Tires, Choose the Right Tire for your SUV
Choosing the right tire for your sport utility vehicle (SUV) shouldn't be an uphill climb. Whether you are an urban commuter or a rugged off-highway kind of guy or gal, selecting the right tire for your specific needs can make or break the driving experience.
Tires influence the braking, steering, ride and handling of every vehicle--especially a SUV. Whether you drive an Land Cruiser, Explorer, Tahoe, Range Rover, 4 Runner, or any other SUV, your choice of tires will greatly affect your vehicle's capabilities.
You will find a variety of personalities offered in today's SUV tire market. Choosing the proper tire for your needs may seem complex, but it can be as easy as choosing athletic shoes.
Just as there are specific uses for athletic shoes, there are specific uses and conditions under which tires are designed to perform best. For example, soccer cleats are designed with deep, wide grooves that grip the field providing better traction in the grass while basketball shoes have a flat sole that creates better traction on the court. Picture a basketball player running up and down the court in soccer cleats. As you can imagine, quick stops and turns would be a problem. The same is true for tires.
As with shoes, the personality of a tire results from the characteristics incorporated into its design. If effective wet traction of a tire is what you need, you should look for a tread pattern that features a high percentage of void--grooves in the tread pattern--which function to channel water out from under the tire. If noise reduction is what you want, look for a tread pattern that incorporates harmonic cancellation properties; a process which absorbs noise instead of creating it.
SUV tires and athletic shoes alike are designed for optimal performance under different conditions. When purchasing SUV tires, consideration must be given to these design differences. This can be accomplished by determining the characteristics you like about your existing tires and what you would like to improve. By answering the following questions you will be better able to make the right tire choice.
*Do you drive your SUV strictly on-highway or do you occasionally go off-highway? What percentage of time is spent on each surface?
*If you spend most of your drive time on-highway, what do you like best or least about the way your vehicle responds to the road? Do you like the way it handles corners? Do you want better wet weather braking?
*Are you satisfied with your vehicle's ride comfort? How much jarring are you willing to tolerate when driving over potholes or freeway joints?
*Is noise level a concern? If so, what levels are you willing to tolerate?
*If you spend most of your time off-highway, are the surfaces you encounter hard-packed dirt or soft mud?
*What type of loads do you carry? Are you more likely to cart around passengers or heavy cargo and supplies?
Now that you have identified the type of performance you expect from your tires, you are ready to choose the appropriate category of SUV tires to fit your needs. Tires designed for SUV's can be divided into three categories; highway-terrain (HT), all-terrain (AT), and mud-terrain (MT). The HT, AT and MT perform differently pertaining to their design characteristics.
The HT tire is intended for heavy on-highway and light off-highway applications. The HT tread pattern is ribbed and less aggressive, allowing for better braking and traction on highways and streets. Closely resembling a passenger tire, the HT has an all-weather design, quiet ride, and the longest tread life of the three.
Acting as a bridge between the HT and MA, the AT tire is designed for moderate on-highway and moderate off-highway use. The AT tire offers a more aggressive tread pattern and heavier construction. In exchange for this increased durability, there are minor sacrifices in the areas of noise level and ride comfort.
As its name indicates, the MT tire is designed for heavy off-highway and light on-highway use. The MT tire design characteristics give it a much different personality than the HT. The MT has the most aggressive tread pattern, featuring deep wide grooves, allowing off-highway drivers to conquer anything in their path. The grooves grip loose dirt and rocks pulling the vehicle through any terrain. Due to the off-highway tread, the noise level is greater than that of the HT and AT.
Selecting the right tire for city or country driving requires some research. Yokohama offers a variety of SUV tires designed to meet the on and off needs and expectations of a wide range of SUV owners. And as a member of Tread Lightly!®, Yokohama promotes responsible off-highway driving..
For those who require a versatile, all-season tire, the HT Yokohama Super Digger V (SD-05) provides excellent handling and stability in rain, sleet or snow without sacrificing ride comfort. If you're a hard core off-highway driver, the MT Yokohama Mud Digger (Y812) will enable your SUV to dominate any terrain in its path. The AT Yokohama Super Digger IV (Y811) will meet the needs of those SUV drivers that require on-highway stability in addition to solid grip and handling in off-highway situations.
For those who drive light-duty trucks or mini vans, the Yokohama Y356 provides a smooth, quiet ride and delivers an excellent combination of traction and durability. And for the recreational vehicle driver, the Yokohama Y788R provides a wide range of applications where on- highway stability and high load durability are important.
After choosing the right tire, how you care for your tires greatly affects their on and off highway performance. The old saying, "prevent problems before they occur," is as true with your tires as it is with anything else. Yokohama recommends the following list of "tire checks" to be performed on a regular basis.
*Conduct visual inspections once a month to ensure that your tires are void of any cracks, punctures or other problems. You may have to get dirty, but it may keep you from being stranded out on the road.
*Check each tire's inflation pressure every three to four weeks to ensure they are inflated to their proper pressure. Inspect them more frequently in colder months, as tires tend to lose pressure quickly during cold weather.
*Balance and align your tires once a year. Unbalanced tires can produce a vibrating steering wheel, this can lead to uneven tire wear and suspension damage. Wheels that do not point straight cause rapid and irregular tire wear.
*Rotate your tires every 5,000 miles to further ensure even tread wear.
Daily maintenance of your tires and your driving style are both important and can affect the performance of your tires. Simply following some basic driving tips such as avoiding quick starts, hard cornering, and brake lock-ups will promote safe driving and actually save you money.
"Keep your driving style in mind when seeking to extend the life of your tires," advises Rick Brennan, marketing manager of consumer products at Yokohama Tire Corporation. "These driving techniques, combined with the proper maintenance will help extend the life of your tires."