Buying tires certainly seems like one of those tasks that should be rather simple, especially for 4×4 truck owners. Unfortunately, the truth is that purchasing 4×4 truck tires is often far more complex than choosing the right set of tires for a fuel-sipping economy car. Here are some of the basic things you should know before buying 4×4 truck tires:
Quality is important – 4×4 trucks are big, heavy vehicles that often have engines capable of performance that lesser vehicles could only dream about. This translates directly into a need for 4×4 truck tires that are high quality and likely to last a long time. Those with high performance 4×4 trucks should only look for 4×4 truck tires from reputable brands and backed by lengthy warranties. Remember that those warranties are only good so long as proper maintenance and tire rotation occurs.
Questions of application – Where will the 4×4 be going? How fast will it get there? These are critical questions that need to be answered before shopping for 4×4 truck tires. 4x4s that will be towing heavy loads need very different tires than those that will be used for the weekend trip to the lake campsite, or the 4×4 that never leaves city streets and has never used anything but its two-wheel drive mode. The fact is that truck tires used for towing heavy loads on pavement need to have special treads that are different than the treads used by those that will engage in even light off-road duty. City-bound 4×4 trucks need tires that can put up with the constant stop and go traffic.
Going big? Be careful – Some people find the allure of oversized tires to be attractive, and that is certainly understandable for people that happen to own a 4×4. Unfortunately, deviating from the standard tire size can cause many different problems while offering a few advantages. The downside to increasing the height of the tires used in 4x4s include changes to acceleration and towing profiles, inaccurate speedometer readings, and a vehicle that may be more difficult for some people to enter and/or exit. Whenever speedometer readings change, it is likely that odometer readings will also change. On the plus side, taller tires do tend to provide a slightly smoother ride under even bumpy road conditions, and may also increase clearance and approach/departure angles by a very small amount.
Going small is no piece of cake either – Going with smaller tires may create a more tactile ride in the city, but it can also cause problems off the road. On the other hand, grandma might appreciate being driven around town a bit more if she could get into and out of the 4×4 a little easier. Again, speedometer readings will be affected by the change in overall circumference, as will odometer readings.
Spare tires – Many pickup trucks and SUVs keep their spare tires under the rear frame. There is only so much room for a spare tire regardless of where it is stored, so changing the size or shape of a tire may mean having to use something other than a full-size spare when the inevitable punctured wall or blown tire occurs. Running with three full-sized tired and one spare can negate towing and/or the possibility of tackling trails. This means being stuck with a flat at the wrong time without a full-size spare is a bad idea.
Run flats – Run flats are very popular options for many 4×4 truck owners that find themselves constantly dealing with flat tires. It does not matter if one has a jaded ex, or works on construction sites riddled with loose nails, run flat technology is a great way to ensure that a punctured tire will get a 4×4 where it needs to go. The downsides to run flats include the fact that they are expensive, not as high performing, and can only be driven at low speeds once punctured/stabilized.