What To Look For When Buying The Best Tires For Gravel Roads?
You want to look for a few things for the best tires on gravel roads. In my experience, I found the items I have listed below are the most important.
The tire’s tread pattern is essential for preventing rocks from being lodged in the tread. If you look at the tread, and it seems the amount of space between the tread blocks is a perfect size for rocks to get stuck in, you want to stay away.
You don’t want a tire that will get all sorts of little gravel rocks stuck in the tread for a few reasons.
When rocks accumulate in the tread, it prevents the tire from gripping the surface on paved roads. All the little stones sticking out could cause you to lose traction when accelerating or coming to a stop. The rocks will act almost like skates when they contact the road.
Another reason you don’t want rocks stuck in the tread pattern is that they will fly out with high velocity when traveling at high speeds. The stones that fly out could damage your vehicle or even crack someone’s windshield behind you.
Where I live, this happens all the time. You can tell when someone isn’t from the area if they don’t have a crack in their windshield.
Strong Rubber Compound
Driving over gravel can cause a lot of wear and tear on your tread in the form of rubber chunks being cut out. High-quality manufacturers will provide stronger, durable rubber compounds.
There is a safety concern when chunks are missing from the tire.
When a tread block is missing a portion, it will cause the tire to not perform as designed, whether in the form of wet weather traction or handling. Suppose you turn a corner on pavement and the tire doesn’t have proper contact with the road. In that case, it will slip and potentially lead you to lose control of the vehicle.
Deep tread is vital for getting longer tread life and ensuring that gravel can’t bottom out and potentially puncture your tire.
If you think rocks can’t cause punctures, you are mistaken. Over the years, I have had to replace many tires due to holes from gravel rocks. Aside from puncturing, if a rock bottoms out, it can cut open the rubber exposing the steel belts.
Steel belts will rust and corrode when exposed to the elements. Disintegrating steel belts over time will fail catastrophically. And if you didn’t know, tires always have impeccable timing, failing at the most inconvenient time for you.
How Much Do Tires For Gravel Roads Typically Cost?
Cost is always an important factor when making a purchase decision. I shopped around and compared prices from retailers like TireRack, Amazon, and Discount Tire.
Here is what I found.
Four New Tires
When replacing all four tires on your car, you can expect to pay between $400 and $1500. This is a wide price range due to there being multiple vehicle fitments.
Two New Tires
If you only need to replace two of your tires, you can expect to pay between $250 and $750.
It is always recommended to replace your tires in sets of four to get the most extended tread life and even wear.
If you only need to replace one of your tires for whatever reason, you will pay between $125 and $450.
At a minimum, you want to replace your tires in pairs to prevent one tire from wearing out unevenly and prematurely.
Are Gravel Road Tires Worth It?
Since there are no tires designed explicitly for gravel terrain, you will want to ensure you consider all your tire needs. The tires I picked offer great traction on gravel roads but also have other benefits.
To make your tire purchase worth it, you want to consider tread life, traction, handling, and ride quality.
If you buy a tire purely because it does well on gravel, you will be disappointed when it either wears out quick, handles like crap, has poor traction, or is louder than all get out.
How Long Should Gravel Road Tires Last?
There is a wide variety of tires that will perform on gravel roads. The average mileage I see on a tire is between forty-five and sixty thousand miles.
Remember that you will never receive that kind of mileage if you don’t maintain your tires properly. Routine tire rotations, air pressure checks, and wheel alignments will ensure your tires get even, long tread wear.
I have listed how frequently you want to perform these tire maintenance below.
- Tire Rotations – Five to Seven thousand miles
- Air Pressure Checks – Once a month
- Wheel Alignments – Once a year
Does the Year of Your Vehicle Matter When Buying New Gravel Road Tires?
Nope! You can put tires that perform well on any vehicle. I always recommend considering the age and how long you plan to keep a car before pulling the trigger on a set of new tires.
For example, I had a customer buy a brand new set of Michelins (one of the most expensive tire brands) on their 1995 Honda Civic. I triple-checked that he wanted to spend the money on a car that had over three hundred thousand miles. He was adamant about the Michelins.
Three months later, the motor blew, and he came in asking if he could return the tires. The answer was no, and he told me he should have thought about the age and condition of his car before spending eight hundred bucks on tires.
Anything Else Worth Knowing When Buying Gravel Road Tires?
If you follow everything in this buying guide, you will make the best decision possible for your vehicle. Just remember that there is no specific tire for gravel there are just certain aspects that make a tire perform better on gravel.
Those aspects were tread pattern, strong rubber compound, and a deep tread.
Now that you are just as educated as me on tires for gravel roads, get out there and buy some new tires.