Tires are one of the most important components on any vehicle, but especially a pickup truck. If you're going to be driving off-road and on the sand, you need the right tires.
For most vehicle owners, buying new tires is not something you look forward to. But we are “truck people” and we don’t think that way! We think that tire replacement time is an opportunity to customize our trucks and add to performance, value and looks (truck people spend a lot of time staring at pickup trucks). Having the right tires on your pickup can improve performance and be one of the best safety strategies you can use. Having the wrong tires on a pickup can totally change how it performs (especially on a Florida beach) and cause major issues. It’s important to understand what tires your truck currently has and what you want to replace them with. You need to educate yourself as the selection can be overwhelming and confusing.
What Tires Work Best in The Sand?
Our Toyota Tacoma came with standard Toyo A31 Open Country OEM tires. They are highway terrain tires and primarily designed for paved roads. They performed adequately, but the tread has worn pretty fast. Also, we get concerned when we drive on the local beaches, like Daytona Beach Shores, with deep sand. We have driven through some pretty deep and soft sand, but we have never gotten stuck. This is due to the truck's overall 4X4 performance capabilities and, of course, our great driving skills!
Before shopping for any tire upgrade, we decided to make a list of what was needed and what we wanted:
Initially we looked at all-season (HT -highway terrain) truck tires as we drive the majority of miles on-road and don't require higher truck performance. HT tires are designed primarily for paved roads, and don't offer great traction for off-road use. They have shallow tread depths and very little or no shoulder and sidewall blocking. In general, they usually have a lower purchase price, get better gas mileage and last longer than any other truck tire type (but we can dispute that one!). We decided against these. We need off-road performance for the beach and a change from the same boring look.
What Tires Are Good for Beach Driving?
We decided to focus on AT (all terrain) tires to meet our beach driving requirements. AT tires are designed to handle as many conditions as possible. They have deeper tread depths and significant shoulder and sidewall blocking. The tread has larger spaces or voids than an HT to allow mud, sand, and gravel to clear out of the tire. AT tires can cost a little more, be a little louder and get a little worse gas mileage. However, they provide better all-around performance for beach driving and have a more aggressive, customized look.
Remember to educate yourself! Customer reviews really help. There is a ton of information out there on tires. We primarily used online tire sites like tirerack.com, simpletire.com, tirebuyer.com and assorted pickup truck forums to get performance and test ratings. This really helped us narrow down the possibilities.
AT Tires For Sand
Our list has been narrowed down to 3 potential tires to replace the current OEM tires. We think any of these 3 choices will meet our driving demands, especially driving to or on the beach. They are all reasonably priced, highly rated for performance and will add to the ongoing customization efforts that make our truck stand out (have to keep the staring and gawking going)! We have provided links below each tire to provide more information.
Falken Tire Site: Wildpeak A/T3W information.
Nitto Tire Site: Ridge Grappler information.
Toyo Tire Site: Open Country AT III information.
Along with this purchase, we are looking at getting new rims. This is a complicated decision with so many options. Do we stay with black or add in a little red or silver? It's not that easy because they have to fit without interfering with the wheel well. Of course, options and customizing are what make life fun for pickup truck owners. Click here to find out which ones we finally end up with and will see you on the beach!
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Susan and Bruno are travel bloggers. We write about Florida beaches on every coast. Our opinions only.