TIP # 118 Perils and Positives of Mud Terrains, and a Hidden Danger...

Submitted: Wednesday, Aug 23, 2006 at 23:32
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In my Archives I have a large collection of safety issues that people in general need to be aware of. It has become apparent that I take for granted some of the experience that I have, and it might be a good idea to pass more of it on.. This is a typical situation, sent in to me, name concealed to protect privacy, but a lesson to be learned..

“We have had a Surburban for about 3 years (bought it in preparation for towing the BT) but it has not had much of a work out with my working overseas. Last Feb, while towing a reasonably loaded single axle (but unbraked) trailer, I approached a round-about on a slight downhill grade on a wet road. While traveling at less than 60 kph, under brakes the trailer pushed me significantly past the point of where I had expected to stop. The same happened later in the year but this time without any trailer in tow.
The tyres still have about 10% tread left. With the same loaded trailer but on a dry road, I was unable to duplicate the braking problem.

I am obviously hoping that a set of new, probably on-road pattern tread tyres will make a difference. However, if the Surburban ABS braking under load on a wet road is going to be questionable, then we will need to sell the Burb and get something else (if only that larger Toyota ended up coming to Oz!!).

Any information / opinion you can give will be greatly appreciated.

If it is determined that simply new rubber is going to make the difference, I am probably going to shod the rims with Coopers.

Thanks in anticipation of a response and for any help you can give.” End quote…..

Hello xxxxxxxxx,
I know these vehicles, and Tracy’s experience with the Suburban for about four years towing to the Shows in all weather conditions. In a nutshell, your problem is probably not Suburban in nature. Your problem is physical but not Suburban related, most likely is one of two things:

1) Without seeing the vehicle it is hard to pinpoint the problem, but it could be brake fade in the wet due to excessive wear on the Suburban brakes which are not all that brilliant anyway (same problem with Landcruiser, I am not picking on any vehicle), or the type of brake pads. This is common….. But the probability is fairly low compared to the next issue:

2) Three important things: Tyres, tyres, and tyres. I am running Mud Terrains, and they do not grip as well in the wet as do All Terrains. I however like the performance in the dirt and mud, so I just slow down a bit in wet conditions. I suspect the highest likelihood… If I had to bet, it is that your tyres are just old and the rubber has gone a bit hard. They harden up and after a few years this is a common issue.

I suspect you have a mechanical problem with one of these two conditions, and would say about a 30% probability of #1 and a 70% probability of #2… Maybe a little more than that hedged in favor of #2…. But I would BET that this has NOTHING to do with Suburban, and is either maintenance of brakes or tyres, and if you have well worn and old off-road tyres, they just do not grip as well on wet greasy roads. When it is dry my BFGoodrich Mud Terrains are great on the road. When it is wet and greasy, I even have to take off from the lights a bit easy or I just sit there spinning tyres. You have to adjust your driving habits accordingly if you want to run off-road traction tyres on wet bitumen and remember to leave a longer distance and such… However, I will always be willing to do that for the extreme performance on muddy tracks where All Terrains would just gum up and go hopeless…

My Son, driving my F-250, in panic mode taking off from the lights “Dad something is wrong!!! We are not going!!!!” Josh, let off the accelerator a little!!! Oh, COOOOL!! Anyways, that is the effect, and the same condition when braking, the aggressive pattern is slick in the wet so you have to modify your driving a little… OK?

You can also have the same effect and if you were pushing way too hard with silly driving, and break it loose on a curve. But you would have to be driving irresponsibly, stupidly, and I would just say slow down a bit when in the wet and do not push it. I myself like the Muddies, as that is what the 4x4 is Four by far, and am willing to change my driving a little with the weather…


Most of you fellow Boggers, just want a high grade touring van that can occasionally get off the road, and travel along well on corrugated dirt tracks that would destroy a normal van, and last and hold its value. But a smaller group of you Boggers talk about desires for expeditions to extreme locations that require advanced gear on the tow vehicles… And I think many of you will go on to do some advanced exploration with your 4x4’s. I am amazed at some 4 x 4’s that are bristling with toys and gizmos and electronics, back up cameras, and radios, and CD changers, and stereos, and Ipods, and all kind nice toys… But without what I would consider to be some of the basic gear that is necessary… With all due respect, it is for those that I am spending my time to write some of the extreme 4x4 tips for..

