Off-Road Tires For Enthusiasts

TIRE GUYWant to know about off road tires?


My friend Brian is an off-road fanatic. The one thing in Brian’s life which he is very serious about is off road tires and  with them on his pickup truck or buggy, going places that many people in their right-mind would never attempt.

While Brian’s truck might see some road use, his buggy is a full-time sand and mud dweller. It’s a VW chassis with full roll cage and a re-worked Nissan engine. He is dead serious about off road and the buggy is his pride and joy.

Mention off-road tires and Brian will start an enthusiastic discourse. He is passionate about brands and sizes and he has his favorites. Off-road vehicles range from four wheel drive pickup trucks like the Ford F series and Toyota Hilux or the wagon bodies like Cherokee to the ATVs like the quads that are so popular now. Check these  articles on ATV tires and  light truck tires.

There are a few types of tread designs for use on trucks and SUVs.

  • Street tires are made for highway use, but they are not very good for off road applications.
  • All terrain tires are designed to do a little bit of everything. The Jack-of-all-trades tire is, unfortunately, a master of no terrain. So when choosing an all terrain tire consider what you need it for. Be honest with yourself about the conditions you will encounter.
  • Mud Terrain tires are ideal for mud, sand, snow and rocky terrains. They are especially good in wet snow and mud. The drawback is the noise they produce, especially on road surfaces. They will also wear faster.

Brian uses mud terrain tires since they give the best overall grip in sand, dirt, rocks and snow and reasonable grip in most other situations.

There is no tire perfect for all off road applications, there always has to be a compromise. Unless you have three or four sets of wheels and tires, like Brian has. When things get real serious, Brian starts to consider many factors, but he believes the bigger you go the better for airing down. Size does matter.

Airing down involves decreasing the air pressure in the off-road tires to increase the tire footprint and the larger the tire is, the bigger footprint.

Brian says he always airs down when driving on snow and sand in the buggy. In addition, on rough gravel tracks, the ride is much softer, but airing down may not be a good idea with some tires. The thinner the tire sides are the more air you can air them down, but thin-sided tires can be easily damaged by sharp stones.

The number one thing to remember when airing down is that tire manufactures do not guarantee using their tires with very low pressures. There is also a real danger that the tire may come off the wheel.

As soon as Brian gets back onto the highway he pumps more air into his tires when he‘s aired down the tires on the pickup truck. Special electrical pumps, converted air-cooling systems, or pressurized CO2 containers can be used for mobile air to air up your tires.

However, if you are like Brian, you can throw on one of your spare set of wheels and tires.


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