Why choosing the right 4×4 tyre is so important

By Evan Spence 7 Min Read

It is time to replace or upgrade the tyres on your 4×4? It’s a tough purchase these days, considering the options out there as well as the cost of four or five new tyres. We’re always told that as four-wheel drivers we need light truck tyres. Passenger tyres are the work of the devil, and you can’t head bush on them. Having killed more factory tyres on press cars than I’ve had steak dinners, I tend to agree with this statement. The stock tyres that most four-wheel drives roll off the production line on suck. There, I said it.  

They have soft side walls, offer bugger-all traction on slippery surfaces, and they tend to last about as long as a family pizza on a Friday evening at home. Not very long. They are cheap, and chosen for that exact reason – once you drive the vehicle off the dealership forecourt, the vehicle manufacturer cares not about your tyres. Being a consumable item, why would they? 

Advertisement

This isn’t good news for us four-wheel drivers though. It is also why you hear people say time and time again, that ditching the factory rubber for something more meaty is the best way you can improve the off-road ability of your 4×4. Not just for improved traction, but for robustness over harsh terrain.

Nobody likes getting a tyre puncture, stronger tyres are your key to success. Let’s take a closer look at some of the options available on the market today. 

Highway-terrain 

Pros

If you are looking for a quiet ride, excellent grip on-road and strong performance and handling in wet conditions, a highway-terrain tyre is the best bet. Highway terrain tyres also generally have better wear characteristics compared to more aggressive all-terrain or mud-terrain rubber.  

Cons

Where they will let you down is in muddy off-road conditions. The same tread pattern that results in a quiet ride on-road, is their weakness off-road. A less aggressive tread design fills with mud, and can’t bite through the soft terrain. Highway terrain tyres are also more prone to punctures, but reportedly perform really well in sand as they float over the top instead of digging into the sand. 

All-terrain 

Pros 

Loads of all-terrain tyres these days utilise the same tyre construction as a mud-terrain tyre with a less aggressive tread pattern. This provides better wear characteristics as well as more grip on-road compared to mud-terrain tyres. If you want a stronger tyre that offers some improvement in grip over a highway-terrain tyre 

Advertisement

Cons

Being a compromise, all-terrains aren’t as good in mud as a mud terrain tyre. Nor are they as good as a highway tyre on-road. Funny that. For most four-wheel drivers, however, they are the sweet spot for on-road and off-road driving. 

Hybrid four-wheel drive tyres

Pros 

Hybrid tyres are the step between mud-terrain and all-terrain tyres. They should feature a strong carcass, with aggressive side biters for traction in muddy ruts. Hybrid tyres offer good off-road ability, with decent on-road handling as well. Having a strong carcass will make most hybrid tyres resistant to punctures. Also, they just look cool, yes I’m shallow… 

Cons 

Hybrid tyres won’t be as capable as mud-terrain tyres in thick mud, they also will be louder than most all-terrain tyres on the road. Still, they fill a gap in the market for someone that wants to drive harder or more technical terrain on the weekend and drive their four-wheel drive to work during the week. 

Mud-terrain four-wheel drive tyres

Pros 

Mud terrain tyres provide the ultimate performance when it comes to grip levels in muddy terrain. Key features are wide gaps in the tread blocks, which are also deeper than all-terrain or hybrid tyres, that allow mud terrain tyres to dig for harder ground. Good mud terrain tyres will also self-clear mud from the tread blocks when spinning. 

Cons 

They are heavy, so your four-wheel drive will use more fuel. They are also usually noisier than most all-terrain and hybrid tyres. This will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. On-road handling, especially in wet weather will be compromised also. If you drive through deep mud regularly, this is the compromise you’ll need to make. 

What else should you look out for?

As well as selecting the right style of tyre, you’ll also need to choose tyres that have the right load and speed rating. The information you need will be on your tyre placard. This is especially important if you have a GVM upgrade, that has a specific load rating. Read on to see a breakdown of load and speed ratings for 4×4 tyres. 

Load ratings 

1825kg
2850kg
3875kg
4900kg
5925kg
6950kg
7975kg
81000kg
91030kg
101060kg
111090kg
121120kg
131150kg
141180kg
151215kg
161250kg
171285kg
181320kg
191360kg
201400kg
211450kg
221500kg
231550kg
241600kg
251650kg
261700kg

Speed rating 

J100kph
K110kph
L120kph
M130kph
N140kph
P150kph
Q160kph
R170kph
S180kph
T190kph
U200kph
H210kph
V240kph
W270kph
Y300kph
VR210kph
ZR240kph

For a full range of four-wheel drive tyres, check out the offerings from Kumho Tyres Australia. They have a four-wheel drive tyre to suit any terrain and every four-wheel drive.



Advertisement

TAGGED:
Share This Article
Leave a comment