There’s no such thing as a ‘bad’ tyre, but, says Cooper Tyres, there is such a thing as bad advice.
Cruiser or Defender? Old Man Emu or Ironman? Cooper or BFGoodrich? Much like the age-old debate of ‘who-came-first-the-chicken-or-the-egg?’ the world of 4×4 is steeped in a series of heated contention.
Why? Well, because there’s no such thing as a right or wrong product, just a poorly applied one. All 4×4 products and accessories possess a series of strengths and weaknesses. The trick, however, is knowing how to apply those traits to your application.
For example, the Land Rover Defender is considered as a utilitarian vehicle, designed and built for extreme off-road use, but criticising it’s aerodynamics (or lack thereof), wide turning circle and firmer-than-usual ride comfort, would be like moaning about the recoil of a .44 magnum.
Tyres are exactly the same. Contrary to what many tyre dealers may tell you, there’s no such thing as one cheap, strong, lightweight and fuel-efficient tyre. One characteristic refutes another. For instance, a strong, puncture-resistant tyre are generally made from thicker material, making it heavier and more expensive to manufacture.
So, unless the dealer is selling the tyre at a loss, a heavy-duty, fuel-efficient, technologically-advanced, budget tyre remains a myth. But the question you should ask yourself is: Do you really need a thick, heavy-duty tyre?
There’s no such thing as a ‘bad’ tyre. However, there is such a thing as bad advice. It all starts with the dealer. Being a dedicated 4×4 tyre brand, Cooper offers a full range of products designed for various vehicle and off-road applications. However, things can go pear-shape quickly the moment one of these products are not applied properly.
In the end, the consumer pays the price, which it why it’s vitally important that you don’t rely solely on the dealer’s advice. So where do things go wrong? Typically, there are two scenarios: Number one is the heavy-duty use of a light-duty tyre, and number two: the light-duty use of a heavy-duty tyre.
The first point is straight-forward. The salesmen might have its own agenda. Perhaps he wants to get rid of old stock or make a quick sale. Subsequently, the dealer fails to ask the consumer the necessary questions about his 4×4 and general application.
These include questions like: Do you drive graded 4×4 trails? Do you visit remote regions? Do you deflate your tyres? Do you load your vehicle when travelling off-road?
Without the answers, the dealer incorrectly fits a light-duty tyre to someone who might be the heavy off-road type. The result? Endless punctures, sidewall damage, accelerated tread wear and a very dissatisfied customer.
The vehicle owner is furious and slams the tyre as “inferior.” But in truth, it’s the incorrect application that is at fault, not the tyre’s construction.
When it comes to light-duty use of a heavy-duty tyre, this generally relates to non-4×4 enthusiasts who use their vehicles as daily wheels with the odd occasion of a well-graded gravel road. These 4×4 owners often don’t want or need a heavy-duty tyre, but are influenced or pressured by pushy salesmen.
The result? Total tyre overkill, along with potential tyre balancing issues, and an increase in fuel consumption. Naturally, the customer blames the tyre, but in actual fact, he was ill-advised from the start. This brings us to a crucially important question: What is a heavy-duty tyre?
Generally speaking, tyres can be separated into two categories: SUV and Light Truck (LT). An SUV tyre is typically a light-duty product that’s designed for mild off-road terrain – grass, gravel and sand. Whereas, an LT tyre is robustly constructed to tackle harsher off-road conditions.
The LT’s heavy-duty carcass and increased rubber bulk, provides better resistance to punctures and sidewall damage. You’ll find these abbreviations on the tyre’s sidewall, usually written just before the tyre’s dimensions. For example: LT 265 / 70 / 16.
Another simple way to gauge tyre strength is to look at the load rating marked on the tyre’s sidewall. The load rating will tell you how much weight the tyre can handle. As far as all-terrain tyres are concerned, these figures can vary anywhere between 900 kg and 1700 kg per tyre.
Naturally, the heavier your vehicle, the greater the risk of punctures and tyre damage; so if you regularly travel to remote regions in a heavily-laded 4×4, you’ll want a tyre that boasts a high load rating.
Cooper Zeon LTZ (80/20 on-road bias)
An SUV tyre designed for high-performance Sport Utility Vehicles, and users that restrict their off-road exploits to grass, gravel and sand. Typically designed for Range Rover owners, and Land Rover Discovery 4 vehicles that tackle mild off-road terrain.
Cooper Discoverer AT3 (80/20 on-road bias)
The AT3 is available in both SUV and LT spec. However, as a Land Rover owner and frequent off-road traveller, you really shouldn’t consider anything other than an LT tyre. The AT3 LT is ideal for off-road holiday makers and weekend travellers. The tyre features low road noise, terrific wet tar performance, and a great balance of off-road traction and durability. The AT3 is also backed by Cooper’s 85 000km mileage warranty plan.
Cooper Discoverer S/T MAXX (60/40 off-road bias)
An unrivalled combination of durability, puncture resistance and off-road traction; the S/T MAXX is available in LT guise only, and is best known for its 3-ply sidewall rating, and frequent use in the off-road racing / rally scene. With two Dakar victories behind its name, and a uniquely high load rating, the S/T MAXX is the ideal overland / touring tyre designed for extreme conditions in very remote regions.
Cooper Discoverer STT PRO (80/20 off-road bias)
A dedicated 4×4 tyre that offers maximum off-road traction and durability. The STT PRO is a relatively new tyre on the market, which means it boasts the latest design trends and tyre technology. Currently used by Kingsley Holgate and the MegaWorld off-road racing team, the STT PRO is swiftly earning a reputation as a dependable, heavy-duty tyre that’s equipped for extreme off-road conditions.
For more information on Cooper Tyres and their class-leading warranty plan (TyreLife), visit their website www.coopertyres.co.za. You can find more tyre advice and information at www.4x4equipt.com/offroad-tyres/