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SUV needed?

I live in the mountains of Colorado and commute 40 minutes each way. About 5 miles of the commute is on dirt roads that washboard quite frequently. These roads aren’t the most pleasant in my 2008 Hyundai Elantra - with low profile tires, but I like the 34.5 MPG for the rest of my drive. Also not the best car for the amount of snow we get up here, although I know I can get better snow tires.

My questions - are low profile street tires likely to bust on these roads at low speeds (have busted a tire once in the last year, but not sure why)? SHould I trade in for SUV with lower MPG but better dirt road and snow travel? Thanks for your input!

What tire size do you have, exactly? You could go to and see if there are alternatives (same overall diameter, smaller wheels) that you could buy. Lot cheaper to get a replacement set of wheels+tires instead of a new car.

That was what my husband suggested. I asked the local tire shop and the dealer and was told that I could not go with smaller wheels and larger tires due to the disc break system. 16 in. wheels with P205/55R16 tires.

tirerack shows the SE came with those tires, while the GLS could come with either those tires or 195/65/15 tires, which (witha new set of wheels) would give you a slightly smoother ride and be a bit more resistant to damage. Do you have the SE? I don’t know if it came with different brakes than the GLS, it’s possible but unlikely.

I have the SE model - I will ask about that.

“have busted a tire once in the last year, but not sure why)”

How often do you check tire pressure?

Needs to be done more often with low profile tires.

I check regularly. The busted tire split vertically between the tread (about a 2" split), but there was nothing obvious in the road or in the tire.

If you are looking for an excuse to trade, consider a compact SUV. Their higher profile tires are a natural for rough roads. Expect 10 mpg less though and sticker shock.

55 series tires aren’t THAT low a profile. 35s and smaller are low profiles.

It shouldn’t be too hard to find a smaller suv that can get 30mpg.

Comparing the 195/65/15 tires with the 205/55/16 is a little deceptive as there is just .6 inches of sidewalk depth difference. This means that the optional tire that you have might not be much more prone to damage compared to the original and changing back to the higher profile of OEM will probably not increase ride comfort noticeably but may decrease handling noticeably.

Both tires are cookie cutters compared to tires made for rough road use but not exceptionally so for a compact. Carry light loads, keep the pressure up and drive slowly are your best defenses if you keep what you have. Just changing profiles w/o regard to your tread width may do little and just comparing 55 to 35 or 65 ratio tires tells us little w/o that added info. Changing vehicles will help, but at a cost that may not be worth it. I live on a dirt road and find my cars handle the moderately worse terrain as well as trucks…if you drive more slowly ! I’m still with bscar and would recommend a compact suv if you feel you need it for other reasons too.

Wash board roads are often caused by poor driving technique in solid axle vehicles. You may be able to straddle the roughest part that these trucks travel, or get one yourself…and join the crowd.

I would think you would want to lower the tire pressure slightly for rough travel, the rubber will seem softer and have more give when it encounters sharp ledges (I.e. potholes, washboard)

That might be ok if the tires were a little over inflated to begin with, but given the fear of damage by op and the increase in chance that it will occur, I would recommend the opposite. Load carrying increases with air pressure(within tire manufacturer’s recommended range).