Point Of Contact

Most people don’t think about it too often but your vehicle only touches the ground at 4 small points of contact, (the contact patch). Regardless of the road surface or terrain, your tires have to provide the traction to accelerate, brake and change direction. That is a lot to ask, especially when you start loading your vehicle with everything, and a kitchen sink. One of the most important features that some people overlook is load rating. Load rating should be one the primary factors in deciding which tire to run on your vehicle. Water tanks, extra fuel, provisions and all the flotsam required to venture into the boonies will add significant weight to your vehicle. If your tires, and your wheels, are not up to the task, you will have problems down the road, (pardon the pun).


The Autonomous4X4 runs a Falken, Wildpeak AT tire that measures 37×12.5-17. That’s 37 inches in diameter, 12.5 inches wide and made to fit a 17” diameter wheel. A 37” outside diameter is quite large but so is the truck. The large diameter increases our ground clearance and with the additional width also enlarges the contact patch. The large contact patch gives a sure-footed feel to the truck. When you are in challenging terrain, it’s nice to have the assurance of solid predictable handling. The Wildpeak’s all-terrain tread pattern is a great compromise between good street manners/mileage and traction offroad. Falken also has a Wildpeak MT, (mud terrain tire), if you want a more aggressive tread pattern.  All this would be for naught if the Wildpeaks were not able to carry the weight of the truck. The Falken Wildpeaks in the 37×12.5-17 size have a maximum weight rating of 3,525 pounds each. That means the pair of tires on each of our axles can support 7,050 pounds, all four max out at 14,100 pounds. That is safely within the maximum weight we will see on the Autonomous4X4.



Just as important as a good tire, your wheels need to support those tires. After a lot of research, I chose the Trailready Beadlock wheel with a “World Series” reinforced ring. The Trailready Beadlock wheel is a heavy duty wheel that is cast right here in the USA. It is a true beadlock wheel; designed to accept the World Series clamping ring. It has a 3,400 pound weight rating and the wide “World Series” ring adds additional strength. The beadlock design allows you to take the locking ring off to service a tire in the field if needed. There is a saying that goes, two is one and one is none. Redundancy is a necessary policy when you travel far off the beaten path. Carrying multiple spares is smart; having an additional back-up plan is even smarter. Having the ability to repair a tire, stuff it full of grass or whatever it takes to get back to the pavement is a huge benefit. Trailready beadlock wheels give me that option and all the strength I need.


One thing to keep in mind with a beadlock wheel is balance. If you take the wheel apart and then re-assemble it, the balance can be affected. Thankfully there is a great solution for this too. Instead of using traditional wheel weights that glue on or are pounded onto the wheel lips, (I despise both!) I found Centramatic Dynamic Wheel Balancers. The Centramatics take care of any imbalance issue by balancing the wheel dynamically. They mount between the wheel and hub. You just throw them on and forget about any balancing!


Now that you have great tires that are designed to carry the weight of your rig, you need to take care of them. Get yourself an accurate tire pressure gauge and make a habit of checking your tire pressure and/or inspecting them before heading down the road. Underinflated tires wear quicker, can blowout due to overheating and waste precious fuel. Checking the pressure will alert you to a possible slow leak or damage that might be overlooked. If you want the ultimate in tire insurance, get a tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) like I did. The Autonomous4X4 uses a TPMS from Pressure Pro. The Pressure Pro system monitors air pressure wirelessly. The monitor mounts in the cab and the wireless senders screw onto the valve stem in place of the cap. They have systems to monitor your truck, truck and trailer or commercial rigs all the way up to 34 tires! Technology is awesome!