How Often Should You Replace a 4WD Tyre?

How Often Should You Replace a 4WD Tyre?4WD tyres are one of the biggest investments made on a 4×4 vehicle, as they are the only part that make constant contact with the road. They are accountable for braking, stability, fuel economy, handling, performance attributes and safety of the vehicle, and so it should be maintained in the best possible condition. There are a number of ways to tell when your 4WD tyres need replacement, and you should often check for signs of wear on a regular basis. But, do you know how often should you replace a 4WD tyre?

The car’s total weight is not evenly distributed on all four tyres on your car. Therefore, the tyres in your car need regular rotation to maintain a regular tread wear, so that you get the most out of your car tyres. For regular rotation, check your manufacturer’s rotation recommendation. Some tyre manufacturers will not specify rotation recommendation for your 4WD tyres, in such cases, 4WD tyres should be rotated every 4000 km’s. However, there is no set time period for replacing your old 4WD tyres, but replace them by determining the following aspects of your tyre:

a. Checking the tread depth. Tyres are considered un-roadworthy at a 1.6mm tread depth.

b. Irregular wear of the tyres will trigger early replacement

c. Tyres having shallow grooves and channels

Replacing one tyre is almost never an option in a 4WD vehicle. If you are driving a part-time 4WD vehicle, then it is recommended you change your tyres in pairs. However, with full time 4WD vehicle, replacing less than 4 tyres is very dangerous to your vehicle’s drive train. This is one reason why, 4WD vehicle manufacturers state that all 4 tyres need to be replaced at the same time.

When to replace your 4WD tyres?

Tyres do not wear out evenly, however they receive an incredible amount of wear. Check for these signs to find out when your tyres need replacement.

a. Tyres are manufactured with wear markers. They are small blocks of rubber in the tread which are indicated by arrows on the upper sidewall of the tyre to help you find them easily. Never wait to replace your tyres until the markers are even with the tread. When the tyre markers are even with the tread, it indicates 1.6mm of tread remaining, which means your tyres are road-unworthy. Replace them when at least 2mm tread is remaining, which can be measured using a tread depth metre.

b. Signs of uneven wears should also be checked. Uneven wear might result from certain driving styles, vehicle problems like poor wearing suspension or wheel alignments, or as a result of towing.

c. It is good to replace your 4WD tyres that are older than 5 years, even if they have sufficient tread. The chemical transformation that occurs in the rubber of the tyres can deteriorate performance and compromise driving safety.

At any sign of potential issues in your car tyres, or if it is time to change a new one, be sure to take your vehicle to the nearest retailer for immediate service.

Factors to consider when replacing tires in a 4WD vehicle:

When you bought your 4WD vehicle, you bought one that is engineered with some of the latest technological and safety features in it. These features will keep your vehicle under control even if your tyres lose traction. In order to keep these new features work properly, the tyres that you replace for your 4WD vehicles should be of the same tread depth, tread pattern, and from the same tyre manufacturer. Indifferent tread depths and tread patterns, and tyres from different manufacturers can cause unwarranted wear and excessive heat on the drive-line components until they fall.

So, when you replace new 4WD tyres for your vehicle, ensure that they are of the same model, size, and tread design. If you are replacing less than 4 tyres, it is important to measure the remaining tyre life to see if the tread depths are sufficient for the 4WD system to function properly. Some 4WD vehicles allow for the replacement of 2 tyres if certain criteria are met. So, before replacing 4WD tyres on your vehicle, make sure you read owner’s manual to see the recommendation given by the vehicle manufacturer relating to tyre replacement.

Choosing the right 4WD tyres for your vehicle:

Choosing the right 4WD tyres for your car is very important as these tyres are capable of handling a variety of conditions than normal passenger tyres. The three different types of 4WD tyres include the Highway Terrian (H/T), All Terrian (A/T), and the Mud Terrain (M/T). These three types of tyres are capable of functioning well on most off road conditions.

The Highway Terrain tyres are the ones that often come as a standard on your 4WD and are similar to regular passenger tyres. It is a high performance tyre that combines all season traction and ride comfort. However, it lacks the qualities of a good off-road tyre due to its tyre thickness and tread depth.

The All-Terrain tyres cater to the needs of the majority of 4WD vehicle owners. It can be considered as the best compromise between off road and on-road performance. It gains traction off-road in ease with its decent ability to clear mud from the tread, thus making it a better choice compared to Highway terrain tyres. A/T tyres also have the strength to resist punctures from rocks and sticks.

The Mud terrain tyres give better traction for vehicles that often go off road. The deeper tread with bigger voids, along with the strength to resists puncture gives Mud terrain tyres the ability to drive on the most serious off-road terrain with ease.


The ability of 4WD vehicles to divide the engine’s horsepower between its 4 tyres is useful especially while driving on wet, slippery surfaces like dirt, sand, and mud. So, in order to transfer this extra power, the 4WD vehicles driveline mechanically connects the tyres to work in unison. To get the most out of your 4WD tyres, it is important to maintain even tread wear which can be obtained by rotating the tyres every 4000 kms. Owner’s manual also gives indications about manufacturer’s rotation as well as tyre replacement specifications for your 4WD tyres. Although, there is no set time period to change your car tyres, it is recommended to change them depending on the tread wear, otherwise which can be dangerous to your vehicle’s drive train.

Jeff Williams is a mechanic from Sydney, Australia.

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