Tundra Tire Guide – Replacing Your Truck’s Tires
Many unanswered questions will plague us throughout life. Why did Mom like my brother best? Why is there air? Why did Toyota put a ‘P’ (passenger) tire on the Tundra? Unlike the first two, there has to be answer to the third even if it takes a lifetime to ferret it out.
Despite the fact a Tundra will never be mistaken for a passenger car, there’s no rule that light trucks require LT tires. As long as their Ps are load rated for the Tundra, they are totally legit and they provide a smoother ride. But the thought is a little like putting ballet slippers on a linebacker. So, let’s fix it.
Despite what appears to be a limitless array of truck tires on the market, the Tundra is selective. Truck tires for 18- or 20-inch rims are simply not as plentiful as smaller rims, especially terrain-specific off-road (but street legal) selections. Next, you need to stay close to 32 or 33-inches of tire diameter to maintain the integrity of your ECU-governed components. Light truck tires, generally, have a higher load rating than passenger car tires. If your Tundra carries exceptionally heavy loads, make sure your tire choice is up to the task.
Before buying new shoes for your truck, seriously consider what you want out of your tires. Should it perform magnificently in mud or sand or snow and ice? Is good old asphalt your terrain of choice with only occasional forays onto dirt? Different tread patterns on truck tires generally will do one or two things very well and the rest adequately with variations in ride quality and noise levels. We’ll start with highway drivers. If you log thousands of miles at freeway speeds, consider a higher speed rated tire. You may never hit the 130 mph of an H-rated tire, but that H will dissipate heat much better than a city-driver’s S (112 mph) rated tire.
All-season tires don’t have a great reputation. The components of a good hot weather, dry condition tire do not jibe with those of a good wet, icy, snowy tire. Adequate is never a descriptor we seek out, but if cost is a factor and your climate is not extreme in either direction, all-season tires are, well, adequate.
Here are some things to look for in all-season tire tread: A channel running down the center of the tread is designed to throw off water; siping (small tread cuts in the tread lugs) helps on icy surfaces; tires with low void areas have more contact area and higher traction.
All-terrain tires incorporate extra plies under the tread and in the sidewall and hold up well in a variety of terrain-both on and off road. You may not be able to rock crawl or navigate bogs or the beach, but the ride quality and gas mileage are high and road noise, low. With nearly any off-road specific tire, all of the above will suffer in direct proportion to how well they conquer rough terrain. But for backcountry Tundras, that’s the price you pay for the scenery.
For sand, look for as much sidewall as you can fit in your wheel well. According to Mickey Thompson Tires’ Don Sneddon, that height is important if you air down your tires. The taller sidewall gives you more flotation and a wider overall footprint. For mud, high void tread patterns – or lots of gaps between individual lugs – throws off mud that would clog lesser tire tread and bog the tire down. Angled tread blocks help this self-cleaning feature as well. Lug patterns that wrap around the tire shoulder give the tire more grip to pull out of both mud and deep ruts.
The answer to “Why is there air?” – to put in our light trucks tires, of course. The answer to “Why did Mom like my brother best?” If you don’t know, we’re not going to tell you.
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Filed Under: Toyota Tundra Accessories