As 4×4, or sports utility vehicles, tyres can be more expensive than ‘regular tyres, you may have toyed with the idea of using the latter to save money. I mean, a tyre is a tyre anyway. Right?
If you do think that, then you probably wondering why different tyre are even sold – regular car, versus the 4×4. Well, there is a difference between the two.
As the SUV becomes more popular, and more people are opting for the extra flexibility this type of vehicles provides, the range of tyres on sale has increased. We understand that this choice can be confusing for first time 4×4 drivers so before you just grab the cheapest tyres on sale read on a bit further – it’s important you understand the differences between the two tyre types.
The footprint of the tyre, and it’s traction, is vastly different between tyre types. One is more suited to regular road use than the other, and one will perform quite badly open terrain. SUV tyres handle very differently in various terrains, when compared with those from a saloon, for example.
If you were after buying a regular road car, and you didn’t something that could handle different types of terrain, then you probably wouldn’t need to visit somewhere like Saxton 4×4 and you wouldn’t be considering putting 4×4 tyres on a Citreon Saxo. Or, you shouldn’t be.
Car tyres are much more useful on hard surfaces like tarmac, it’s what they were designed for. The SUV flavour were specifically designed for, well, off road conditions. Grass, mud, loose rock, snow… A 4×4 was built for that, and so were the tyres.
The big physical difference between the two, is the type of tread. A 4×4 tyre tread is deeper, and the gaps between are larger. This allows for more traction on a wider of surfaces. Treads on car tyres are designed as almost polar opposites, since the worst that they are expected to cope with is the gravel in your driveway – even then you are meant to take it slowly.
Mud Vs Tarmac
When driving through mud, which is what the majority of off road driving involves, a car tyre is going to get clogged pretty quickly. The smaller tread just can’t handle the consistency of the mud, much like a fine sieve is useless for straining rocks.
Compare this to 4×4 tyre: The wider spacing ensures that much less can get stuck, and the increased depth helps to maintain grip in even the slippiest of situations. Using our sieve analogy, it’s like we just poked massive holes in the mesh to allow the rocks to get through.
What about driving on regular roads? The 4×4 tyre sounds awesome
Indeed it does, sound awesome, but the properties that make them ideal for rough terrain make it a drawback for roads.
The increased rolling resistance, due to the wider spacing, just doesn’t make it a very good road tyre.
Hopefully this explanation has put you off swapping out your tyres for something wholly unsuitable. 4×4 tyres on a regular car just isn’t practical, nor are regular tyres on your SUV. In fact, 4×4 tyres wear down much faster on roads than the regular type, because of increased friction.
Image from Pixabay