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TYRE DEALERS, BAD ADVICE & THE TRUTH ABOUT LT vs P-METRIC TYRES

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It’s normal to believe that tyre dealers are your best source of tyre-buying advice, but in many cases they’re the ones offering poor recommendations, and (on occasion) display unethical practices. Owners of SUVs, pick-ups and 4x4 vehicles are very often the victims: typically sold a P-Metric tyre not designed for off-road use, when they should have been specced with a Light Truck (LT) alternative.

 

Even though most tyre-manufacturers produce a range of Light Truck tyres, they generally do so only in select sizes, which means that most all-terrain tyres on the market are actually P-Metric units and not designed for heavy-duty off-road applications. However, let’s first look at some of the key differences between P-Metric and LT tyres, as well as at who should fit what.

 

If the tyre size doesn't have the letters 'LT' in front of it, it's most likley a P-Metric product.

 

WHO SHOULD FIT A LIGHT TRUCK (LT) ALL-TERRAIN?

  • Those who frequently drive off-road on gravel surfaces, rocks, sand, and in remote areas.
  • Those who drive a vehicle which is heavily laden with off-road accessories, or a workhorse vehicle involved in the construction, mining and farming industries.
  • Those who regularly go camping on holiday with lots of gear, or with a caravan, trailer, or boat in tow.

 

WHO SHOULD FIT A P-METRIC ALL-TERRAIN?

  • Someone looking for extra traction on a graded dirt road, grassy field or partially covered sand track.
  • Someone whose vehicle is used predominantly on-road, with the occasional trip on mild off-road terrain.

 

VEHICLE TYPE

Perhaps the best way to highlight the differences between LT and P-Metric tyres is to look at which vehicles are fitted with a LT product straight from the factory. These are:

  1. Toyota Land Cruiser 70 Series
  2. Jeep Wrangler Rubicon
  3. Geländewagen Professional
  4. Land Rover Defender (original model)

 

 

From the list above, one can clearly see which vehicle type (and which application) LT tyres are designed for. It is surprising that, beyond this list, very few 4x4 SUVs and double-cabs are OE fitted with LT tyres; and that in most cases, these vehicles are factory-fitted with lightweight P-Metric all-terrains that are designed for fuel economy and comfort rather than longevity, puncture resistance, and load capacity.

 

IMPORTANT: To use a P-Metric tyre in an application that would be better suited to an LT product will unquestionably lead to premature tread wear, sidewall separation, punctures, sidewall cracks, and very possibly total tyre-failure. Doing so is the vehicle-equivalent of driving a softroader up Baboons Pass.

 

WHAT MAKES LT TYRES DIFFERENT TO P-METRICS?

  1. LT tyres have deeper treads, which means a longer service life, more mileage, and usually better traction on loose terrain.
  2. LT tyres have stronger carcasses, resulting in less sidewall flex, better handling, fewer punctures, and more resistance to off-road deflation.
  3. LT tyres have a higher load index, which means that they can carry more weight and therefore stand less chance of overheating, or rupturing in a pothole. 
  4. LT tyres are made of superior compounds, which are critical for off-road use because of their resilience to cut-and-chip damage to the tread pattern. In other words: More miles, more value, and more traction for the life of the tyre.

 

If you're a double-cab owner who regularly drives off-road, and/or packs heavy payloads, it’s strongly advised that your vehicle's P-metric tyres be replaced with LT equivalents. 

 

WHAT ARE TYRE DEALERS (NOT) TELLING YOU?

So, why are so many tyre dealers selling P-Metric tyres (to 4x4 owners) when they should clearly be recommending a LT alternative? In some cases, the answer is simply ‘price’, because P-Metric tyres are approximately 40% to 50% cheaper than LT alternatives.

 

On a more sinister note, a few unscrupulous and/or untrained dealers have been known to sell P-Metric all-terrains at the same price as the LT product, thereby banking the extra profit while incurring no risk to themselves – if the tyre fails, they simply shift the blame and refer the consumer back to the manufacturer.

 

However, in most cases, tyre dealers simply don’t know the difference between a P-Metric and Light Truck all-terrain! Much like any retail industry, the tyre market has an alarming staff-turnover rate, which means that very few resources go into staff training and education. The result, unfortunately, is an industry dominated by wet-eared salesmen with almost no tyre knowledge.

 

That said, all our Dynamix Dealers have undergone training on the subject of off-road tyres, on their application, and on how to match those features with each consumer’s needs.

 

So, if you’re unsure of your own tyre needs, write to us at marketing@tyrelife.co.za

 


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