Before I begin on my own rant, I will share my favorite rant
from art/film for you to enjoy.
Let me set the stage in this way. Before beginning the off-road driving season this year, I’m getting the rig ready
. That process involves checking EVERYTHING and replacing any part that is in the least bit worn or suspicious. (LSP, I swapped out all of the radiator hoses and the serpentine drive belt last year) This year, I changed the gear oil in the front and rear differentials and the transmission. There was a rear differential breather valve that had been torn off with rough running that needed to be replaced and the E-Locker (locks the rear differential electronically) wires were torn out – likely the same rough running that finished the breather valve.
This year, the tires are all being replaced. They have good tread on them for the most part and even though they are “E” rated with three ply sidewalls, they can also develop ‘dry rot’ for want of a better term (as any tire can). Thus I could wait for them to fail somewhere in a forsaken stretch of BLM land between hell and breakfast, or I could replace them now. Thus the subject of the rant.
This is a normal passenger car tire and wheel rim. (right) I am using it for comparison. You’ll notice that the bead (where the tire connects with the wheel, there is nothing to hold that bead in place. It’s fine for a highway tire because it drives on hardball roads. (yes, I know that the hubcap obscures the actual bead but trust me, it’s a standard road wheel and tire)
If you plan on taking the road less traveled, you will be abusing the tires and wheels and may be running on reduced tire inflation (referred to as “airing down”). If you air-down a conventional tire on a conventional wheel too far, the tire comes off the wheel and that’s that. You need to fully re-mount it because it will deflate (there are tricks to inflate the tire and do a ‘trail re-mount’, but I won’t go into those here)
The solution to the problem is to use ‘bead-lock’ wheels with a special ring that is bolted into place to hold the tire where it belongs even if the tire is barely inflated. The photo (right) is of a stock bead-lock wheel made by Ford for the Raptor. In this case, it’s on my 2014 Ford Raptor. Note that it’s standard factory equipment.
That won’t mean much to you but hang with me as the rant continues. Keep in mind that it’s FACTORY OEM EQUIPMENT.
There are many types of bead-lock wheels and retrofits made by many manufacturers for many off-road uses. My 2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser is heavily modified with (very heavy off-road/off-trail/get out of the mess that you got yourself into by being stupid) applications. Among those modifications areWalker Evans bead-lock wheels with Nitto TG 305/70/R17E tires. The tires are substantially wider than stock, and are substantially tougher than stock. The wheels are cast aluminum and are exceptionally tough. When the vehicle goes into the crusher (after I’m dead), the wheels will still be fine.
Note the fact that there are 24 individual bolts that hold the tire firmly to the wheel.
I realize that I live in Southern California and the natural assumption that it is populated by a bunch of “progressive” freaks who belong to the Sierra Club and hate 4×4’s, but within 5 miles is just about every possible OEM and after market manufacturer for 4×4 parts. There are a lot of serious off road enthusiasts in my area.
I have contacted EVERY tire store in my area to get the 5 replacement tires (4 + spare) that I want to buy – and we’re talking about $1,500 in tires, mounting and balancing. In every case, they told me that they won’t work on bead-lock wheels. I used to have the work done at Big O Tires and paid them $25 per tire extra to remove, reinstall and torque wrench the locking rings. They told me, as have all the other tire shops that lawyers have cautioned them against that.
I found a shop in Oceanside, fifty miles from home, that will do it. I’m not lame, I can do it myself, but I’d rather hire the work done because I’m lazy. But their lawyers said “no”.
WHERE ARE THOSE LAWYERS? – DELIVER THEM TO ME! HANGING IS TOO GOOD FOR THEM! I’m thinking a large ant hill deep in the heart of the Mojave with about a gallon of honey. The only question is whether the ants, the buzzards or the coyotes will get there first. I’m confident that they were Obama voters, that they never knew who their fathers were, hate mom and apple pie as well.