People drive pick-up trucks for a lot of different reasons. If you want a small work truck that can hold all of your tools and 2x4s, you might choose a little Ranger. Or you might want massive hauling power for carting around campers, full truck bed loads of machinery, or to help move heavy items from one place to another. In that case, you might choose a Sierra 2500HD. Then there are all the people in between that like the idea of a pick-up because it means that you have the capability to haul small amounts, go off-road as needed, and transport other objects whenever the occasion comes up (even though it might not happen as often as you’d like). For those people, a Tacoma is often a good choice.
Regardless of your reason for buying a truck, you might not have put much thought into the kind of tire you use. While the actual build of your truck determines a lot of what it can accomplish, your truck’s tires also impact how well your truck can do heavy hauling, off-roading, or other tasks. Depending on where you live and what your truck needs to do, you may want to switch out your tires to help maximize your truck’s potential.
Living or working in the country presents a whole bucket of obstacles that city dwellers don’t have to account for. Things like gravel, mud, unpaved roads, off-roading, and the presence of water require you to use appropriate tires so that both you and your truck stay safe.
To start with, you may want to use larger tires than the ones that come from the manufacturer. A larger tire will help you clear obstacles that get in your way, travel over shallow water without worrying about water getting into your engine, and help you pull heavier loads. On the flip side of that, larger tires can also make your truck less stable if it’s not pulling a heavy load, and they can also make your brakes and suspension wear out faster. And of course, there’s the fact that larger tires will decrease your gas mileage to an even piddlier number than it is currently at.
The tread on your tire will also either help or hinder your work out on the farm, field, or forest. Generally speaking, the larger, deeper, and thicker your tread, the more difficult terrain it can handle. That said, tires that are considered all-terrain (AT), mud (MT), or mud and snow (M+S), are a lot louder than high-performance tread and decrease your gas mileage, also.
If you live in the city, do a lot of driving, or don’t need a lot of additional traction, your truck’s manufacturer tires are probably a good choice for you. Keeping a mid-size tire or smaller will ease up the tension on your brakes and suspension and can help increase your gas mileage, though you should be aware that going too small can put your truck out of balance.
In most cases, highway terrain (HT) tires are the tire of choice for people living in areas that mostly have paved roads. These tires don’t have very deep treads and are made of some heavy-duty material. These qualities make them quiet, fuel-efficient, cost-efficient, and long-lasting.
If your truck is more for show or racing, you can get some pretty sweet wheels to make the riding experience that much more enjoyable. High performance (HP) and ultra-high performance (UHP) tires have much shallower treads than highway or all-terrain tires and grip the road for easy maneuvering. They’re also very quiet, but they wear out much faster than other tires and can be a lot more expensive.
If you use your truck for a little bit of everything, you probably want to get all-terrain tires. These tires have pretty deep treads for good traction and also have sidewall blocking to protect the tire from obstacles such as curbs, large rocks, and potholes. All-terrain tires can be noisy, but they’re not unbearable, and they do well on both paved roads and gravel or dirt roads. All-terrain tires are more expensive than the highway tires and can reduce your gas mileage, but they give you excellent protection in the widest variety of situations.
Last but not least, whether you live in town or in the country, if you live in an area that gets a lot of snow and ice (such as we do here in the greater Salt Lake City area), you might want to get some dedicated winter tires. These tires are usually marked with M+S lettering or a mountain symbol with a snowflake inside of it. Winter tires often have a softer tread that won’t freeze or crack as easily as some of the harder rubber tires, and sometimes you can even get tires with little studs in the tread for even more support or traction on slick roads.