How good (or bad) are the factory Rubicon tires?
If you took the time to read the daily postings from my Continental Divide Trip, you will know that I had a flat tire along the way. Overall, this was not a big deal but I did previously chew up the sidewall of (what is now) the spare. It held fine the rest of the trip, but it was always in the back of my mind that I have a flat for a spare and am relying on a damaged tire.
Sadly, that left only one option…
The answer, truthfully, was that is was time to get some new tires for the Jeep. While I prepare for that to happen, I want to give an honest review of the BFGoodrich Mud-terrain T/A KMs that came standard on the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon.
I have just over 33,600 miles on these tires and I have always been happy with their performance. My only complaint is that I never really needed a mud tire so over the life of the tires, I fully recognized the many downsides of having a mud tire:
(1) They are very noisy going down the road. Coming up to a stop you can feel every knob of the tire making contact with the ground as you rumble to a stop.
(2) They offer reduced traction on regular pavement. I may or may not have been in a fender bender because I could not stop. As I tried to stop, I could feel the lack of traction as the ABS worked hard to try to help. It didn’t.
(3) Tire wear is an issue. Look, I don’t claim to have been the nicest to these tires because I did a lot of off-road learning on these tires, but I do more daily driving and overlanding than mudding and the pavement miles took their toll on the tread. I also did not rotate them as I should have and I will make sure I do that on all of my next sets of tires. Note to self/Pro Tip: apparently, this overlanding thing demands a lot on tires and they must be properly cared for.
You can see above that these tires began to fall apart on me and that led to the flat I had. There was a cut in one of the tread blocks and when I looked for the leak, I found the cut packed full of gravel which was letting air leak from the tire. I don’t have experience with any other off-road tire so I’m not sure if this can happen on other tires but this is what I found on my set. As I began looking over all the tires, I found cracking in the rubber and cuts all over the place that included large chips out of the tread blocks. I don’t know if this was from the road surfaces I was driving on or what, but it was interesting to me that they were in the state they were.
The next issue I have has to do with looks more than functionality, although that comes into play as well. This issue is with the size of the tire. 31” tires worked well for me, but I think they look odd on the 4-door Wranglers and for off-roading, they need to be a little bigger. 33” tires would be a perfect balance between functionality and drivability, at least on the Rubicon.
That being said, I’m making the leap to 35” tires. Check back for an update on that project!
Have any of you had experience with the stock tires? What did you think of them?