Project F-250: Time for Tires for Our Truck

Update by Tom Suddard to the Ford F-250 project car
Mar 23, 2020

Remember those big, honkin’ mud tires that were on our F-250 when we bought it? We got rid of them quickly, recouping some money towards our budget and instead swapping on the stock wheels and tires that came with the truck.

And those tires–an old set of Cooper all-terrains–were fine for a while, but eventually we’d had enough: They were badly sawtoothed, meaning they howled at any speed greater than 25 mph, and they were also old, as evidenced by the nasty dry rot that was present on both sidewalls. Between the noise and the increased potential for a blowout, we knew we needed to make a change. 


Tire Selection

Of course, that brought with it a question: What sort of tires should we buy? We knew we didn’t want to change the diameter, since our gearing and speedometer were perfect. We also knew we didn’t want another set of Super Swampers, since those were the most miserable thing we’d ever driven on. Choosing the same tires we were currently driving on scared us, too, since they were wearing so poorly. 

First, though, we picked a size. We didn’t want to spend the money for new wheels, since our truck’s OEM 16s looked fine and weren’t bent. That left us two commonly-available choices in the correct 31.7-inch diameter: 265/75R16 (our truck’s OEM size), or 235/85R16, an optional narrower size common on duallies that happened to be the one already mounted on our wheels. Since this isn’t a mud truck or an autocross car, we didn’t see any value in going to wider tires. If anything, they’d hurt two prime considerations: fuel economy and resistance to hydroplaning, both things that we care about on this truck.


Cover All Our Terrains

Size in hand, we needed to pick a tire category. That left a whole world of available truck tires, with everything from street tires aimed at highway towing to commercial mud tires aimed at fleets of power company trucks driving down powerline roads every day. Despite this truck being mostly highway driven, we do take it off-road from time to time. Not by choice, necessarily, but as part of supporting our numerous hobbies and never saying “no” to a good deal in a remote area. For example, here’s a photo from our last trip home from buying a new project car with our previous tow vehicle, the Super Van:

Add in a few doses of sandy mountain biking trailheads, unpaved boat ramps and a sugar-sand parking area under our carport, and we didn’t want highway all-season tires on our truck. All-terrain tires would be our choice, so the next step was to narrow the field. 

Unsurprisingly, pretty much every single tire company makes a 120-load-range all-terrain tire in this size. We’ve tried a few of these brands in the past, but this time was different: We were looking for an aggressive tread to get us through the occasional rough spot with the highway manners to keep us comfortable during 95% of our driving. 

So, we chose the all-new Toyo Open Country A/T III. Why? Simple: Toyo says it has all the off-road chops of the competition with great street manners, too. And they back it up with a warranty, too: 50,000 miles for LT models and 65,000 for non-LT. We ordered a set of five to make sure our spare tire would be usable. The price? Toyo says that our application carries a minimum advertised price of $165.87 each–so right in the ballpark. 


Installation Time

We had a local tire shop mount and balance the tires, making sure to gasp at the age of our spare in the process. It seemed to be original to the truck, meaning we would have been relying on a 20-year-old mismatched tire to save us in the event of a flat. That might be fine while driving around town, but left us queasy considering we’d already completed more than 8000 miles of towing with our new truck. We got lucky, but looking back that was a stupid risk to take. 

After the tires were mounted, we made one more stop at our friendly local alignment shop, cleverly named Alignment Shop Inc. There had to be a reason our last set of tires was sawtoothed, we figured, so we had the truck aligned before we destroyed our new Toyos. The answer was obvious: Turns out our truck was toe’d out nearly 3/8 of an inch in the front, which would easily explain the unusual wear. That $50 alignment had just saved us from quickly destroying a new set of tires. 


How Do They Drive?

After more than a thousand miles of towing, we reached a verdict: We’ll start with the bad news: No, these aren’t as quiet as a pure street tire would be, but they’re remarkably quiet considering the aggressive tread pattern. The truck handles well, tows well, shrugs off wet roads like they’re bone dry, and generally drives great. Look, we know this is far from our usual fully instrumented tire test, but to the extent we can tell a difference on our truck, we’re thrilled with our tire decision. Time will tell how they wear, but after 1000 miles we aren’t seeing any disturbing patterns starting, which gives us hope for their longevity.

And they seem to back up their all-terrain name: Though we’re not taking this truck mudding or rock crawling, we also don’t need four-wheel-drive to move it in and out of our sandy parking spot. What about when we forget about that sand and park Miatas in that spot? Our truck doesn’t break a sweat, dragging them out in two-wheel-drive with ease. (Remind us to call the paving company at some point.)

With its old tires replaced, our truck was once again ready for whatever we throw at it. Of course, we’ve got more parts stacking up on the shelf–which we’ll discuss in our next installment.

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View comments on the GRM forums
Curtis73 GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/23/20 1:49 p.m.

I think you chose well.  I narrowed it down to the Toyo Open Country A/T and the Continental TerrainContact.  I went with the Continental mostly because I wanted something that did well on the highway and wouldn't be helpless off road or in snow.  The Continental is definitely on the "soccer mom" side of things.  Still adequate for the A/T part, but one step closer to H/T.  The Continentals are SOOO quiet.  Heck, I've had H/Ts that were louder than these Contis

I'm sure you'll love those Toyos.  They are a great tire.  I convinced Dad to put some on his 3/4 chevy and he probably has 30k on them now.  Good choice.

mr2s2000elise Dork
3/23/20 2:02 p.m.

I think you chose well. 

I have 286/75/16 Ko2 on my FJ . I love them, after 28k miles. However, IF they ever wear out, I am going to try the Open Country or the WildPeaks next. 

Campbelljj New Reader
3/23/20 6:12 p.m.

You chose well. After 5 sets of "other" brands I purchased TOYO open CountryHT for my Ford Expedition. Many of the other sets either wore out in as little as 7,000 miles or wore so unevenly that I had warranty claims on at least 3 sets.  The TOYO's after 55,000 miles were still in great condition when the truck was hit in the side with my wife and daughter in front. Both were unharmed but the truck frame was bent and totaled.  I have the AT's on my company Tahoe and they are equally impressive.  Great choice.  

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