People have GPS, automated map directories, rear back up cameras, fancy driving lights, fancy boxes and trays, tonne of toys on board; and they are running on near street tread tyres !! Now for those of you that just wanted the best Touring van, and are not going to get too carried away in true off-road exploration down riverbeds and cattle tracks on remote Stations: You are in the Majority, and the mainstream of Bushtracker van Owners that just want the best Touring Van in Australia with occasional off-road work, and the top resale.. That is fine, nothing wrong with that; it is no less of an ambition.

EXCEPTION: If you have the interests of that smaller group of fossickers, intrepid adventurers, fishermen, explorers, and the like; you need to have a look at your tyres… It is not just the aggressiveness of the tread to get more initial bite that I am going to tell you about, but it relates to a hidden danger I will address in a minute. If you get a bit of spin up as you travel along, the more aggressive the tread, the more the spin throws out the heavy weighted clumps of mud between the lugs and allows the tire to keep on with the better traction… Centrifugal force is the engineering word, as the large clumps of mud have enough mass (weight) to be thrown clear on each rotation.. The smaller gaps of street tyres or even All Terrains just will not clear their own tread because the little clumps do not have enough mass to be flung clear at low speeds.. If you are going on an expedition way out back, I have two words- Mud Terrains.. The value of Mud Terrain tyres, is that the real 4x4 work comes into play when it has rained for six hours on back tracks, when the street tyres gum up to become greased drag slicks…! Ha! Yes, the Mud Terrain tyres howl a tiny bit on the highway, but after a while most would not hear it. I would not think of going up the Cape, or the Gulf through Hellsgate to Roper River or up the west side of the Cape, or along other NT or Qld rivers, or gem or fossicking fields, or many places Outback without a set of Mud Terrains on…

NOTE THAT I AM NOT TALKING ABOUT CUTTING UP ROADS, I AM TALKING ABOUT REAL OFF ROAD WORK, CATTLE TRACKS AND THE LIKE, Private Station work, exploring or fossicking, real off road… There are times when you are off the road a bit, and if it rains all night the ONLY way you are going to get out is with Mud Terrains.. I keep them on my old Sahara full time, and on my 100 Series full time, my F-250 full time, and even have a spare set for my Mack 4x4 horse truck in case I go on expedition. I have been caught near the beginning of the rainy season and had four rooster tails throwing mud all over, just to get out of a remote spot before I got rained in for who knows how long. If you get caught off the road 100’s of kms like I have, with unseasonable weather just before the big wet season, you either get out NOW, or YOU MIGHT NOT GET OUT AT ALL.. In the beginning of the wet season, you could be in for a very long stay waiting for it to dry out… Ha! I have had the weather set in, and debated half the night to realize that I if I did not get out at dawn, I might not get out at all for an extended period.. The Mud Terrains will allow that muddy but graceful exit.. And for those water crossings and occasional big BOGS, there is nothing better. A bit messy, but at least you do get out.

NOW THE DANGER IS BACK ON THE BITUMEN AROUND TOWN… In that on the road in the wet, zooming around on wet bitumen or unloaded, and the Muddies just do not grip quite as well so you need to slow down and take that into consideration… Braking as well is no doubt affected. On the note about rubber, these tyres do get harder for the first two or three years, the rubber compound actually does get harden a bit, this is not a myth. Tyres with a bit of age on them ARE far harder and do not grip as well, especially on wet bitumen. Also for some noise is a factor, mind you not for me, what little bit of hum there is I can live with.. The truth is I do not even think it is a factor and do not notice it at all.. Turn the stereo up a bit. I am eyeing the Cooper STT with new heavy sidewall layer and ribs down the sidewall like Baja Claw tyres. As soon as I can wear out my BFG Muddies they are in the cards….

Muddies ARE better off-road… Just be careful as they come with a hidden danger for the unwary on wet bitumen … OK? PS, another set of Cooper STT's just left.. Reeeeel noice!

