Learn How to Understand 4×4 Tire Traction

Learn How to Understand 4×4 Tire Traction

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Knowing what kind of tire traction you need is an important consideration when choosing

off road tires. Understanding traction is vitally important to optimum on and off road tire performance.

Contact Patch
No more than a small patch of tire touches the ground or pavement at any given time. This small contact patch is all that keeps your vehicle under control.

Contact Pressure
Off road tire traction is the product of your tire’s contact pressure with the ground surface. Blocks of tire tread, separated by spaces in between, puts more contact pressure on the “tread blocks” for more traction.

Tread Blocks
Large tread blocks, siping, and wide grooves promote better shedding of water, snow, mud, and gravel. The irregular or zig-zag shape of the space in between the tread also improves tread cleaning and traction in slippery conditions.

Most of the

tire traction for off-roaders comes, not from the smooth tops of the tread blocks, but from the sharp edges that surround the blocks. More edges mean better gripping traction for most off road conditions.

On a recent hunting trip in Nevada, my hunting partner and I teamed up with a fellow with a Ford F250 4X4 diesel pickup. This truck is a fantastic 4X4 off-road vehicle, but we found out that good tires do make a big difference.

We were driving on rough jeep trails that went from dry, rocky and muddy to about 6 inches of snow and grades so steep, it felt like you were looking straight up at times. The truck did exceptionally well considering he had 75% worn all season tires. Because of these tires we got stuck several times and were unable to complete runs that otherwise would have been a piece of cake with better tires.

Adding siping and or grooves to the tread blocks creates more gripping edges and adds flexibility to the tire. This can make a Specialty or Mud-Terrain tire perform better on rocks and operate more safely on slippery pavement.

4×4 Tire Categories
As pointed out in the off road tire section, the important 4×4 tire categories are the All-Purpose, All-Terrain, Mud-Terrain and Specialty tires. Each tire is designed to perform optimally within its category.

Tire Traction limits
Expecting a tire to perform outside its category could be ineffective and downright dangerous. For example, driving a Specialty or Mud-Terrain tire on wet or icy pavement is asking for trouble.

What Type of Traction?

For mud and deep snow, wide tires with large, spaced tread blocks and lots of horsepower.

For sand, wide, rounder tires with little tread and more rubber.

For rocks, wide tires with large, spaced tread blocks that wrap around to the side. Added grooves and sipes further increase traction.

For all around traction needs such as mud, snow, wet and dry pavement, the All-Terrain tire pattern is the best choice.

Other factors that influence tire traction are tire wear, size, tire inflation, and rubber compounds used.

In conclusion – do your homework before selecting off road tires, to insure a more enjoyable on and off road experience.

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