There is no universal off-roading tire. Because drivers go off-road in all kinds of terrain across the United States and vary in their degree of adventurousness, there are specific tire qualities that differ considerably. Tread depth and shape, void size, and sidewall reinforcement are just a couple of these varying features. If you want to go off-roading but don’t know how that will look yet, read what to consider when buying off-road tires to gain some clarity and look forward to getting off the beaten path.
Your Nearby Terrain
If you’re in a relatively flat area, odds are you may not get the same use out of a tougher tire meant for more uneven terrain. For this reason, consider your area before anything else. While you may want to take your off-roading vehicle cross-country, odds are you’ll go off-road much closer to your home. If you are in a flat area, of all the different types of automotive tires, you’ll likely want to shy away from highly reinforced and heavy mud tires. Instead, try flexible and lightweight all-terrain tires.
That said, if someone is determined, they can find all kinds of terrain near them. So, gauge your level of adventure, too—if you’re invested in seeking out rough areas, then maybe you should consider more heavy-duty tires.
How Often You’ll Drive on Paved Roads
Another consideration when buying off-road tires is how often you’ll take them on paved roads. Mud tires are excellent at gripping sloped rock surfaces, but their deep treads and large void size are not conducive to frequent road use. This wears them out quicker than it does all-terrain tires.
Your Tire Size
If you purchase tires that are essentially standard-sized, then you can easily install them. If you’re thinking of getting larger tires for added grip, you may need to make other modifications. For example, many people will need to lift their suspension to accommodate larger tires and to prevent undercarriage damage from rocks they pass over.
Your Fuel Economy
The bigger the tire, the lower your fuel economy when driving your off-roading vehicle. If the terrain calls for it and you won’t use them often, then large tires may be necessary. But if you’ll go off-road in tamer environments, consider a lighter tire so you don’t overwork your engine constantly turning heavy tires.