Tires Don't Let Go...of Mud - 2012 Ford Explorer Long-Term Road Test
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2012 Ford Explorer Long Term Road Test

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2012 Ford Explorer EcoBoost: Tires Don't Let Go...of Mud

November 29, 2011

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 "I don't care if it's FWD, c'mon, kick up some mud!" Niebuhr's egging me on to have some fun in a big muddy patch and it's all I can do to be a grown up and say "OKAY!"

But about ten seconds later he comes over the radio again. "Dude. Man up."

But I can't. "The second I hit the dirt this thing turns into an ice skate. I've got no steering, no braking, I can hit the gas, but it doesn't kick anything up or grip at all."

Stepping out of the car and into the barely inch-deep mud, I see why...

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These tires -- 245/60R18 Michelin Latitude Tour HP -- refuse to evacuate any mud from the treads. It clogs all of the sipes and pores and stays put. If you think four-wheel drifts at 9 mph in a 4,458 pound SUV, then you probably think this is a lot of fun. I was on very twisty roads with a steep drop and no guard rail which sort of reduced the fun factor a bit. When the car follows the slope of the road instead of the path of the road, you know you're in trouble.

It stayed fairly uncontrollable for a good five miles until I finally sucked it up, took life by the horns and accelerated to about 50 to try and throw some of the mud that had turned my all seasons into slicks. The guy behind me wasn't thrilled and radioed over that, for him and his mud-covered windshield, this was as close to a real-life crapstorm as he could imagine.

I've driven through mud like this before, but I can't remember the last time a tire gummed up this much. It was the closest I've felt like driving on ice since I left the East Coast.

Can anyone else with these, or similar, tires report similar incidents?

Mike Magrath, Features Editor @ 6,000 miles

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