At what point do you look at your 4WD tyres and say yeah they’ve had a good life, its time to move them on? Is it when the first tyre hits the tread wear indicator at any point, or is it when they’ve got half of their tread left, or a different tread level?
Every scenario has its own merit, and providing you are driving a vehicle that is roadworthy, and you aren’t ticking along on bald tyres its really up to you.
I know a couple of people who replace their tyres every time they get around 50% worn, to ensure they have maximum traction and puncture resistance. It’s also not a bad time to move them on as you can still sell them for a decent amount of money, and put that towards buying a new set.
Tyre age is important too
Even if your tyres have a heap of tread, its important to take a minute to look at their age and decide if they are actually too old, or still good. Tyres (or rubber in general) deteriorates over time, and running a set of 4WD tyres that have plenty of tread but are 12 years old is probably pushing the friendship!
We got new tyres before our lap
Our Bridgestone Dueler 697’s were on their last legs in terms of wear, but I pushed them through another 3 week trip in the Pilbara and Gascoyne Junction. We got a tread puncture heading into the Kennedy Ranges (which might have been avoided if they had more tread), and with a lap of Australia coming up I replaced them all with new Toyo Open Country Rugged Terrain Tyres, which have been exceptional so far.
I’ll probably run these until they get low, or when we need the extra traction. I wouldn’t head somewhere muddy, or scrabbly with tyres that are sub par; when you are towing something heavy its just too much risk for everything from braking to traction when trying to climb something.
I noticed a big difference going from the Bridgestone Dueler AT 697 tyres to the Toyo RT’s, and this was partly because of the extra tread, but also because the RT’s are much more aggressive, which has proven itself to be quite valuable on many occasions already.
Monitor the tyre wear
If you don’t take a second to check your tyres every few thousand kilometres, you’re probably throwing money away. I always look to see if the tyres are wearing evenly, and to catch any bad inner tyre wear (like we’ve had before), or to adjust pressures if the centres are chewing out, but the outsides are good.
We rotate our tyres every 10,000km these days too, just to spread the wear. I find that the rear tyres on our Dmax wear much faster than the fronts, because they are doing majority of the work, and rotating front to rear keeps this in check, plus any scalloping that starts.