In recent years, SUVs (4x4s designed for the road) have been really popular. Tyre manufactures have introduced various models onto the market with varying characteristics to ensure that SUVs are smooth to drive. How to make a good choice without making a mistake If you want to know everything about 4x4 tyres and SUV tyres, this guide is perfect for you.
4x4 tyres and SUV tyres versus standard tyres: what are the differences?
The tyres for 4x4s are different to those for standard passenger vehicles. This is because 4X4s have different uses and characteristics compared to standard passenger cars. 4x4s and SUVs are heavier and more powerful. They can also cope with more difficult trails. For these reasons, 4x4 and SUV tyres are designed to withstand higher weights and more intense usage. The treads also have a deeper pattern. This means they can provide excellent traction even in demanding conditions.
Technical characteristics recommended by manufacturers
When selecting tyres to suit your needs, the first things you should consider are the technical recommendations from your car manufacturer. They will tell you the right dimensions, and the load and speed indices for the tyres on every car. The load index is the maximum weight that the tyres can support.
If you do not follow these recommendations to the letter, you risk getting a fine or worse, causing an accident. It is relatively easy to find this information in the car owner manual or in the door of your vehicle.
You can also check the codes on the sidewall of the original tyres. Let’s take a look at an example: 205/55R16 91V. The number 205 is the width in millimetres of the right kind of tyre for your car. 55 shows the height in this example (but it is always given as a percentage of the width). The load and speed indices are indicated respectively by 91 and V. 16 tells you the wheel rim diameter.
Choose 4x4 tyres or SUV tyres based on what you need
- Road tyres;
- 4x4 off-road tyres;
- Mixed 4x4 tyres.
Road tyres, perfect for SUVs
These tyres are designed primarily for city driving, especially on national roads and highways. They are easily identified by the “H/T” (Highway Terrain) marking which is usually found on their sidewall. Their performance is similar to that of passenger vehicle wheels. This is the kind of tyre you need for driving SUVs and 4x4s on the road.
These tyres have a less protruding structure, softer sidewalls and less resistance to tarmac for higher performance (grip, braking, smoothness).
You see them most often on SUVs, which can tackle a forest road easily, but which are poorly suited to really rough roads.
4x4 off-road tyres, essential for off-road trips
Tyres in this category are intended exclusively for off-road 4x4s. These very powerful wheels have great traction and you can recognise them by the “M/T” (Mud Terrain) marking on them. They are also very hardwearing. It really takes a lot to get a puncture in these tyres. Are you used to driving your vehicle up very steep surfaces, and rocky or muddy tracks? Then off-road 4x4 tyres are ideal for you.
You will notice how wide their rubber studs are, as well as their sturdier sidewalls and fairly shallow sipes. Their structure is reinforced by a complex tread pattern. The combination of all these elements makes 4x4 off-road tyres your best bet for optimal off-road driving.
However, despite their amazing performance, avoid using 100% off-road tyres to drive around town. They don't hold well on tarmac due to their special characteristics. This means they have less grip on roads, longer braking distances, and they sound louder on tarmac, etc.
Mixed 4x4 tyres
These versatile tyres which are identified by the A/T (All Terrain) marking are a good compromise both on and off the road. Does neither of the two scenarios given above apply to you? Then you should pick mixed tyres for your car.
They are ideal for those who need to alternate between city driving and off-road driving. They can also be used as SUV tyres. You can drive smoothly on them, they're quiet, and they have good traction on sand, mud and grass.
On the other hand, you can't expect too much of them in tricky environments, as you might expect. Also, they don't perform as well on tarmac as road tyres.
Choose your SUV or 4x4 tyres depending on the season
This is a parameter that drivers often overlook when choosing a tyre. Even though the standard wheels on most 4x4s improve driving quality, you can't count on them for a smooth driving experience or safety in winter.
Like other automobiles, 4x4s or SUVs must be fitted with special tyres during the winter season. So opt for winter tyres. They are designed to brave snow and icy roads efficiently. The good grip they offer in contact with water, snow or frost guarantees good safety and smooth driving on roads when the temperature is below 7°C.
How do you know if the tyre you have chosen is a winter tyre? Whether they are off-road, mixed or road tyres, you should check that there is a "M+s" (Mud and Snow) marking on the sidewall and the symbol of a snowflake surrounded by 3 mountain peaks (3PMSF).
However, if you don't live in an area with too much snow or don't like long mountain getaways, you should opt for 4-season SUV or 4x4 tyres. They can cope with mild winters and mild summers.
Top quality SUV and 4x4 tyres at Tyreleader.ie
Our experts have put together a range of quality tyres for you by famous manufacturers such as:
- Michelin (Latitude Sport 3, Latitude Tour HP, Latitude Cross, etc.);
- Continental (ContiSportContact 5P SUV, ContiCrossContact LX 2, ContiCrossContact UHP, etc.);
- Goodyear (EfficientGrip SUV, Eagle F1 Asymmetric 3 SUV, etc.);
- Pirelli (Scorpion Verde, P Zero, Scorpion MUD), etc.
There are other major brands of 4x4 tyres in our catalogue too, such as Dunlop, Blackstar, Goodride, Yokohama, Hankook, Kleber, Kumho, Linglong, GT-Radial, etc.
If you are looking for an SUV tyre, why not opt for one of our road models? The Michelin Latitude Tour HP is a summer tyre that is sure to meet your expectations. Quiet, economical and environmentally friendly, these tyres provide your car with excellent road grip, even on wet tracks. Driving feels exceptionally smooth when you fit your vehicle with these tyres because they have "stabiligrip" sipes to reduce noise.
If you’re looking at mixed tyres, Mud Terrain T/A tyres from BFGoodrich are a good choice for those who love off-roading They offer excellent grip on difficult trails and won't disappoint on tarmac. These tyres hold really well on tricky trails and won't disappoint on tarmac.
If you want some good all-terrain 4x4 tyres, the sturdy construction of Pirelli's Scorpion MUD is sure to appeal to you. The biting edges give them exceptional hold on slopes, as well as helping them move with ease through tricky terrain. They are highly resistant to cuts, shocks and tears.
Browse our collection to discover in detail our other 4x4 and SUV tyres.
Some practical tips for treating your tyres well
4x4 tyres are always mounted in sets of 4. So you can't change one or two wheels on one axle and keep the others.
Always fit 4 identical tyres whenever you have to change any. They must therefore be the same make and have the same dimensions, speed and load indices, tread patterns, etc. If you don’t comply with this recommendation, your gears won’t work properly. It would also deteriorate certain mechanical parts which are expensive to repair. Last but not least, check the inflation pressure regularly (at least once a month) to avoid balancing problems. You can also increase the lifespan of SUV or 4x4 tyres.
You now have all the information you need to choose the right 4x4 or SUV tyres to fit your vehicle's needs from our extensive catalogue on Tyreleader.ie.