Regards, Ranger,

Semper Fidelis

"The Last Stand In Open Country"

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Reply By: Bushtracker - Thursday, Aug 24, 2006 at 17:33

Thursday, Aug 24, 2006 at 17:33
Post Script:
Stewart, to use you as an example as you sent me email on the question of Cooper ST or STT... You know yourself, better than I know you. See what your aspirations really are in relation to the Off-road travel. Conservative or extreme, and you will know for sure.

Myself? STT without a doubt. I like to explore. A Tourist dirt track to established campground? Or 10 km further in, down a cattle track, to an old abandoned Drovers camp on the river..... I am out a little further, always. The spice of life is in the unknown. But, I travel with a Hi-Lift Jack, I travel with diff-locks, and most of all a winch, and snatch block. AND, I get into the perverbial poo now and then in rough going. However, for the magic I also find out on my own now and then, I will keep up the exploring.

As I get older, I will just get more equipment to help me out of the poo I sometimes get stuck into... (Excuse for more and better toys) .... Poor physical condition, or inexperienced, or conservative types that just want companionship in camping; should possibly not tread out in the danger zone. But for the intrepid explorer, whose fun is getting in and getting out the poo and possibly going where no one has gone before? STT is my choice. You asked for a ratio? Maybe 3 to 1 ST to STT, but the STT has not been out all that long at least that I have seen.

Just like walking the Bush in hostile herds of Cape Buffalo in Africa, I would rather have too much gun; than not enough just because it was cheaper or lighter to carry.. Ha! Regards, Lone Ranger
"The Last Stand In Open Country"

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Reply By: The Boondockers - Thursday, Aug 24, 2006 at 19:51

Thursday, Aug 24, 2006 at 19:51
Just fitted a set of Mickey Thompson FC-II's LT265/75R16 on my F250. They are rated at 123N and have an 80K warranty.
They suggest 60% Road, 40% dirt. The noise level is so far only marginally above the standard Goodyears - not enough to annoy. The handling and ride on black seems better. I will report back after a few dirt kms.

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Follow Up By: Bushtracker - Thursday, Aug 24, 2006 at 20:12

Thursday, Aug 24, 2006 at 20:12
Hello Rosco,

Good Choice, Mickey Thompsons are well respected and very good tyres. They rate very highly in the Off-Road Baja Mexican Desert race that punishes tyres. In the past, the Baja "Claw" was the toughest and best. The only thing that holds me back is the price, as they used to be very expensive and rather hard to get a hold of.. I don;t know how they hold up for mileage, but they are famous for taking extreme punishment. I was going for Cooper STT, because they are readily available, and have been sort of an 80,000 km tyre in that style.

So tell me, what is the price like now, in comparison to the Cooper STT? Is the MT substatially more still? Or have they come down?

Regards from the Ranger, for the benefit of all...
"The Last Stand In Open Country"

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Follow Up By: The Boondockers - Thursday, Aug 24, 2006 at 22:12

Thursday, Aug 24, 2006 at 22:12
I paid $275 each F+B.
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Follow Up By: Oldperc - Thursday, Aug 24, 2006 at 22:38

Thursday, Aug 24, 2006 at 22:38
For Mickey Thompsons try Caloundra Discount Tyres, Frank and Dale on 07 54915504.
I had my Cooper ATR's on steel wheels balanced and load forced checked balanced (simply puts the high point of tyre opposite high point of wheel, as I understand it) last tuesday and you can notice the difference.
Suggest anyone that can find one of these machines have the tyres/wheels done.
David and Ann
'I'am so proud of you poppa'

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Follow Up By: Bushtracker - Thursday, Aug 24, 2006 at 22:46

Thursday, Aug 24, 2006 at 22:46
Well the MT's are similar in price then. It is going to come to a personal choice as to them or the Coopers at that money. We have no real data yet on long term tyre wear on the gravel, and they are similar in style and strength; so bit of a toss up really.

Regards, Ranger
"The Last Stand In Open Country"

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Follow Up By: TroopyTracker - Friday, Aug 25, 2006 at 20:05

Friday, Aug 25, 2006 at 20:05
The Mickey T FC-II are very much more an on road tread than the Cooper STT's and next to some claws look like slicks. 80 000k's out of a set of STT's??? Not sure if many have taken the new ones that far yet but I can guarantee the old STT's were good for about half that. At least two friends have used them so this is not my personal experiance. Must have had a very soft compound or something as they certainly don't last long. One of these vehicles was lightly loaded and driven by a lady most of the time!!

