Do NOT Buy Tires Before Reading This!
December 11, 2020
Aftermarket Tires are a very complex engineering vessel involving all kinds of construction, science, chemistry, geometry, physics, and lots and lots of virtual and real-world testing on all different types of vehicles in all sorts of climates and environments.
So getting into our top five things to know about tires video is for one, there are probably more than a hundred different things that you could know about tires, but for the sake of not biting off more than we can chew right now, we're gonna start with the top five most important things in this blog.
Table of Contents
Number one, first and foremost, before anything else, we have to take into consideration what exactly it is that we're gonna be doing with our Jeep, Toyota, truck, or SUV. the thing with tires is that there is not one be-all, do-all tire, and that's why there are so many different types of tire models.
We have all-terrains, then we have crossover tires, which are a blend of an all-terrain with the more aggressive shoulder lugs, like a mud tire. Then we have our mud terrains, highway tires, passenger car tires, light truck tires, mud plus snow-rated tires, all-seasons, all-weather tires.
And then we have our strictly off-road tires, like a red label or sticky, and there are a few others as well. Knowing which one of these we need is probably one of the most important aspects to know before buying tires.
See, we have to take a realistic approach to it and ask ourselves what we primarily use our vehicle for. Most of us have bigger eyes than what our stomach can handle and end up putting too much food on the plate and end up taking it home for leftovers, which is great, but a lot of the time we end up wasting the food by throwing it away after we're full. We try not to, but it just happens that way.
And sometimes that analogy is like when we're picking out tires. Are we really going to go off-roading as much as we think we are?
Do we somehow internally lie to ourselves and think we're gonna go off off-roading every weekend when in actuality or reality, we end up going once every few months. we forget that our wives make plans for us that we can't get out of, or the kids have events that we forget about and many other aspects of life that we forget about, and it drastically cuts down the amount of time that we thought we had for off-roading adventures.
So instead of thinking, we need a mud terrain for our daily driver, all of a sudden we start thinking about maybe a crossover or a hybrid tire, or maybe we're really honest with ourselves and a more fuel-efficient all-terrain is really gonna be the best tire for what we're using our own vehicle for. Besides, we can always air down the tires to gain additional traction when off-road. And this could go in the complete opposite direction as well.
Maybe we think an all-terrain would be perfect for our daily, but then we forget that we live in an area where there's a lot of mud where we go off-roading and we know we go off-roading often and an all-terrain is just gonna pack full of mud and we're not gonna get that traction that we need.
Whereas if we would have just purchased that crossover tire or mud terrain in the first place, it would have made our lives a lot easier. Or do we haul heavy loads and we need a tire that can hold up to the weight of the load?
Maybe we spend hundreds of miles a month on gravel roads, and we don't want a tire that grabs stones and chucks them at the vehicle behind us. Or do we live in the northern hemisphere and a severe condition-rated winter tire or three-peak mountain snowflake-rated tire is what we need. Plus with knowing exactly what we are planning to do with our vehicle, how we drive it is also just as important.
Are we super hard on our rigs and need a tire with a 60,000-mile warranty? Or are we a little bit more cautious when driving and safety is more important than anything else?
Which, of course, safety should always be a priority, but some types of tires, like a mud-terrain tire, for example, won't have the stopping power or stopping distance that an all-terrain or highway tire might have, and we'll get into that in a minute.
And guys, the list goes on and on, but thinking about what we are doing with our vehicles, the environments we're gonna be in most of the time, the climate conditions, those are all gonna come into play when choosing a tire and knowing that is the most important thing to know before purchasing new tires. And I think most of us realize this, but it never hurts to reiterate it.
Next on the list is that size does matter. Once you start increasing the size of your tires, you start increasing the weight of the tires, and then you start changing the dynamics of the suspension and drive train from what your vehicle's original factory tire size was engineered for. A larger tire will alter your speedometer, increase the rolling resistance, which decreases your fuel economy. Larger tires will also add additional strain and wear and tear to the suspension and drive-train components.
You'll start wearing through ball joints faster, bearings, U-joints, and multiple other drive-line components that will add up in costs after a while by replacing or even breaking those items more often. Larger tires may also include changing out the gears and the axles to help with maintaining the power output from the engine to the wheels.
When you add larger tires, the engine will work harder at turning the tires and a lower gear ratio will help with multiplying the engine's torque output. Think of it as a snatch block when you're winching, the more snatch blocks or pulleys you use, the less hard the winch has to work and the more weight it can pull. So the second thing to remember before buying tires is to accept the fact that there's gonna be more maintenance and additional costs with running larger tires.
Number three is that the tire itself is not there to hold up the vehicle. It's the air inside the tire that does. Sidewall strength and durability are critical to holding weight and preventing punctures and sidewall cuts or tears.
And when it comes to deciding what load rating to go with, there are several things to consider. Construction of the tire is one of them.
Nowadays, almost all multipurpose tires are what is known as radial construction tires, which means that the inner cords of the tire are designed in an angled cross-patterned design so that the stress points of the sidewall are more evenly distributed throughout the sidewall, which not only gives you a better, smoother ride, it doesn't flat spot like its counterpart, the bias-ply tire.
