If you've ever watched the World Rally Championship online, then you may have been emboldened by the sense of adventure and have been encouraged to try some off-road driving yourself. Of course, you'll keep to the speed limit and restrain most of your competitive tendencies, but you will still need to make sure that your vehicle is equipped for long periods of time "on the loose." In particular, you need to make sure that your tyres are properly equipped for the situation, so what do you need to think about before you head to the tyre shop?
The further that you venture into the wilderness, the more uncertainties you're likely to encounter. While many of the roads that you will explore may still be maintained, you still need to ensure that your tyres can stand up to more punishment than normal.
You will find that tyres built for off-road driving are far more pliable and have more flexibility in their side walls. Consequently, they can move around a little more under pressure as they search for traction and will be able to flex more if they encounter a rocky surface. Since they are more flexible, they are less likely to sustain damage in these more extreme driving conditions.
While many all-wheel-drive vehicles are supposed to be fit for off-road driving right away, you should still pay close attention to their configuration. Most people who buy this type of vehicle stick to urban roads and very rarely, if ever, drive on an unpaved surface. Consequently, the vehicles are built with that type of client in mind, so you may have to upgrade your tyres if you want to have more fun on the weekend.
If you do get tyres that are more appropriate for loose surfaces, you may have to make some adjustments to the ride height of your vehicle as well. Sometimes, special off-road tyres are taller than normal and you may have to adjust your driving style accordingly. When you get back onto the highway, bear in mind that the vehicle may behave a little differently and may not be quite as stable when going around corners at high speeds.
Off-road tyres come in all shapes and sizes and you can choose your covers based on the amount of time that you're likely to spend in the wilderness. Talk with the professional at your tyre shop to make sure that you make the right choice.