Why (And When) Off-Road Vehicles Need Special Tires

SHARP & Sailun Tire Canada

Just as there are shoes specially designed for running, surfing, sneaking, loafing, hiking, wintertime, action sports, and more, there are also less-specialized shoes that strike various balances between performance, comfort, durability, and style without excelling in any particular area. Similarly, when it comes to the footwear you’ll choose for your truck or SUV, there are a few good reasons to upgrade to a more serious off-road tire, as well as a few reasons not to. If you’re looking to replace the factory rubber on your truck or SUV with something a little more serious, read on for an important list of tips, considerations, and situations to remember as you’re shopping around and deciding on a set.

Remote Travel

Owners of 4x4s who frequently travel in remote locations often look to a tire upgrade to reduce their likelihood of tire-related setbacks when driving hours from the nearest highway, city, or cellular phone signal.

Generally, factory-equipment tires on new truck and SUV models are chosen for delivering a blend of quiet, fuel efficiency, comfort, traction, and durability. However, factory equipment tires may be more easily damaged by hazards like potholes, rocks, and other obstacles in rough road and off-road settings.

Sailun Terramax RT tires on a blue jeep wrangler

While many 4×4 tires have some light to moderate off-road capability built in, shoppers looking for maximized durability and minimized likelihood of being stranded remotely by a puncture or blowout tend to look for an upgraded tire that’s designed to stand up to the abuse of extended off-road driving. These tires feature various structural reinforcements to help resist pokes and punctures from the ground beneath, much better than factory tires.

Take the Sailun Terramax RT tires, for example. They’re the off-road tire I’ve logged the most miles on in the most challenging conditions. Reinforcements built into the tire allow them to stand up to tremendous abuse, even on the sort of very rocky terrain that’ll make 4x4s shod in most factory rubber turn around and find a smoother path. Having personally observed 64 of these tires go through torture-testing hell and back, I’d happily tell you they’ll stand up nicely to abuse from rough roads and trails, rocky passes, and pothole season in the backroads of Northern Ontario.

Some drivers choose to run a 10-ply tire for added toughness and durability during heavy use, as well as increased load capacity. The Terramax RT tires are available in this heavier-duty 10-ply configuration if you’re one of them. Remember to always be aware of the type and condition of your vehicle’s spare tire provisions before any adventure. If you’re not running a full-sized, full-function spare tire, a puncture or flat could stop your trip dead in its tracks– especially if you’re towing a trailer. By selecting a tough and durable tire, you’ll significantly reduce the likelihood of needing to use that spare tire in the middle of the bush.

More Confident Adventuring

In addition to reducing the likelihood your tire will suffer death-by-stabbing on a sharp rock, specialized off-road tires add further peace of mind in other areas, too.

Key among them? A major boost in traction and toughness with minimal compromise to the overall drive.

Thanks to the latest in material sciences and computer design, today’s specialized off-road tires are able to deliver the grip and bite demanded by drivers, with minimal compromise to fuel economy or on-road noise levels.

With biting edges on the sidewalls and a tread design and compound built for strength and traction on rough and rocky surfaces, the Sailun Terramax RT tires are never more than a touch of wheelspin away from climbing, slogging, or crawling up, over, or through just about any off-road situation thrown their way.

In a modern SUV or 4×4, running an upgraded tire like this one provides the traction-enhancing hardware and software of your truck more grip to work with, allowing electronic and mechanical controls to do their job more effectively and with less stress on braking and driveline components.

From the driver’s seat, expect to feel your vehicle working less to achieve the same progress on the road less traveled, turning in a more relaxing and less dramatic driving experience.

Note that off-road tires come in many shapes and sizes, and are designed for a wide range of purposes. Always check with a retailer before deciding on an off-road upgrade tire, to ensure its properties and pricing match your priorities and the type of driving you’ll do. This will help make sure you get the best value for the dollar and don’t waste money on capability or features you don’t need by selecting a sub-optimal tire.

Even with their aggressive tread design, you’ll likely find the Sailun Terramax RT tires surprisingly quiet on paved surfaces, meaning less of a compromise to the overall driving experience. Tires like these offer drivers an accessibly-priced upgrade that maintains a quiet drive while delivering years of capability to grow into as your sense of adventure grows.

Seasonal Considerations

Though more pickup and SUV shoppers than ever are making the switch to dedicated winter tires, a large subset of owners still choose to run a single tire, all year round, on their machines. Tire manufacturers have responded by offering the 3-Peak Mountain SnowFlake (3PMSF) designation on their off-road offerings, and the Terramax RT is no exception. The 3PMSF symbol indicates that these tires are designed to stand up to use in winter driving, though the rating doesn’t relate to braking performance on snow and ice.

rock water snow in post

Drivers in more extreme winter climates will tend to run a dedicated winter tire in the colder months, though the Terramax RT makes for a winter-ready year-round tire in some climates, and offers added protection in shoulder seasons (spring and fall) when owners running seasonal tires may not yet have their dedicated winters installed.

Why Not to Upgrade Your Tires

Off-road upgrade tires are commonly designed to make a strong styling statement, adding to the visual flair of your truck or SUV, especially when mounted to a set of custom rims. Using special graphics and design elements on the sidewalls and their biting edges, tires like the Sailun Terramax RT can step up the look of your ride.

Just remember that upgrading to an off-road tire is a serious proposition, so make sure you’re okay with the implications.

If you don’t frequently do a lot of serious off-road driving if you’ll drive almost exclusively on pavement or gravel, or if you aren’t yet certain whether you’ll partake in off-road adventures with your new machine, sticking to a more modest tire may be best.

Some off-road tires can negatively affect noise levels, ride quality, handling, and the smoothness and comfort of the overall drive. Others can result in increased fuel consumption and decreased tire life, both of which cost you money.

If in doubt, head to your favourite retailer and discuss your needs, concerns, and budget for best results.