Choosing the Right Tires for Your SUV

This post is Sponsored by 4 Wheel Parts. All opinions are my own. 
by Michael Satterfield

For your average person, the only time they think about their tires is when the warning light comes on, or when their dealer service writer tells them its time to change them. Selecting the right tire for a passenger car is pretty simple, match up the size, rating information, and select all-season, summer, or winter tires (everyone picks all-season). But for SUV and Trucks, there is a lot more to consider, will you be going off-road beyond just an occasional dirt road? Does your SUV need passenger car tires or light truck tires? Will you be towing? Are just a few of the questions SUV owners need to consider when selecting their next set of tires.

On small SUV and CUV vehicles, passenger car tires are going to be most common, but if you own a large SUV or plan on towing or going off-road, Light Truck tires are the only choice and they are a little more complicated than your standard passenger car tire. First, I suggest you look at your OEM owners manual to see what the minimum load, speed, and temperature requirements before you start shopping. Then you have to look deeper into how you will be using your vehicle. 

Passenger Car Tires vs. Light Truck Tires

Passenger tires are designed to give lighter SUVs a more car-like ride on the highway but aren't designed to support heavy loads. Passenger tires also shouldn't be used when towing or hauling heavy payloads, using the wrong tire can cause tire failure or delamination. Passenger tires also don't perform well in off-road conditions and are less puncture resistant than Light Truck tires. Passenger car tires come in All-Season, Summer, and Winter versions, the most common being an All-Season. 

Light Truck tires are designed to support not just the weight of a large truck, SUV, or van, but also support the towing and hauling capabilities of those vehicles. They have heavier sidewalls and are more resistant to punctures, because of this many all-terrain tires are rated as Light Truck even if they are equipped on smaller SUVs. The thicker sidewall and more aggressive tread patterns do increase road-noise, vibration, and can affect the ride quality. 

If you have decided to go with a Light Truck tire like I did, you now need to look at a few other options. I knew I wanted to go with Toyo Open Country tires, since I wanted a tire that could perform both in the city and on backcountry dirt roads, and I have used them in the past. But Toyo like every manufacturer offers variations of the Open Country series.

For Toyo, they are: 
M/T for Maximum Traction
R/T for Rugged Terrain
C/T for Commerical Tire
A/T for All Terrain
H/T for Highway All-Season. 

For the Cherokee which is mostly driven around town with occasional off-road adventures, the H/T was the right choice. But these descriptions are not the same with every manufacturer, BF Goodrich, for example, uses T/A, which means Traction Advantage but T/A is more of a brand rather than the type of tire. 

Now that you know the kind of tire you need for your SUV, the next step is buying them. I visited a few local retailers who mostly carried off-brand tires on had to order tires in. So instead of driving all over town, I used  I visited a few other online tire retailers but found that when you are shopping for truck and SUV tires 4 Wheel Parts is the much easier to use. Since they specialize in off-road vehicles the search results are only the top-rated brands you don't have to sort through pages of passenger car tires and off-brand tires. Plus with free shipping direct to my door within the same week, it was hassle-free. 

Once the tires arrived I drove over to a local installer and had them mounted and balanced, the Toyo Open Country's look great and give the Cherokee a nice stance while still riding comfortably around town, plus they give it added capability when we do some light off-road. To find the right tires for your SUV or Truck CLICK HERE.