EXPERT’S CHOICE: Travis Duggan (4x4 Driving Instructor and Off-Road Tour Guide)
My father taught me many life lessons growing up, but the one that I will never forget is: “Tyres are your vehicle’s most important safety component, so don’t buy cheap!”. Since then, I’ve witnessed the wisdom of that statement many times over. Having worked as a 4x4 Driving Instructor and tour guide for the last 20-years, I’ve seen my fair share of poor-conditioned roads and what they do to equally poor tyres.
In the early years of my career I tried almost every “off-road” tyre brand on the market in either all-terrain or mud-terrain form, and during that time I was averaging about 3 to 5 punctures a year.
Towards the end of 2011, I was busy with an Eskom 4x4 Driver Training Contract with their Senior Management, and of course, we started chatting about tyres. The Fleet Manager at the time said that there was only one tyre brand that they would use on their 4x4 fleet, and that was Cooper. He went on to explain that Cooper tyres were extremely tough and durable, and they were the only tyre (they had found) that could face the harsh daily driving conditions that their Eskom staff put them through.
I started to do my research, and the more I read about Coopers, the more excited I got about putting them to the test! I was about to take delivery of a new Hilux 4x4, so the timing was perfect. I ordered a set of Cooper S/T MAXXs from a dealer in Hillcrest, and as soon as I took delivery of the vehicle I had the tyres fitted.
As a driving instructor, I often talk to my clients about the importance of ‘Constant Control’, and after fitting the S/T MAXXs, this concept took on a whole new meaning for me. I clearly remember an immediate increase in traction, far more than what I was accustomed to on various terrain. I put the S/T MAXXs through rigorous testing at both the Killarney 4x4 Track, and at the Toyota Test Track in Eston (KZN), and they never skipped a beat.
Since then, I have driven on Cooper tyres for more than 8 years and have never had a puncture. From 3 to 5 punctures a year, to zero in 8 years! There’s an obvious cost benefit to that sort of durability, but even more so, a sense of confidence that comes with not having to worry about my tyres.
I run the S/T MAXX 265/60/R18s on my Prado (daily driver), but my training vehicle (Land Cruiser 79) runs on the STT PROs 265/75/R16. Naturally, there’s no right or wrong in terms of your preferred tread pattern; both the S/T MAXX and the STT PRO have impressed me with their drivability on a variety of terrain, and, as mentioned before, their sense of constant control. However, when it comes to tyre recommendations, it’s hard to ignore the S/T MAXX’s versatility, and the fact that many users are getting a service life that’s well over 100 000km on a single set of tyres!
Last but not least, one cannot ignore the deterioration of South Africa’s roads, as well as the dangers associated with punctures and sitting stranded on the side of the highway. For me, it’s not worth the risk. When I recommend the S/T MAXX to my clients, I know I can do so with a clear conscience.
Yes, you will pay a premium for that peace of mind, but when you factor in the tyre’s durability, longevity, and mileage guarantee (TyreLife), it seems like a no brainer to me. I’ve worked out that my Coopers cost me R0.05 per kilometer travelled. As my father would say: “They’re the most important R0.05 money can buy”. Sacrificing reliability and safety for anything cheaper than that wouldn’t be worth the money, or the risk.
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