Have heard some huge claims for the new BFG MT's-lasting longer than AT's due to harder compound!?!?!. Have to wait and see.

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Reply By: Black Cobra - Friday, Aug 25, 2006 at 10:46

Friday, Aug 25, 2006 at 10:46
Might think the way to go will be to get the STT’s on the B/T and then I will have the best of both worlds. If I am real keen I can change the tyres around and put the Coopers on the F250 when I need good traction off road and doing exploring and have the original F250 tyres for highway work or put them on the B/T, in short will have a set of Mud tyres and highway tyres just swap them around from F250 to B/T depending on where going and when the Goodyears wear out replace with Cooper STT.

Also the tyre guy said that the ATR is the only one that comes with a 90,000 km warranty and the STT’s don’t because they are designed for off road use and the warranty does not apply or is not as good. The STT’s are also the only one that comes with the heavier sidewalls and Amourtek, the ATR’s and ST’s do not.

It will be interesting to see how these tyres stack up against each other and now that the Mickey Thompson are reasonable priced I might have to do some research on them also.

Used to run the B F Goodrich 33 x 10.5 Muddies on my Troopie and they were a great tyre and did the CSR and Gibb River roads with no problems.


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Follow Up By: TroopyTracker - Friday, Aug 25, 2006 at 19:52

Friday, Aug 25, 2006 at 19:52
Exactly what we do. Currently on the Cape, swapped MT's on van onto car for instant traction gain. Swap back when we leave the dirt. No noise when travelling on black stuff and half decent performance in wet. Just alot of sweating changing tyres over.

Steve, STT's have been around for yonks, just new fancy design-still made by Cooper though so I wouldn't put them on a wheel barrow. If you wan the strongest side walls, a tyre that has earned a reputation (not bought it, cooper style) look at the Goodyear MTR's. Beat BFG and Cooper in side wall strength in a couple of tests I've read. All the comp guys use them and they only use what works. Some fitting these in terrain where other are useing Mickey T's, Super Swampers etc. Just not quite as aggressive as BFG or Cooper MT, in fact perfect half way point IMHO for someone who wants more than and AT but not Full on MT. Think I'll be using them next time and not bothering with swapping any more.
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Follow Up By: Bushtracker - Friday, Aug 25, 2006 at 21:20

Friday, Aug 25, 2006 at 21:20
Hello Matt,
I do not necessarily agree with the swapping issue either... But I do like the aggressive tread pattern for clearing itself throwing out the larger mass clumps of mud an biting again. I do not feel the minor noise increase is an issue in either my older Sahara, or my 100 Series, or my Ford. In your Troopy it might be a little louder, maybe less insulation, I do not know if it is more of a factor for you. As I remember on my own past Troopcarriers, it did seem like tyre noise was more apparent, but this may or may not be true... However, I am running BFG Mud Terrains on all three vehicles now, and I can tell you it is not anything more than very minor..

There are some other considerations in deciding whether or not to match expensive Mud Terrains on the Bushtracker... Relating to both Vehicle and Bushtracker van... It will be TIP # 120, and on the Owners Forum.

Regards, Ranger..
"The Last Stand In Open Country"

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Reply By: Black Cobra - Saturday, Aug 26, 2006 at 11:31

Saturday, Aug 26, 2006 at 11:31
Hi Matt,

All gets to confusing after a while but we all seek the best thats why we buy a B/T.

What M/T are you running at the moment and in regards to the Goodyear tyres what ply wall thickness do they have.

Spoke with the Cooper tyres main distribution office today and they were quite helpful and gave glowing reports on all three tyres. They distribute all three brands, BF Goodrich, Coopers and Mickey Thompson and said they were all up there in quality.

The Cooper ATR, ST and STT come with 90,000, 80,000 and nil warranty respectively as the STT is a mud terrain and thats what they are designed for harsh off road work so no warranty. But then again never tried to get a warranty for a tyre that might have done 50,000 km, I imagine what you would have to proove.

Interesting that he told me that BF Goodrich do have a 3 ply side wall where the Cooper STT only has a 2 ply side wall but the difference is in the layers where he quoted using some technical term where the BF has 1000 something in the plys of the sidewall and the STT has 1500 something in the plys so technically even though the STT only had two plys it had a total 3000 something same as the BF at 3 plys. Do you like my technical talk LOL!

