4x4 Truck Tires
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4x4 Truck Tires - What You Need To Know To Get The Right Tires

Shopping for new 4x4 truck tires, can be a daunting task if you know very little about your vehicle or your tire needs.  Luckily most 4x4 truck drivers know what it takes to be safe on the road.  However, anyone with a truck can benefit from knowing how to buy new tires.  Doing your homework is a great place to begin, congratulations.  Within this article you will learn about tires, when you should change them, what tire fits best with your needs, a few places to get those tires, and the best way to maintain your tires.

Do you need new tires?

Preventative maintenance should be done on your car at least once a month.  This is an easy way to see if your tires are safe to drive on or are in need of servicing and/or replacement.  If during your maintenance check you believe that your tires are in need of replacement then there are a few simple tests you can perform:

 

  • Quarter Test

The quarter test is done by holding a quarter upside down between the treads of the tire.  If you can see the top of George Washington's head, then the tire needs to be replaced as soon as possible.  You should test every tire as part of your monthly vehicle maintenance schedule.  Uneven wear and tear may mean that you need to rotate your tires or have them rebalanced.

  • Wear Bar Check

The narrow bands that appear in the notches across the tread of the tire are wear bars. If the wear bars are even with the tread depth, meaning only 2/32-inch of tread remains, that is the minimal legal tire tread depth.  This is a high risk in any form of weather. So, should you be able to wear bars, its necessary to replace them immediately.

Remember that obvious problems like flat tires from a puncture will most likely require replacement.  There is a slim chance that it could be repaired.  The highest possible chance of repair can be found on tires that:

  • Have not been driven on while it is flat
  • Have damage on the tread part of the tire
  • Have less than a ¼ inch puncture

Should preventative maintenance checks be done and you are not sure that your tire needs repairing, by all means, consults an expert.  Damaged tires are dangerous to drive on, but also know that worn tires are just as unsafe.  Do not drive on anything less than 2/32 inch tread, especially in wet weather.  You are more likely to lose traction and slide or hydroplane across the road.


 

How many tires do you need?

After you check you perform a maintenance check on your tires and have determined you need to get one or more tires, it is best to determine just how many you need to replace.  The following will give you an idea about selecting the right ones depending on how many you choose to replace. 

  • Replacing only 1 tire

Make sure you select the exact brand, model, speed rating, and load capacity as your other three tires.  Choosing a different tire will cause problems with handling and traction, which is an unnecessary safety risk.

  • Replacing 2 tires

Choose tires that are exactly the same or are better than ones you have on now.  You will then need to put these two on the rear of your vehicle.  This is because new tires will have better tread than your other and will grip the road better in extreme situations like rain or snow.  Most drivers are capable enough to control the front of their vehicle should it slip out of control.  There is little way to steer the rear of your vehicle. 

  • Replacing All 4

This is your best option, by far.  No this is not a trick to make you spend more money, it is simple fact that with four new tires your vehicle will get better traction and grip on the road.  Plus, it give you new options of changing the quality and size of your tires to suit your needs.

Which tire is the best?

There are several methods of finding the best tire for your vehicle.  You can consult your owner's manual, the placard on the inside of your drivers door closure.  Should this method provide more than one option, take a look at the sidewall of your current 4x4 truck tires.  This will give you the exact model that your original dealership deemed best for your vehicle.  Were you interested in possibly changing tires to suit your environmental needs, than you can always consult a dealership, store, or online tire finder source.  This method will allow you to input your vehicle's make, model, and year to find what options are available to you. 

This will present you will many options, but here is a short explanation of what each will mean for your vehicle:

  • Determine the Right Size
  • A tires size is a mix of different variables, so the size is:
    • Width, Height, and Diameter
    • Ratings for
      • Load-Carrying Capacity
      • Speed Handling Ability
  • Reading the Sidewall of your Tire (All the Information You Need)
    • Width
    • This is displayed in millimeters. 
    • Aspect Ratio
    • Basically, this is the height of your tire.  So, the bigger the number the taller the tire. A lower aspect ratio will give you higher tire performance.  Your typical all-season 4x4 truck tires will have an aspect ratio between 65 and 80.  This is then represented on the tire as a percentage of height divided by width. 
    • Diameter
    • This is displayed in inches.
    • Load Rating
    • How much your weight your tire can handle is the load rating.  Most tire websites, dealerships, and mechanic shops will have a chart that will give you a load index.  The load index would then correspond to a load amount represented in pounds.  You will then multiply those total pounds by four to have the total load capacity for your truck. 
    • Speed Rating
    • These are ratings placed by the US government, based on how well your tire can reach and maintain speed.  Most people purchasing 4x4 truck tires are not concerned with a great amount of speed, but downgrading your speed rating can make the tires less predictable and handling more difficult.
    • Consult the Uniform Tire Quality Grading System (UTQGS) website for more information more information on ratings, as well as other ratings.

What tire works with my driving conditions?

Now the most important factor for most drivers is the tires ability to match the terrain or weather they want to drive in.  Consider your driving conditions at their worst and at daily use.  A good all-season tire will get you through all seasons, but not through many extremes.  However, they will work better on a busy street with high traffic.  Snow or Mud tires are better for the extremes.  Now weigh your options.  If your best and worst conditions are relatively similar, then one set of tires will suit your needs.  Should it fluctuate then separate winter or extreme weather 4x4 truck tires should be included with your all-seasons.

With that in mind, lets look deeper into then needs of most drivers who want to purchase 4x4 truck tires:

Your normal set of 4x4 truck tires will have a higher load capacity than other types of vehicles.  This load capacity is controlled by volume and pressure of the air in the tires.  Tires with a “P” size are made to operate under lower pressures and loads.  The “P” stands for passenger vehicle.  Light truck or LT, will operate at higher pressures and heavier loads.  The ride provided by a P rated tire will be much smoother than the LT, but LT will carry the heavier load. 

Keep min mind that tires best for highway will have a rib tread design and off-road will have a more aggressive block patterned tread.  An easy way to distinguish different methods of use is to put them in two categories based on their all-terrain and off-road capabilities. 

  • All-Purpose
    • These are usually factory installed tires that will give you a quiet and smooth ride for all types of traction needs.
  • Sport Truck
    • This is the sports car handling with the ability to handle the suspension and load capabilities of most trucks.  The tread will reflect the typical street handling and all year traction.
  • All-Terrain
    • For your off-road 4x4 truck tire traction needs, these are a very popular choice for drivers who step off the street and into the natural environments.
  • Winter
    • These tires will handle all the snow, ice, and rain a storm can blow, while maintaining their dry road capabilities.  They will use a different tread that is softer and more pliable to allow for reliable snow and ice traction.  Winter tires should always be purchased in full sets, never split with other types of tires. 

Important Information On Tire Pressure And How It Relates To Your Driving Conditions:


With all this information, you can pursue price shopping for 4x4 truck tires as some of the popular local locations like Wal-Mart, Sears, and JC Whitney.  Do not forget to shop at great online locations like Ebay Motors, Amazon, and Stylin' Trucks.