What Tires Should I Use on my Ford Explorer?

Contributed by jeff

This is a somewhat subjective topic, but for most of us run-of-the-mill Explorer owners it comes down to two choices:

You should also consider the Michelin LTX AT if you want a more aggressive tread pattern.

And the most popular size is 235/75R15.

I chose the Michelin MS version for my '92 XLT (bought from the local warehouse store) and I have been extremely happy with them. The ride and handling are much better that with the stock Firestones.

A More Off-Road Perspective

About tires selections... (this is subjective) by Jim Humphreys

I ordered my '91 Explorer XLT with the standard XLT tire/rim package. At about 55K miles, I replaced the 225/70R15 Firestone tires (stock equipment) with 235/75R15 BF Goodrich All-Terrain Radial TA's. I now have 140K miles on the vehicle and the same tires.

I was concerned about the life expectancy of these tires due to the aggressive tread pattern. But the deciding factors were the three steel side wall belts and the traction capabilities. I do a lot of driving in snow (ski trips to Vermont) and a lot of off-road driving (predominantly wooded trails and hilly terrain when fishing & camping). I broke the side wall belts on two of the original tires and the BF Goodrich tires were the only tire with a third steel side wall belt.

The tires are just about due for replacement. I may go to a 30x9.50 LT tire of this make/model in order to gain some ground clearance under the sole plate/rear shock mount point, which can get hung up on uneven terrain.

And from Jim Cates

The BFG Sport Truck TA is a Fabulous Tire. I installed a set of 245/65's on the stock wheels (1992 4-dr) and it literally transformed the vehicle. This was the last suspension mod (Helwig sway bars and Bilstein shocks) and has really made the explorer fun to drive (for a SUV). My other vehicle is a '97 BMW M3, so I have a pretty high standard of reference.

These tires are obviously designed for more street usage but are rated all-season and are true truck tires and I can't recommend them enough. They aren't cheap but the Tire Rack sells them for about US$109 each, and I feel they're worth every penny.


Contributed by Matt Hall

When selecting tires for your Explorer, the first question should be "What kind of driving do I do regularly?" Tires are put basically into 5 categories:

1) Sport Tires--- 100% on-road. Good handling and acceleration

2) Street Radials--- 95% on road. Good handling, but enough tread to get through the snow and dirt trails

3)All-Season Radials-- found on stock Explorers (Firestone Radial ATX, Wilderness AT). 75% on road. Good all around tires

4)All-Terrain Tires- 50% on road. Aggressive tread pattern, noisy, but perform good on and offroad. Use only if you plan to really 4 wheel your Explorer

5)Mud Terrain Tires-- 20%(at best) on road. Built for offroad. Very noisy, handling is poor. Terrible in wet weather, but kick butt in the mud

Don't buy tires for the looks, buy them for your needs. If you buy TSL Super Swampers, but never go off-road, you'll hate them. They will give you bad gas mileage, bad acceleration, and terrible noise.

I always recommend BFGoodrich Tires for anything. They make a tire in all categories, except street radial. (BFG Sport Truck, Trail TA, All-Terrain, Mud Terrain.) Michelin, Mickey Thompson, Goodyear, Cooper, Dunlop, and Big O also make great tires. I would stay away from Firestones, or "grocery store" brand. Most good tires will cost you between $70 and $110. Always buy the extended warranty. NOTE: BFG does not come with a warranty, so buy that extended warranty from the tire shop.

Sizes: Most Explorers come stock with P225/75 R15, although some come with P235. I would not go any bigger than a 30x9.50 on a stock Explorer. I've heard of people fitting 31's, but I'm sure they rub. NOTE: If you want huge tires, lift your Explorer. I would also recommend sticking with a "P" tire (passenger) unless you tow, or go offroading. BFG's are all (except maybe the Trails and Sport Truck) "LT"s.

My Tires: I have 31x10.5 BFG All-Terrain, but I also have a 3 inch lift. I'm very happy with these tires, but they are used offroad very often.




Updated December 11, 1998

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