Are you planning on driving off the trail with your car, truck or SUV? Then the tyres on your wheels will have to tackle a whole new set of challenges. A proper grip on wet and dry roads is still necessary for off-road wheels, but additional factors like off-road grip, puncture resistance, and vehicle load ratings also come into play.
A good set of off-road tyres can carry a vehicle over rocks, boulders, sand, dirt, snow, mud, and other uneven surfaces. The tyres on the wheels will have specially designed tread patterns, and the grooves between the tread blocks will be broader. Off-road tyres will also have reinforced sidewalls for higher resistance to punctures.
For pure performance on tarmac, however, off-road tyres cannot compete with a good set of summer tyres. That's because off-road tyres have a reduced contact patch area, so there's less contact with the road surface while the wheel rotates. Used in urban or suburban terrain, they'll provide your truck with less grip and make more noise. Plus, there'll be a major dip in fuel efficiency.
Another thing to remember is that off-road tyres have a shorter tread life. That's because of the softer rubber compound used to provide off-road tyres with adequate performance on all surfaces and trails. The average is not lower than 40,000 miles, but some models can promise an average mileage as high as 70,000 miles.
All-Terrain tyres: If your vehicle frequently switches between irregular terrain and regular road – for example in an SUV commuting from town to country roads – then the wheels will most certainly benefit from all-terrain tyres. These tyres feature an interlocking tread design that provides the durability to conquer dirt, gravel, and grass, but also offer a quieter, comfortable ride on paved roads. Please note, however, that all-terrain tyres are not the same as all-season tyres.
Mud-Terrain tyres: If the wheels on your vehicle are usually scrambling way off the beaten track and into uncharted terrain, then mud-terrain tyres are an excellent choice. With more aggressive tread patterns, these tyres offer superb grip for the wheels in the most extreme terrain, particularly wet snow and mud. They are also incredibly durable, with tougher sidewalls to absorb the impact of rocks and damage from other off-road hazards.
Snow tyres: In regions where the conditions are predominantly ice and snow, consider fitting the wheels with a set of dedicated snow tyres. These car tyres will stay soft and pliant even in sub-zero temperatures. The tread will also have a series of sipes – tiny grooves and channels – that can dig into wet snow and ice to improve traction when driving in slippery conditions.