Choose your tyres to suit the conditions
Sometimes you have to consider different rubber on your tyres, even though the brand new shoes you drove off the showroom floor aren’t yet down to the wear bar.
It all comes down to what type of driving you do. If 95 per cent of your driving is ferrying kids or tools during the week on smooth blacktop, then the factory-fitted tyres are probably a great choice.
The manufacturers choose those tyres because they give a great ride on smooth bitumen. They will have a more aggressive tread pattern than the tyres on a two-wheel-drive family sedan to cater for the odd gravel track or easy sand work but they will be firmly biased to smooth, urban roads.
Take them off-road, though, and they’re more prone to punctures and impact fractures than light truck tyres.
LT tyres also cope better with the additional weight that rapidly accumulates as you accessorise your vehicle with bull bar, long-range tank, recovery gear and the like.
Consider where you’ll be taking your 4WD over the next few years. If you know you’ll be off-road in heavy terrain at least once a month then strong, heavy shoes are a must. You’ll either need to mount them on a spare set of rims for bush play or learn to live with the harder ride and additional noise the purpose- designed rubber claws will bring. If you’re planning on towing a heavy camper you’ll need an even higher load rating.
If your favourite destinations are down reasonable tracks or on firm beaches you might be better off with all-terrain tyres — more aggressive than road-biased tyres but much easier to live with on the blacktop.
Once you’ve worked out where you’ll be heading and what weight you’ll be carrying, it’s time to talk tyres with the experts on the tyre stands such as Tyrepro, who are all dedicated off-roaders themselves.
If you can clearly describe how you use your vehicle they can easily steer you to the best fit for your personal driving style — a set of mud claws that need special rims and come out to play for the winter, or some tough LT tyres less likely to puncture as you crawl over sharp limestone rocks.
Whichever suits you, look for tyres with a good guarantee such as Falken’s Wild Peak AT, with great wet-weather performance and easy-on-the-ear road-noise levels, plus an 80,000km Australian guarantee.
© The West Australian