TopAuto recently spoke to JP Cilliers, technical manager at Treads Unlimited, to find out what South Africans must look for when buying tyres for off-road use.
Off-road driving, or “4×4-ing”, is a popular pastime for local drivers and it pays to know which tyres are best suited for your applications.
Our Q&A with Cilliers is below.
If someone is an avid off-road driver, should they have a dedicated set of off-road tyres?
Cilliers said how often a motorist takes their vehicle off-road will dictate if they need a set of off-road-only tyres.
For off-road driving, he said there are three main variants of tyre to look out for:
- Standard All-Terrain (A/T) – Day-to-day driving and basic off-roading.
- LT All-Terrain – Similar tread to Standard A/T, but with stronger and more durable casting.
- Mud Terrain – Extreme off-roading applications.
Cilliers said the majority of Standard all-terrain tyres on the market are suited for “70/30 to 80/20 on-road/off-road” use.
With the LT A/T tyres, the tread compound is enhanced to provide more resistance against chipping and chunking than Standard A/Ts, he said.
“If an end-user does medium-severity off-roading, the LT type all-terrain would be a perfect balance for day-to-day and off-roading,” said Cilliers.
However, when it comes to regularly using all-terrain tyres off-road, it can “increase the wear rate of a tyre and can thus have an impact on the on-road capabilities.”
If a motorist is an avid off-roader that regularly traverses extreme terrains, Cilliers recommends a set of Mud Terrain tyres will be ideal in addition to standard all-terrain tyres for day-to-day driving.
When buying tyres for off-road use, what is important to look for?
Cilliers said if you’re buying tyres exclusively for off-road use, the mud terrain type will be the best – as these are suited for 80%+ off-road driving.
However, due to these tyres typically being larger in overall diameter when compared to the standard all terrain variants, motorists must make sure the mud tyres will fit in their vehicle’s wheel arches.
If not careful, the tyre edges can catch against the vehicle while on the move, “especially in articulating conditions,” said Cilliers.
Furthermore, motorists must consider the price of the product versus the quality, as South Africa has a wide variety of options from “premium, tier one products to cheapish imports,” he said.
“You really do get what you pay for in [the] majority [of] cases.”
If you are a beginner, Cilliers recommends starting with a lower-value tyre, as the chances of damaging them is higher. If you’re more experienced, Cilliers recommends you opt for a premium product.
“There are more than enough reviews, testing, and recommendations of all brands which can be found on different websites. The South African market is very big in off-roading and day-to-day SUV/bakkie users,” said Cilliers.