You have purchased your off-road-ready truck or SUV and have spent a large budget installing all the extras that make it a true off-roader. You now own an absolute beast of a vehicle that can genuinely go anywhere. Newly shod with off-road tires, which look impressive due to their size and rugged appearance, the question is how long will they last?
All-terrain tires, used for a combination of conditions, can expect to last 50,000 miles. Used exclusively for the purpose they were designed, specialist mud or off-road tires could last to 40,000 miles. If these tires are used on highways, the lifespan could quickly reduce to 5,000 miles.
Off-Road tires are a specialist subject. The type of tire your vehicle is shod with, where your vehicle is used, how you look after your tires, how your vehicle is maintained, and your driving style are all factors that will strongly influence the life expectancy of your rubber.
How Long Do Off-Road Tires Last?
Before we look at the life expectancy of off-road tires, let’s look at the different types available.
The main types of off-road tires are:
- All-terrain tires
- Mud Tires
- Rock Tires
- Snow Tires
All Terrain Tires
These tires are the most versatile for use in an off-road vehicle. Not only can they handle many different off-road environments, but you can use them regularly in everyday situations on paved roads. All-terrain tires generally have the following characteristics:
- A tread pattern which is designed to improve traction on unpaved surfaces
- Stronger reinforced sidewalls, which are more robust than regular road tires and provide added strength and resistance to damage
- They are made from a softer rubber, which has greater flexibility and better traction.
The lifespan of all-terrain tires is about 60% of that of regular road tires. Due to the compounds used, the estimated distance you will achieve with all-terrain tires is about 50,000 miles.
Of course, for that cost, you are getting a tire that has a balanced range of capabilities and is more suitable for your off-road vehicle. They can help you traverse a field, travel down a dirt path, or on a gravel road, enabling you to travel to the campsite.
Mud terrain tires are part of a group of specialist off-road tires. They have wide track blocks with deep gulleys between the tread, which help them achieve traction in the muddiest of conditions. Most mud tires actively clean themselves of any mud caught in the tread.
As the name implies, mud terrain tires score well in very muddy environs while also providing a good grip on dirt, snow, and gravel. These tires are built for the off-road; any use on normal paved roads or highways will increase the wear rate exponentially. On paved roads, the large tread generates excessive road noise and will make the vehicle feel unstable.
If they are used mainly for the purpose they were designed, you can expect to achieve a 40,000-mile range with mud tires.
Another tire firmly in the specialist off-road tire group, Rock tires are rugged and are designed around their abilities rather than their looks. Rock tires are often a multi-ply (or cross-ply) design.
They are very well reinforced, so they won’t easily puncture on sharp rock edges. They are designed for a specialized purpose; these tires are very capable in extremely rocky or sandy terrains. In contrast, although they are ideally suited to the rocky conditions, that is where their usefulness ends. On all other surfaces, you should use another option.
The life expectancy of rock tires is proportional to the conditions to which they are exposed. Rather than normal wear and tear, if used in an extremely harsh environment, the tires may be subject to damage.
Snow tires are not off-road tires but should instead be described as seasonal tires. Regular tires do not handle cold weather very well as the rubber becomes brittle and inflexible. With this degradation comes a loss of traction.
The rubber compound used to manufacture snow tires is designed to remain flexible to temperatures as low as -400F. They will maintain their grip in the iciest of conditions. Irrespective of the type of tire you have shod your off-road vehicle for the summer months, we strongly recommend changing to snow tires for the winter months.
Snow tires’ wear rates will be subject to the conditions they drive in and the driving. Tire manufacturers advertise that, on average, a set of snow tires will last up to four seasons. If the
Tires are used in extremely harsh environments with significant icing on the road surface; the wear rates will be greater.
Low mileage drivers using their vehicles in moderate conditions will achieve a longer life expectancy than drivers who drive long distances in colder climates.
If the temperature increases above 400F, you should change the snow tires for summer units. Leaving them on as the temperature gets higher will result in increased wear. The compounds that make the tire effective in colder temperatures cause a higher wear rate in warmer conditions.
How Do You Care For Your Off-Road Tires?
Apart from the driving conditions the tires are used in and your driving style, the main contributors to a tire’s life expectancy are:
- Incorrect Pressures
- Incorrect wheel alignment
- Worn Shock Absorbers
- Temperature and Exposure to light and UV rays
Let’s look at the effects of each factor.
Contrary to regular passenger vehicle road tires, Off-Road tires will often last longer with lower pressure on trails; this makes the tires more flexible and grippy. It is best to use a tire deflator to lower the tire’s pressure (air down). A tire deflator allows you to deflate the pressure quickly, efficiently, and accurately in the tire to a level suitable to cross an obstacle.
Incorrect Wheel Alignment
As important as any other factor is to have the wheel alignment set correctly. Remember, wheel alignment is different for Off-Road vehicles. If you have a suspension lift system installed, the wheel alignment will be affected.
If you install a suspension lift system with offset wheels on your vehicle, in all probability, the factory wheel alignment specifications will not apply anymore.
Worn Shock Absorbers
An often-overlooked factor is the state of your shock absorbers. A worn shock absorber will cause cupping. Instead of the shock absorber keeping the wheel in contact with the surface, the wheel bounces on and off the road, causing an uneven wear rate.
Tires with life still left in the tread may need to be replaced if the shock absorber situation is not managed proactively.
Temperature and Exposure to light and UV rays
If they are off the vehicle, make sure your tires are stored in a dark, dry place, temperature-controlled within the allowable limits of the tire specifications.
The main component of tires is rubber. Rubber is very susceptible to oxidation which manifests itself in dry rotting. Eventually, all tires will experience dry rotting irrespective of how they are stored. You can, however, slow down the process considerably by keeping them away from light in conditions suitable for that specific tire.
If your vehicle is parked outside, and you cannot store them inside, it may be a worthwhile investment to purchase some tire covers. These inexpensive devices are available from Amazon or other retailers.
If they are used correctly, Off-road tires can last for many miles. How you look after them, making sure that they are primarily used for the function for which they were designed, driving carefully, and having your vehicle set up correctly are all factors that will influence the life expectancy of your tires.