What 4x4 Tyres Do I Need?

Customers are sometimes confused regarding the difference between 4-wheel drive (4WD) and all-wheel drive (AWD).

 
The “4 by 4” (4WD) was designed specifically for off-road capabilities, but the way that front and rear axles interlock in 4WD limits manoeuvrability on dry tarmac. Therefore, drivers either switch manually between 2 and 4-wheel drive, or some shift automatically in response to a change in traction.
 
In contrast, AWD vehicles are usually in AWD permanently, because each wheel’s movement is isolated by a differential axle. Some AWD vehicles are intended for off-road capability whilst others are not. AWD is also useful on tarmac.
 
The distinction is really moot when considering tyres. What matters is whether you will use your vehicle off-road or not.
 
If your driving is exclusively on normal highways, you can safely choose from the same range of tyres as anyone else. The more time you spend on grass, mud and snow and the worse the conditions, the more you need true off-road tyres.
 
The best 4x4 tyres for a farmer will be substantially more rugged than those for the occasionally adventurous, but they respond sluggishly and wear quickly on roads. For the rest of us, there are many tyres that balance road performance with off-road capability.
 

Tread patterns

Tyres intended for only limited off-road use look similar to ordinary tyres. They may have slightly wider and deeper channels to disperse water and soft mud. Tyres designed for more rugged conditions often have an out-swept groove pattern and full off-roaders often have a knobbly design like those on a tractor.
 
These are only generalisations. Our tyre professionals are always on hand to help you choose the best 4x4 tyres for your specific vehicle and intended use. You can get in touch with a Protyre professional at any time using the online contact form.
 

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Mixing tyres

Different types of tyre on the same axle are never recommended. Opinions vary as to whether front and back tyres need to match, especially on a 4x4. Ask our tyre professionals for advice if you’re considering it, or only need two replacement tyres.
 

Tyre recommendations

Remember you need extra load (XL) tyres for heavy vehicles, or if you pull a trailer.
 
If your budget will stretch to it, Pirelli P Zeros are a great premium summer tyre for tarmacked roads. XL and runflat versions are available. The Pirelli P Zero Asimmetrico is recommended by Mercedes. For more off-road use, consider Pirelli Scorpion Verde All Season (recommended for Land Rovers).
 
Also in the premium category, Bridgestone offers Dueler, Ecopia and Weather Control tyres, while Michelin offers the Primacy 3, Pilot Sports and more rugged Cross Climate tyres.
 
More affordable summer tyres that will suit lighter vehicles in this class are offered by Falken. These include the Falken Ziex, Falken ZE914 Ecorun, and the Falken ZE310. These are versatile tyres readily available for most vehicles. For heavier vehicles and those that venture into worse conditions, the XL-rated Falken Euroall Season AS210 is a better choice.
 
For lighter vehicles and conditions also consider the (usually cheaper) Yokohama G91A or G95A, Toyo Proxes, or Dunlop Sportmaxx.
 
The more adventurous who need to optimise for off-road performance should look into the Falken Wildpeak, Bridgestone Dueler All Terrain, and Pirelli Scorpion MTR.

About the author

Dean Richardson

Dean is a Regional Director for Protyre who is also responsible for the running of our Protech Academy. The ...

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