Most 4×4 owners can be grouped into six categories. If you’re anything like me, there’s a good chance you occupy more than one group. But in the interests of simplicity and mainstream-thinking, the following categories (which should not be taken too seriously) define many 4×4 users, and what tyres they should purchase.
Arguably the largest group of 4×4 owners – those who own a 4×4, but almost never use it for its intended purpose. In many cases the vehicle was bought with the intention of camping, but when holiday time comes, they play it safe by booking a mainstream holiday at the end of a tarred road.
Suitable tyre type: Guess what? You don’t need an off-road tyre! Save yourself the money and stick to a highway-terrain tyre.
Farmers, builders, landscapers and everything in between. They own a 4×4 for practical reasons. The vehicle is a tool and a means to an end.
Suitable tyre type: The last thing you need is to waste time fixing punctures, so buy an LT (Light Truck) tyre that offers excellent mileage potential, a high load index, and preferably comes with a comprehensive warranty plan.
THE WEEKEND WARRIORS
Also known as trailblazers – thrill-seeking socialites who own a 4×4 so that they can hook up with mates, rip through a graded trail, light a fire, drink a few beers, and head home on Sunday in time for the 8pm movie.
Suitable tyre type: Be sure to pick a tyre that offers plenty of off-road traction and flexibility. You also want a tyre that provides reasonable strength, so an LT tyre should be high on your shopping list.
THE GRAVEL TRAVELLERS
Forming another large demographic within the 4×4 sector, these are very often family folk, or active singles. They plan multiple trips a year, and almost every holiday includes a portion of gravel travel to a lesser-known holiday destination. Quite often, this 4×4 owner will have a host of other interests, too, including mountain biking, diving, fishing, boating, quad biking, kayaking and more.
Suitable tyre type: Fit a quality all-terrain with great all-round traction, as well as key features that protect it against gravel. You want something that ejects stones (to prevent stone drilling) and you want a rubber compound that’s tough, but flexible.
THE MALL CRAWLERS
These are retail junkies. They didn’t buy a 4×4 to take it off-road, the vehicle is an expression of their “individuality”. You’ll often find them driving around shopping malls with colour-coded jerry cans and every conceivable off-road thinga-majig stuck, glued, screwed and bolted to the bonnet of their vehicle.
Suitable tyre type: Fit the biggest, baddest-looking tyres money can buy, and import special (read: expensive) valve caps. However, it’s important to remember that the more aggressive the tyre, the more noise and vibration they’re going to make; so be sure to order an expensive sound system too.
To them, a 4×4 is more than just a vehicle; it’s a transport device to an unknown destination. It’s freedom! Overlanders love to explore remote regions and far-off destinations. Many 4×4 owners aspire to this category; however, it’s unfortunately often restricted to foreigners and retirees, as – ironically − they’re the only ones who can afford the fuel bill, or the time off work.
Suitable tyre type: Your off-road exploits often involve remote areas and isolation. As a result, your vehicle is almost always heavily loaded, and often used over unpredictable terrain – potholes, ruts, rocks, roots, thorns, sticks, and broken tree stumps. The heavier your vehicle, the greater the force acting on the tyres. Couple this fact with increased road hazards, and you now have a high likelihood of tyre damage – very often sidewall related. As a result, your #1 requirement is tyre strength! Look for a LT tyre with a high load rating, excellent off-road traction, and the promise of a long tread life.
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