It can be a hard truth to face, but the most important improvements to a 4x4 often occur between the steering wheel and the driver’s seat. In this guest post from The Offroad Adventure Show’s Alicia ‘Leash’ Blythe, she covers a couple of tips that can help your 4x4’s tyres get the grip they need when the going gets tough.
The research and development that goes into creating a high-performance off-road tyre is seriously next level these days, and getting a quality set of tyres under your 4x4 is one of the first modifications worth making due to the big difference it can make on the tracks. Crucial advances in specified rubber compounds, advanced multi-ply carcass constructions and fine tuning of individual tread patterns deliver the premium traction that often gets us the desired results off-road. Yet still, our poor tyres are the first to blame if we don’t conquer an obstacle.
Well, it’s time to call a spade a spade here; maybe it’s not the tyres letting you down, what if it’s you? You see, buying a premium, high-quality, modern set of 4WD tyres like those in Toyo’s Open Country range is just the start of getting you further off the beaten track. The next step is to learn how to use them! Like an apprentice with their first set of shiny tools about to get schooled in the art of a trade, it’s time to learn how to get the most from your rubber!
Now, we’ve all heard about maximizing grip and traction by dropping your tyre pressures to increase the tyres footprint, right? Well, let’s go a little deeper here, starting with how to use all of the traction available from your tyres. You see, a quality tyre that is designed for touring and off-road use will include specifically designed tread on the tyre’s sidewall too, which will increase your chances of getting through tougher obstacles. In the right circumstances and only at low speed, you can access this extra traction by turning your tyres slightly into an obstacle and slowly rotating them until they find some traction. This method can work wonders while climbing big rocks and boulders!
The next technique is to manage the rotational speed of your tyres to deliver the most traction. For example, in soft and sticky mud, traction is lost when mud completely coats the tyre. It just doesn’t allow the rubber to do its job; create friction and therefore traction. Tyre manufacturers spend a lot of time designing tread patterns to allow debris and water to drain out of the tread blocks, which is effectively a self-cleaning system. The thing is, this system relies on centrifugal force, which is achieved as the tyre rotates. When mud needs to be expelled rapidly to maintain enough traction to propel you forward, spinning your wheels quicker can actually help dissipate the mud faster. So, sometimes spinning your wheels actually helps find traction.
On the other hand, if there is plenty of “bite” available, like in tacky mud, constantly spinning your tyres just makes it harder for them to find traction. So, smooth throttle control will help maintain maximum traction, while giving the tyres a quick squirt of controlled wheel-spin when they get clogged up will be the best approach.
When spinning tyres and losing traction is not a case of clogged tread blocks and more to do with overpowering the surface you’re on, you’ll find easing off the throttle and gradually decreasing the wheel speed should allow your tyres to grab some grip again, but this is a balancing act where you don’t want to bog down by lifting off too much either. It’s a bit like walking on ice; the quicker you step, the faster you fall!