Big Tyres 4WD

WHY I FITTED BIGGER TYRES TO MY 4WD

When it comes to changing the rubber on 4WDs, heaps of people go for bigger tyres, although they aren’t really sure what they are getting themselves in for. I recently made the switch on my vehicle. I swapped the old 31s for a set of 33s. The bigger tyres brought their fair share of problems, but ultimately, I am going to keep the larger tyres on for the long-term benefits.

DOING IT RIGHT DOES NOT COME CHEAP

You can just slap bigger wheels on your vehicle and drive off into the sunset. It won’t hurt the pocket too much initially, but without making any other changes to the vehicle the costs will add up in the long run. Initially, I changed my 31s and put a set of 33s in. Instantly I noticed my gearing was now out. The vehicle was working much harder to maintain the same speed. In that first week of driving on 33s, I think my fuel consumption was between 2-4 litres higher over a 100km journey. I also had decreased torque and my braking was slightly impaired. The speedometer and odometer were also both now inaccurate.

I had been saving the shiny pennies, so I took my vehicle in to get the differential re-geared to match the bigger tyres. It stung the pocket, I am not going to lie, but the benefits once everything was working in harmony have already been apparent.

MORE CLEARANCE

For every inch you add in diameter, you receive half that in clearance. Going from 31” to 33” tyres gave me an extra inch of clearance. It doesn’t sound like much, but I have really noticed a difference over those touch-and-go obstacles.

TRACTION AND SURFACE AREA

I do a lot of beach driving in North Queensland and the bigger tyres give me a real boost with this. There is more tyre in contact with the ground, which gives me more traction on the sand. It also helps stop the vehicle sinking into the loose terrain.

ARE BIGGER TYRES THE BEST WAY TO ACHIEVE THIS

Many people have repeatedly said that to get more clearance, it would be much cheaper to get a portal axle kit and move the wheel centre lines below the axle centre lines. I agree that it would probably have saved some money, but I wouldn’t have had the improved traction and floatation that bigger tyres gave me. If you are not driving on loose terrain and don’t need the extra traction and floatation, then bigger tyres are probably not worth the hassle. But if you are you can seriously benefit.

Also, aesthetically, there is something nicer about a 4WD with bigger tyres. It transformed the vehicle into an obstacle-devouring beast and gives it a menacing appearance. However, before you make any changes to your tyres, make sure you are not breaking any regulations. Most states have limits on how much you can lift the vehicle by before you need an engineer’s approval. Make sure you find out with your state authority before you go spending those big bucks.


 

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Mike G
mgilles@dinga.com.au

Mike loves to travel on the open road, he's really into vehicles of any kind, especially those with 2 wheels.