The Dangers of Using Mismatched Tires on your OTR Equipment

We all know that it is vital to ensure that the vehicles we drive are roadworthy and safe. And when it comes to vehicle safety, tires are paramount.

So why would anyone even consider using mismatched tires on their off the road (OTR) equipment?

dangers-of-mismatched-tiresThere are many reasons, most of which are related to what are perceived to be money-saving strategies. So if one tire gets a puncture that is too bad to fix, or if the tread on one wears down more quickly than the others, why should you replace all the tires? Well maybe you don’t need to replace them all, but you do need to be aware of the dangers of using mismatched tires, particularly if you are buying tires for OTR equipment.

OTR Tires

Tires are tires, or are they? The answer is that while they have similarities, not all tires are the same whether manufactured for use on or off the road.

So what is an OTR tire?

Essentially OTR tires are engineered for purpose, to ensure that they will last as long as possible. They are intended for use with specific types of off-the-road vehicles, and are designed to take a huge amount of weight that will enable these vehicles to roll through less-than-normal conditions. While they aren’t all the same, there are recognized construction methods that are used for OTR tires. For instance:

  • Some OTR vehicles have bias tires that have flexible cross-ply construction tires.
  • Others have belted bias tires that offer improved tire performance.
  • And in contrast with the other two types, radial tires combine design features of the previous two types, offering a number of benefits, but a rougher ride at lower speeds.

Why You Should Avoid Using Mismatched OTR Tires

The issue of using mismatched tires has nothing to do with aesthetics. Instead it has to do with potential damage to equipment and safety. At very least mismatched tires are likely to cause unnecessary wear and tear, and at most, they could be lethal and cause a deadly accident. Additionally, the irony is that by trying to save money by not matching tires, you are likely to end up having to replace more tires in a shorter period of time – which of course will cost a lot more in the long run.

Mismatching tires doesn’t just mean mixing tires from different manufacturers. If you mix new with worn tires, or tires with different thread designs or different thread depths, these could end up working against each other. Mixing tires of different construction (bias with radial tires for example) is also potentially damaging.

Apart from deliberately mismatching tires, it is also important to be aware that normal day-to-day tire wear will result in changes to the outside diameter (OD) of the tires. Even if they were exactly the same when fitted, over time, the tires can become mismatched, which will in itself result in accelerated tire wear and damage.

Ultimately, when a tire is removed for repair reasons, ensure that it is replaced with a tire of the same design, from the same manufacturer. Also check that the tread depth of the old tires is similar to the tread of the new tire.