Last weekend we did a bit of training and afterwards over a cup of coffee we discussed tyres and their application off-road. I would say that good tyres are one of your first considerations when purchasing a new vehicle, in fact, your dealer may be able to rebate the OE rubber if you fit new tyres before rolling out the showroom. 4×4 tyres come in categories – Mud Terrain (M/T), All Terrain (A/T) and Highway Terrain (H/T), there’s also Light Truck (L/T) construction – each with its own benefits and compromises, which depend on the kind of driving you do. The main difference between the various types of tyres is the intended purpose. Each tyre type has different characteristics, so the decision as to which tyre to buy should depend on how you intend on using your vehicle. This should guide your decision as to choice – even though the aggressive look of a set of Mud Tyres may be what you feel like! For a wetter muddy environment, look for wide grooves and lugs for self-cleaning capabilities. The more aggressive the tread pattern, the more it will grip. With dryer climates look for tyres with narrower grooves to aid in the prevention of the case being punctured, a durable tread pattern with wider blocks, and a harder compound for durability.”A Highway Terrain tyre is what you’ll typically find fitted to your vehicle in the showroom. They have a tread pattern similar to those on a passenger car and are best suited to tar and gravel as they are light in construction and are quiet and smooth running. They will handle mild to medium off-road tracks, but not the more advanced trails. Manufacturers fit them with comfort (and) ride quality in mind for the motorist who isn’t using their 4×4 regularly off.They have less space between the tread blocks and visible channels that run around the tyre, improving its resistance to aquaplaning”.Small slits across the rubber improve traction – for improved wet-weather performance, a good quality tyre should have an extended filler in the bead to improve the lateral stability of a tyre, and a variable reinforcing overlay between the steel belts to improve ride comfort.
However, if you share the tar and trails equally you may rather opt for an All-Terrain tyre, very much an all-around performer. Stronger in construction than an HT tyre, designed to cope with rocks and ruts encountered on rougher trails. With a more open tread pattern, they are not as quiet as an HT tyre but they tend to be the tyre of choice for the regular off-roader. The downside is that the AT may not be as sharp in driving performance as an HT or as capable as an MT in the rough, but then you are buying it for its all-around performance.
Mud Terrain tyres are characterized by a deep blocky tread pattern with space between the lugs. They are of heavy duty construction and will take you virtually everywhere, on long stretches of tar they will be noisy and uncomfortable and not as fuel efficient as the other tyre types. They come into their own in wet conditions, mud and harsh unyielding terrain. They grip when you think you will not be able to go further, the wide tread makes them self-cleaning and able to dig for traction. `the strong construction is also beneficial against punctures. Dynamically they can lead to somewhat vague steering as well as slightly compromised braking on wet tar. If a tyre carries an L/T designation it means that it is manufactured to Light Truck spec and is thus stronger than a passenger type tyre, it will have a more aggressive tread pattern, good traction, a stronger sidewall, and be more cut and puncture resistant- the L/T designation is recommended for serious off-road conditions, as it also has a greater load carrying capacity.
All in all, assess your needs and do not compromise on a cheap tyre!