Before choosing tires for off-roading you need to evaluate the capabilities of the vehicle and take into account your needs as a car owner. Before, SUVs were used mainly for off-road driving, but now they are often being used for driving in the city due to the increased capacity of the car. Therefore, some off-road vehicles can be used on very rough terrain, while the others are rarely used in such conditions.
It is much more important to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations when using tires on an SUV than when using them on passenger cars. You must follow not only the recommended dimensions but also the requirement of the prescribed load indices and speed limits. The weight of an off-road vehicle is quite impressive, so the tires must be able to carry this weight, as well as other loads that have to do with engine power and a particular driving style.
If you are going to choose tires for an SUV, evaluate the quality of the rubber. It is easy to determine by the price and the popularity of the brand. Expensive high-quality rubber is more elastic, which provides a good grip on the surface.
You cannot choose tires that are equally well suited for off-roading and for driving on city streets. Therefore, there are options for each use case, as well as rubber, to varying degrees, intended both for the city and for rough terrain.
This road tire is labeled H/T and, as the name implies, is designed primarily for driving on asphalt roads. In some cases, this rubber is also suitable for off-road vehicles provided that driving on country roads takes no more than 20%. The appearance of the tires resembles regular tires for the city but the tread has a deeper pattern. The configuration of the blades on the tread ensures the perfect grip of the wheels on asphalt surfaces of any degree of moisture. Of course, on a dirt road, the car will be slightly less controllable.
High-performance tires are labeled H/P. They are effective only on a high-quality and smooth asphalt road, so we cannot call this category off-road. Usually, these tires are chosen for premium cars. It is unlikely that premium car models will be used for off-road trips. And because the flat road encourages high-speed driving, the tread pattern of these tires is often asymmetrical, best suited for high-speed driving.
These off-road tires are suitable for vehicles both on city streets and outside the city. It is marked as A/T. Moreover, the tires are adapted for all conditions equally. In the tread pattern of these tires, massive blocks are distinguished, separated by rather wide channels, which contributes to the high permeability of the tires and their ability to self-cleaning from dirt. But it is difficult to achieve full adaptation to all road conditions. Therefore, on smooth asphalt, such tires make a lot of noise, while mud or snow on the road will not even be noticed by the driver.
All-Terrain is an option that can be used on asphalt roads and off-road. Typically, the service life of such tires is calculated on the basis that 50% of the time they will move on asphalt roads and another 50% off-road. Although some manufacturers have a ratio of 60% / 40%. A/T tires will be the best option for those car owners who often go fishing or hunting.
The presence of the M/T marking on the side of the tire indicates that the rubber is the Mud-Terrain type. Such rubber is really the best for off-roading. Owners of M/T tires are guaranteed very good cross-country ability on difficult dirt roads or complete off-road conditions. On the other hand, these tires are poorly suited for asphalt, as they noticeably reduce handling and ride comfort, make a lot of noise and give the impression of driving a tractor.
Even though according to statistics, both All Terrain and Mud Terrain tires are only used 20% of the total mileage on asphalt, the quality of these tires should ensure a long ride on this surface. However, driving on hard surfaces quickly wears out the tires, and the higher the speed of the vehicle, the faster the wear and tear of the rubber occurs. As with A/T tires, the tread on M/T tires has a pattern of large blocks and wide grooves to help self-cleaning the wheels.
Narrow and Wide Tires
Narrow tires, having a large specific area on the ground, quickly «dig» in the mud to solid ground, catch on it and push the vehicle forward. They will also demonstrate the best mileage on snow crust, but they will probably have problems when driving out of a deep rut, on soggy loam and when climbing a mud slope.
Compared to narrow treads, wide treads have a larger contact area, which allows them to better grip on wet and viscous soil, hold a heavy truck on slopes, get out of deep ruts and overcome various obstacles. But if it gets into liquid mud, the grip will be zero, and the small specific pressure on the ground will not allow the tire to catch on the hard bottom of the mud trap.
So, we can conclude that any attempts to use off-road tires as universal lead over time to the loss of the qualities of tires necessary for normal driving in certain conditions. The coarse tread pattern is useful for off-road driving but reduces handling and comfort on asphalt. And urban SUV tires should be chosen for the city, but they are almost unsuitable for rough ground surfaces.