Might end up sticking with the old faithful BF Goodrich as i had a great run out of them.

Soooooooooo Steve still hang off on those tyres for my B/T, still have plenty of time before you will need them so the research continues.

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Follow Up By: Bushtracker - Tuesday, Aug 29, 2006 at 02:50

Tuesday, Aug 29, 2006 at 02:50
Hello Stewart,
The word you are fishing for is Denier, BFG have three layers of 1000 Denier, Coopers and D-694 we use have two layers of 1500 Denier (heavier thicker layer same result).... From our Research there is not much difference in 3-1000 layer or 2-1500 layer.

Unless they do not pan out on the tests running now, Coopers will get my money for the STT, just because they are handy, I like them over the dead sort of tie of Mickey Thompsons. In truth as I see them all in here, it is a dead tie in my mind. Even the BFGs I am running, all three same category. Nothing wrong with my BFG Mud Terrains I am running now, and since I have another set of spares on a 4 wheeled work trailer to burn through as well, you will probably see me in the BFGs long enough to get some mileage reports on the Coopers. They are all good tyres, take your own best guess and BLAZE A NEW TRAIL ! Just make sure you stay in touch so I can help to direct the others that come along years from now... Ha!

Lone Ranger... Shoeing horses with the best...
"The Last Stand In Open Country"

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Follow Up By: TroopyTracker - Wednesday, Aug 30, 2006 at 17:38

Wednesday, Aug 30, 2006 at 17:38
Currently running BFG MT's. Just drove the OTL (hence couple of day delay) and they went fine. Honestly, the noise difference between these and my BFG AT's is little though wear rates might be very different. Having said that my current set of AT's is not going to last anywhere near as long as the last set (80 000k's with probably 10-15 to go). Also have heard some amazing figures for life out of the new BFG MT's (KM's) from farmers who drive plenty of dirt. I'm talking 100 000k's!!! Sounds unbelievable I know but comes from friend/owner of outback workshop who works on many farmers vehicles. He spoke to BFG and they confirmed that the new MT's have a harder compound and they should last very well??

I cannot be bothered with this changing tyres anymore, so I'll either stick with BFG MT's all round or give the Goodyear MTR's a go. I'm 99% that the MTR's are 3 ply side wall, but I am sure they are stronger than any of the other radials in the wall-from many peoples experience and at least two physical tests-one 4WD monthly and one online mag/forum.

I think you neeed to be honest about how much off road work you'll be doing and go from there. I think the MTR would be a good half way point BUT wear rates seem fairly poor. I haven't done huge amount of research on that point yet but will do when I'm next shopping for tyres. A search on Explore Oz would be my first port of call. Also if you've had a good run with BFG, why change? They peeved me off with a warrenty claim and now my second set of AT's are wearing like crazy so I'm keen to try the MTR's. I have heard of massive variations on wear rates from others with the BFG At's and suspect something must be different amoung different sizes, tyre plants or maybe the day of the week they were built??

Good luck,
PS, sitting on the beach at seisa typing this and can tell you BFG MT's are by far the most common tyres up here.
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Reply By: Black Cobra - Thursday, Aug 31, 2006 at 03:29

Thursday, Aug 31, 2006 at 03:29
Thanks Matt,

The way its going I think I will probably stick with the old faithfulls BFG either in All Terrain or Mud, they are a bloody good tyre.

Went to ARB today and spoke with the guys and many of them have Coopers, BFG etc and most swear by the BFG. One guy had Cooper ST on for about a year and said no way will he go for Coopers again as they are wearing like hell and chipping. He will go for BFG's next.

Like I said previously in this post I can imagine what you would have to prove to get a tyre replaced under warranty and at ARB one guy tried with the Coopers and was not successful because of all the particulars they wanted to know.

Sounds like you had the same problem with BFG's so like I thought if you look after the tyres and rotate regular, correct tyre pressures you should not have a problem. If they get staked etc no warranty will cover them so the warranty really is only a selling point to try and get people to buy not worth a pinch of goat s!@?.

If the new BFG's are even better then like the old saying "If your on a good thing stick to it"

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