You spend your weekends driving over rocky terrain or through muddy passes, which means your off-road tires take a regular beating. To extend their lifespan and protect your investment, follow these 3 essential guidelines.
1. Store Your Off-Road Tires Properly
If you use your vehicle as a daily driver as well as an off-road machine, you'll want to change out your tires before you hit the surface streets and highways. Storing your off-road tires can be dangerous, however, because certain conditions will deteriorate the rubber.
Protect your tires from the elements by storing them in a climate-controlled area rather than a garage or shed. Avoid exposure to:
- Sunlight: Keep them away from windows and doors to prevent fading
- Moisture: Store them in a basement rather than a garage in humid climates
- Heat: Keep them cool to prevent melting or deterioration
Slip each tire into a plastic bag, seal the bags tightly to avoid closing in too much air, then stack the tires on top of one another in a cool, well-ventilated space. Tire bags or totes are also useful to protect your off-road tires between excursions.
Remember that you shouldn't let a vehicle sit for long periods of time. If your vehicle is reserved exclusively for off-road trips, drive it around the block at least once a week to avoid damaging the tires.
2. Don't Rely on Self-Cleaning Tread
Many off-road tires are equipped with self-cleaning tread, which means the tread design releases clumps of mud and gravel that the tire picks up to facilitate better traction. While these tires are efficient while you're out on the trail, you still need to clean your tires manually.
Each time you return home from an off-road adventure, take the time to remove rocks, gravel, and any other hard objects from between the treads. Otherwise, you risk punctures and unnecessary wear, which will shorten your tires' lifespan.
If you use your off-road vehicle for "mudding," take the time to clear off all the mud and silt each time you drive it home. When mud sits on tires, it causes deterioration to the rubber and might rust the rims.
One way to clean your vehicle after an off-road adventure is to position a portable yard sprinkler beneath the undercarriage. Run the sprinkler for half an hour, then remove it and begin the detail work.
This is also a good time to check your tires for any damage that could impact your safety. If you notice tears or holes in the tire tread or walls, replace the affected tires immediately to prevent blow-outs on the trail.
3. Check Front-End Alignment Regularly
Suspension and alignment are key to the performance of your off-road tires and vehicle. Visit a trusted mechanic regularly to rotate tires and to evaluate your vehicle's front-end alignment for any defects.
When you install wider tires on your vehicle or lift your truck for off-road use, the alignment is more likely to change with daily use. Unfortunately, using your vehicle with improper alignment can cause accelerated deterioration of your tire tread.
Do not attempt to adjust alignment on your own unless you are an experienced mechanic. A mistake in this process can result in serious damage to your:
- Steering components
- Shocks and struts
- Bushings and bearings
Rotating your tires is also important for maintaining proper suspension and alignment. Since off-road vehicles might experience more wear on one tire than the others, you don't want to continually "stress" a single tire.
Off-road tires are often more expensive than the traditional variety, so treat them as an investment. Maintaining your tires will ensure they live out their intended lifespan. Plus, well-maintained tires are far less likely to cause accidents and blow-outs on the trail. Click here for more information on maintaining your off-road vehicle.