Gettin’ Tired

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The time will come when you’ll need to upgrade your tires. It will either be when your stock tires are finally worn out, when the trails you access become too much for your tires to grip on, or when your weather conditions warrant it. Picking the right tire will not only help give your Ford a better look, but can also make your travels safer with appropriate performance in weather and tougher sidewalls to protect from gouges made by rocks and debris. We’ll walk you through what you need to look for in off road and snow/ice tires along with associated costs.

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Let’s start with the tires everyone wants to have the All-Terrain Tires and Mud-Terrain Tires. Mud-Terrain Tires are designed with a tread pattern that allows the treads to self-clean and expose another lug to bite into the dirt or mud. These will also feature a tread pattern that follows onto the sidewall for further grip and thicker and more numerous sidewall plys for puncture resistance and usually are made of a softer rubber compound than Highway and most All-Terrain tires for more grip.

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It’s a popular style tire for trail trucks that will see anything. However, those bigger spaces between the lugs will create road noise and can be very loud as air gets compressed into the asphalt as the tires rotate. The air pressure is higher and when ejected to the atmosphere at the exit of the contact patch is where the noise comes from as the tires rotate. Those increased plys in the sidewall will make the ride bumpier and the softer compound will mean faster wear and less life and gas mileage, too.

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All-Terrain Tires don’t feature a tread that is as aggressive as the Mud-Terrain Tire. They don’t feature the same deep grooves and their self-cleaning properties aren’t as good as the Mud-Terrain, so while you can still take them on your local trail, the lack of a sidewall tread pattern and more lugs will not get out of any deep mud or silt desert situations. However, their performance on the highway while still being able to go where the pavement ends can’t be overlooked. Add the increased life thanks to a harder compound than Mud-Terrains and you can save gas over them for pluses as well.

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If you live anywhere that sees snow or ice, you’ll want to get a set of Snow/Ice Tires. What will surprise you is the compound in which a snow/ice tire is made in. It’s usually softer than most high-performance dry tires and the reason for this is as the temperature drops, the harder the tires compound will become and the less grip you will have. Most snow tires you’ll encounter will be studless and will sometimes have silica molded within its treads for additional ice traction without the need of tire studs.

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Studdable tires, on the other hand, can have studs installed for maximum ice traction. They punch through the ice and what gives the tires any type of grip. However, studded tires are not legal in a large amount of states. Check with your local vehicle inspection or state laws before buying studdable or studded tires.

It is possible to do your own tire installation, but you will need special tools, a good back, and precise aim when you use a tire bead breaker. It’s not a job for the beginner to tackle on their own, so this is a moderate to difficult job if you use manual tools. Otherwise, it will be better to have a professional shop install them. Prices range from a few hundred dollars on the DIY route and lower end All-Terrain tires and up to few thousand on the professional shop and higher end Mud-Terrain tires.

Justin Banner is a regular contributor to LS1Tech and JK Forum, among other auto sites.

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