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What is the difference between off-road tires and standard tires?

4×4 off-road tires are the perfect solution for all off-road enthusiasts and people who struggle with overcoming difficult terrain on a daily basis. Matching the right type of tires allows you to avoid problems related to the lack of grip or steering. As with other solutions in this category, off-road tires can be divided not only by class but also by size and the way they were made. What exactly do the different off-road tire markings mean? How to choose tires for off-road vehicles with 4×4 drive? How to distinguish off-road tires from road tires? In the following guide, we will also try to suggest whether the off-road tires should be larger than the standard ones.

The most common off-road tire markings

When it comes to marking off-road tires, the manufacturer’s name is usually the most striking. Knowing which brands are responsible for the premium, economy, and medium-class solutions, you can quickly assess the quality and potential price of the tire on this basis. With the help of metric markings such as 235/65 R17, the width, profile, and diameter are successively determined. Reinforced off-road tires may also have information about the number of layers of rubber used in the production process. In American models, you can find markings such as:

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  • LR – Load Range
  • SL – Standard Load
  • XL – Extra Load

In Europe, the number of layers of the cord is expressed using the PR (Ply Rating) scale. All off-road tires must also have precisely defined indexes of maximum load capacity and speed. It is also worth noting that in the case of directional tires there will be an arrow on the tire indicating the rolling direction. For asymmetrical tire types, you will also find assembly markings such as Inside and Outside as well as Left and Right.

How to decode the remaining markings for off-road tires?

  • LT – Light Truck (tires for vans and pickups)
  • RF – Reinforced ( reinforced tires )
  • TL – Tubeless
  • AT – All Terrain (all-terrain tires)
  • MT – Mud Terrain (all-terrain tires for driving on mud and swamps)
  • HT – Highway Terrain (all-terrain tires for driving on the highway)
  • M + S or M & amp; S – Mud & amp; Snow (winter off-road tires for driving on snow and mud)
  • DOT – Production date (the first two digits indicate the week, the next one year)

More about tire markings in this post: Markings on tires – how to put them on read?

How to choose the right tires for off-road vehicles?

When choosing tires for off-road vehicles, it is worth focusing on premium class solutions, because they are the only ones that are able to provide the highest level of safety while driving. Better traction directly translates into lower fuel consumption and greater control over the car’s steering. When buying high-quality winter off-road tires, you should also remember to replace them in the summer season, which for tires begins when the air temperature starts to remain at least 7 ° -10 ° Celsius. According to the regulations in force in Poland, the same tires must be used on each axle of the vehicle, which, however, leaves some room for maneuver. Installing different tires on the front and rear axles, however, is not a very good idea as it can hinder the work of the vehicle’s differential. It is likely to also accelerate tread wear and reduce the comfort and safety of travel.

How to distinguish off-road tires from road tires

In the case of the vast majority of tires (excluding the models marked with the abbreviation HT), their purpose can be recognized with the naked eye by the number and depth of grooves. Off-road tires due to their intended use must have larger cavities, which in the case of ordinary road tires would not make much sense. The smaller number and depth of grooves translates into better grip on asphalt, the best example of which are, of course, racing tires.

How wide tread should off-road tires have?

In contrast to standard road tires, the off-road model is usually distinguished by a wider tread. In the case of off-road vehicles and SUVs, these values ​​usually range from 200 to 300 millimeters. It is also worth paying attention to the tread profile (height to width ratio), as a larger profile (e.g. 75%) makes it easier to maneuver in difficult conditions.

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Are larger off-road tires a good solution?

Although the larger diameter of off-road tires in theory seems to be an excellent way to increase the capabilities of a given vehicle, in practice it is not always the case. When deciding to install larger tires, make sure that they will not collide with the vehicle’s bodywork. Without additional interference with the suspension system, larger off-road tires can only worsen performance and increase fuel consumption. An investment in this type of equipment should go hand in hand with a modification to the bodywork, as it avoids situations in which off-road tires are worn as a result of contact with the fender or wheel arch.

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