a tire can be driven without failing. It is based on the temperature of the tire while it is in motion, which increases as the vehicle is driven faster. For most off-road vehicles, a lower speed rating can be acceptable since these trucks are typically driven slower, rather than faster.
Tire Load Carrying Capacity
Overall load carrying capacity is an important consideration; however, it is not an official spec that comes with any tire or truck. This estimation involves looking at the overall off-road picture and comparing the above ratings to choose the most suitable tire option. Load carrying capacity is the maximum weight all the tires can collectively support based on the combination of load index, temperature or speed rating, and tire pressure.
Since all three specs interact on the vehicle in different ways, buyers need to consider all of them and how different ratings could affect that off-road truck. It is also essential to understand how load carrying capacity can change under different conditions, mostly in relation to tire temperature.
Higher speeds and increased weight both cause an increase in temperature, so it is important to gauge carrying capacity according to the conditions the truck is likely to encounter. This becomes especially important when adding aftermarket equipment like steel bumpers to the truck, as all that gear can drastically increase its weight.
Taking the different tire ratings into account, the important takeaway here is that off-road owners need to think about a lot more than just tire size and tread type when equipping their trucks. Preventing an accident or blowout and prolonging the life of off-road tires requires careful consideration about how the truck will be used, as well as the added weight of truck bumpers and other off-road gear. Only after considering the total picture can buyers pick a tire that is going to serve them well out there on the trails!