Australia is a 4wheel drive country with 4WD vehicles and tyres to get off the beaten track and explore its culture. 4 Wheel drive vehicles (4WD) employ all four wheels for individual movement over a terrain. So, to enhance the vehicle’s motion and safety during use, 4WD vehicles use special tyres built for the particular road conditions. These tyres are different from those of the regular tyres that we use commonly in our cars.
How is a 4WD tyre different from a regular car tyre?
There are 3 basic types of 4 wheel drive tyres, which include highway terrain (HT) tyres, mud terrain (MT) tyres, and all terrain (AT) tyres. A highway terrain tyre looks almost similar to a regular car tyre in terms of their determined use on city roads. Mud terrain tyres are specifically geared towards mud applications for easy movement. All terrain tyres can take off-road, and also take the pavement.
Let us see each type of 4WD tyres and how it differs from a regular tyre.
a. Highway terrain (HT) tyres:
These tyres are mainly designed to be used at high speeds, and more often, a sporty driving style. Since they are mainly designed to use on high speed, they feature a soft rubber component for improved traction control. However, there is a disadvantage of having this soft rubber; the tread life of HT tyres is very short.
The tread pattern found in highway terrain tyres tend to be shallower and less aggressive than AT tyres, and so the ability to handle mud and dirt is very less. So as a whole, a Highway terrain tyre is very similar to a regular passenger car tyres that are often used in sealed roads across the country.
b. All Terrain (AT) tyres:
The all-terrain 4x tyres cater to the need of almost all 4WD vehicle owners in the country. These tyres have stiff sidewalls for greater resistance against puncture when travelling off road. This is the perfect tyre for vehicle owners who want comfort on the highway and also have the ability to take on the odd track. The tread pattern found in AT tyres have wider spacing and are more aggressive compared to regular tyres and HT tyres. Wider tread pattern allows for easy removal of mud from the tread by means of centrifugal force when driving. Whilst being more aggressive than Regular and HT tyres, All Terrain tyres are still designed to be used on-road without any adverse problems. The extra aggression that is normally found in AT tyres indicates that they are able drive on rough roads as easily as possible. However, if you are going for a serious, heavy duty four wheel driving, then AT tyres may not help you. In that case, you may require heavy duty Mud terrain tyres.
Using AT 4WD tyres will allow you to drive thousands of kilometres on the highway and also explore some off-road destinations. A quiet and decent off-road performance, and a grip on the bitumen is what an AT tyre provides to its user.
c. Mud terrain (MT) 4WD tyres:
Mud terrain tyres are primarily made for hard core off-road driving conditions. They have aggressive, deep, open tread design having any void areas. These void areas are open enough that the mud that collects in the grooves are thrown out through the centrifugal force, leaving them open to provide grip as they roll back down into the goo. MT tyres tend to be wider than regular and other 4WD tyres. This is to prevent the vehicle from sinking deep into the mud by spreading the weight of the vehicle over a greater area.
MT tyres are very knobby and can often create noise and provide uncomfortable driving conditions at high speeds when used on-road. So, inexperienced drivers who use MT tyres on-road should take care to better understand the handling characteristics of MT tyres when used at high speed.
Choosing the right 4WD tyre for your vehicle:
When it comes to tyre replacement, price tends to be the deciding factor for many of us. In addition, looks count a lot too. However, there are two important factors that should be given due consideration when choosing 4WD tyres for your vehicle. Consider for what purpose you will be actually using the tyres, and the second one is safety.
How much off-road driving do you actually do? This is the first thing to consider when choosing the right tyre for your four wheel drive vehicle. If you spend more time on-road, then Mud terrain tyres are completely inappropriate for your vehicle. MT tyres are a good choice for your vehicle, only when you spend a vast majority of the time off-road. In fact, MT tyres offer poor road grip, which is dangerous especially in wet, slippery roads. MT tyres wear out faster compared to regular or AT tyres. They also create undesirable noises on-road, especially after they wear down.
So, if you are spending at least 80 percent of your time off-road, then MT tyres are the best choice.
All Terrain tyres are best for 4WD vehicles that spend around 60% of the time on-road, and 40% off-road. In addition, AT tyres perform well in almost all terrains like, sand, rocks, and light mud situations. They also provide better grip on the road than MT tyres.
Highway terrain tyres are the best if you are spending more than 90% of your time on-road. HT tyres provide superior grip on the tarmac, especially on wet roads.
Choosing the right 4Wd tyres for your vehicle is a daunting task. However, spending a little time thinking about exactly what you will be using your tyres for and considering the above mentioned factors, you can make your decision quite easily.
Australia is very famous for its 4WD vehicles, and most people explore the country by travelling in their 4WD vehicle. The best tyres to be used on a 4WD vehicle often depend on the sort of trip being planned. 4WD tyres, unlike regular tyres have aggressive tread patterns that allow them to ride smoothly on tough roads. While most 4WD vehicles are fitted with HT tyres, they are not best suited for some serious off road conditions. For serious 4 wheel driving, an AT or MT tyres make the perfect compromise.