But because the flex points of the sidewall are spread out, it means that the tire is gonna run cooler in temperature at the recommended set air pressures.
One of the worst enemies that a tire can have is heat. The hotter the sidewall gets, the more likely it is to have what is called a blowout, where the air literally blows out of the sidewall and the tire goes completely flat in a millisecond. And if any of you have ever had a blowout at highway speeds, you know that it can make the car go in any which way direction, including head-on traffic or even in a rollover situation.
At highway speeds, that can be fatal. So make sure you are running the recommended tire pressures and check them more often in cooler temperatures as well. But the point is that 1, radial tires are better at reducing heat and increasing the ride quality, and 2, there are multiple-ply or load ratings for radial tires.
Typically the rule of thumb with the load rating is that the lower the load rating is, the lower the number of sidewall plies there are. Most passenger car tires have maybe a two-ply sidewall along with many of the light truck tires that may have a C-load rating. They'll typically have a two-ply constructed sidewall.
And, that isn't to be confused with the ply rating. Before load ranges were adopted, ply ratings, or the actual number of casing plies were used to identify their relative strength. Like a six-ply or 10-ply tire, and so on. Higher plies meant stronger tires or sidewalls and were able to hold more weight and were much stronger.
Nowadays many tire manufacturers will use a ply rating to identify how much weight the tire can hold. But most of us will refer to the alphabet letter to identify the load rating. For example, on a light truck tire, a light truck doesn't actually mean the truck is light. Well, it does when compared to an actual truck tire, which is referring to a semi tire or a commercial tire.
So when you see LT in front of the numbers, it just means that it isn't a semi tire or a commercial tire. But on a light truck tire, a B-load range rating or four-ply-rated tire will have a maximum air pressure rating of 35 PSI. A C-load range is six-ply rated and has a maximum PSI rating of 50 pounds per square inch.
A D is eight-ply rated and up to 65 PSI and the higher the alphabet letter, the higher the ply rating and load range. And guys, to find what those load range weight ratings are, they will be listed on the sidewall or when you're searching tires on TrailBuilt, those load ratings will be categorized under each specific tire.
You can also search in the filters by load rating as well. So the question is which load rating is better for your application? Well, two things, if you plan on hauling more weight, then a higher load rating is better to prevent blowouts. Keep in mind those higher-rated load-rated tires will ride harsher than when not loaded than as they will when they're loaded.
The other thing is that a higher load rating, typically means it has more plies or inner layers, which translates into a thicker, stronger sidewall to resist cuts and punctures.
Therefore, as we said in number one, know what you're going to be doing with your vehicle, including how much weight you'll be carrying. And also it's important to do your research on how each tire is constructed. Is it a two-ply sidewall, three-ply sidewall, C-load range rating, D-load, and so on? And again, we have all of that information listed under each respective tire on TrailBuilt.
The fourth important thing to know before buying tires is that different types of tires are made up of different types of chemical rubber compound compositions.
All-terrain tires are typically produced to have longer-lasting rubber, which will mean the tire compound may be harder and not as the adhesive feeling when trying to go off-road with them compared to a designated mud tire, which is designed to have a softer compound plus be more resistant to chipping or cutting. With that said, a mud tire will wear out much faster the more it is used on-road, whereas an all-terrain will last longer.
Most manufacturers will have their own proprietary blend of ingredients that make up the rubber compound and the only way to tell the difference is by using a durometer gauge. The word durometer means that it is the international standard for the hardness measurement of rubber, plastic, and other non-metal materials and will tell you how hard or soft the tire rubber compound is. Unfortunately, the durometer reading is not something that is readily available for each tire to tell you guys how soft the tire is.
The rule of thumb to follow is, though, a severe or dedicated snow tire will have the softest of tire compounds to maintain its cohesion or pliability in colder temperatures, which does aid in the tire's adhesion to the road in freezing temps or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
The longer-lasting the tread typically means the harder the compound is, which may not be the best-performing in colder climates. All-season or all-weather tires will have a middle of the road tire compound, and typically be a good blend between lasting a while for on-road driving and still having good quality adhesion properties in climates where a lot of driving is done in temperatures under 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Another good rule of thumb is that softer tires are better for off-road driving as they will be better at gripping on the rocks, dirt, and multiple other types of terrain.
This is where a three-peak mountain-rated crossover tire will work really well in situations where there is a good blend of on-road and off-road driving plus even better if that is in areas where there's snow, ice, or even cooler temperatures. Plus, crossover hybrid tires will usually have a better compound for resisting cuts and chips off the rubber as well.
And then, the fifth thing to know about tires before buying them is that because we mount and balance your tires when you package them with a set of wheels for free, that by packaging your wheels and tires together, you can save on average around $200 because you won't have to take just the tires and your current wheels to your local shop to have the old tires dismounted, and then pay a disposal fee for the old tires.
But then you'll have to also pay the shop to mount and balance your new tires as well, which depending on the shop could be quite pricey.
So save the $200 and use that towards your new wheels, package them together with your tires. And if you live in any state in the lower 48, we'll also ship them to you for free as well, saving you even more money. And, we also offer multiple ways to pay for your new tires and wheels, including a 0% plan as well. And those plans are all available when checking out of the cart from TrailBuilt.