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June 2008 Homepage (UK/Europe)

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The Series Land Rover and Cross-Ply Tyres

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The Series I Land Rover was born at the same time as the radial tyre (patented by Michelin in 1946), but the Rover company used cross-ply tyres because their stronger sidewalls were better suited to the farmer's field environment and were more easily repaired in remote overseas locations when punctured.

Land Rovers less than 20 years old should certainly be fitted with radial tyres. Cross-ply tyres have less resistance to wear than radial tyres; they are less resistant to heat and contribute to increased fuel consumption.

A Series Land Rover riding on cross-ply tyres has less steering control when cornering; reduced flexibilityin the tyre wall causes less tread to be in road contact compared with radials. But your typical Series Land Rover is not known for its fast cornering capabilities, so no real loss there!
A Series Land Rover riding on cross-ply tyres has less steering control when cornering; reduced flexibilityin the tyre wall causes less tread to be in road contact compared with radials. But your typical Series Land Rover is not known for its fast cornering capabilities, so no real loss there!

Any Series Land Rover riding on cross-plys is likely to develop 'flatspots' when left parked for more than a few days. They can give a noticeable change in ride characteristics when the vehicle is subsequently driven away. The reason 'flatspots' develop is because the walls of the tyres flex as the wheels rotate, this generates heat within the casing of the tyre as the wheel rotates. When the Land Rover is parked, the weight of the Land Rover presses down in one spot and as the tyre's cool down, this can cause the tyre to 'set' into a temporary flat spot. When the vehicle is next driven, the tyre heats up again, the flatspot disappears and the process is repeated. Raising the tyre pressures by 2 or 3 psi can reduce the flexing but gives a harder ride. If your Series Land Rover is to be stored for a few months then it is advisable to release some weight on the tyres by use of jacks or axles stands.

Cross-ply tyres are less in demand these days, consequently, some manufacturers are reducing the range of sizes available. You may, for example, see a tyre marked 600/650-16 which means that the tyre will substitute for both a 600-16 and a 650-16 and is a compromise between the two. Ideally, your Series Land Rover should have a full set of cross-ply tyres, but by law, you can fit cross-plys on the front and radials on the back. You cannot do the opposite and have cross-plys only on the front. Neither can you mix tyre types on the same axle. Having illegal tyres can cost you up to a £2500 fine and 3 penalty points PER TYRE. But more important than that is that it's dangerous.

The width of a cross-ply tyre and its height above the rim are approximately equal. This gives the tyre its unique tall appearance.
When driven above 50mph cross-ply tyres can cause a vehicle to become less stable; the inflexibility of the tyres cause them to follow the natural contures of the road. There is a greater risk of them exploding due to severe overheating on a long fast drive.

Cross ply tyre structure

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