Xterra vs sand

Bob Keyes

New member
My wee XJ is getting tired after 25 years and 250000 miles and will soon need a lot of attention/$$$$$ thrown at it, so I am thinking of going over to/leaving the dark side with an xterra. My offroad issue is sand, lots of it, Texas beach sand, I know from this forum that Cooper tires love sand, the get into it and do not want to leave it without being encouraged by a winch or strap, pizza cutter tires the same way. How do the Xterras do in sand and what is the widest tire I can run without going stupid with a lift.
Edit: Texas beach sand is like sugar but will not melt when it gets wet....it is also about miles deep, you will NOT hit any thing solid no matter how deep you dig!
Last edited:


Disabled Explorer
I think your XJ has much more potential that an Xterra, sorry if that offends anyone
I live in Pearland also. I drive a Nissan Armada. I have the new BFGoodrich KM2. They do good in sand on the beaches down 288 in Freeport and all the beaches down there.

Where do you go often?

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I do fine in the Arizona sandy substrate, but I'm not sure how that stacks up against what you see in Texas. I've also had it out on the Outer Banks beaches in NC and it did great when aired down. With a 2nd generation xterra (2005+) you can fit 285/75/16s with no lift.


Bound is truckless man.
My Xterra does great in the crappy *** sugar sand we have in the Jersey Pine Barrens....running on BFG A/T KO2's in a 285/75/16 with no lift, just a simple melt mod.


I've run all over North Padre for years I have had 2 first gen Xterras and many XJ's currently drive an XJ for off road and have another for expo / camping. I have had my vehicles mostly setup all alike. Luckily no issues with any on sand. My current XJ is running the new Cooper AT3's. Have not been to Padre with these tires but just spent a week at Big Bend and they were great on and off the road. Oh and I pull an off road trailer ;)


New member
I have been down island on PINS several times with my Xterra. Tires have varied from stock to BFG MTs. This spring I will give my new Duratracs a try. Never been stuck and recovered at least one other motorist.

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pew pew
I was in desert moon-dust this weekend; super fine powder and quite deep. I'm running the ST MAXX's on my Xterra (265/75-16) and with some coercing from the accelerator pedal, I was able to traverse the deep powder quite well in 4lo without airing down. The truck itself is quite capable and fairly easy to work on, so I wouldn't worry too much about its capabilities. Tires are the real question for terrain management.

Also, it'd be nice to know what generation Xterra you're looking into as that will mitigate specific tire sizes. For the first gens, 265/75-16 (32's) are the largest you can go before serious modifying is needed. Body lift and suspension lift are needed to run 33's+ comfortably. Not so sure with the more recent 2nd gens. Check thenewx.org for more information.


To say that an xj has more potential for traveling on sand makes no sense at all, both are 4x4 not AWD, comp weight and power, comp wheel base, that being said they do just fine in sand, either gens. Air down, use momentum, coast to a stop, all of the normal driving on sand stuff works. For tires wider and a more mild tread works better than a dedicated mud tire. As long as you are prepared to get stuck you will be fine, it's when you tell yourself that it will never happen to you is when you will be up to the frame rails, with the tide coming in.


Both gens do very well in sand, put some appropriate tires on them, air down, and you shouldn't have a problem at all. We have lots of members who use their Xs in desert conditions with lots of sand, and all of them seem to mention they have no issue with performance.


What others have said; drives just great in the sand. In case you hit an extra soft spot, maxtrax are little miracle workers.
So come on in the waters fine here in Xterra land!


Bound is truckless man.
Just FYI....if you're looking at a 2nd Gen Xterra it'll take a 285/75-16 with nothing more then pushing a little plastic on the wheelwell back after heating it with a heat gun.

SoCal Tom

Are you guys letting the air out of your tires? I've driven all over the ca sand dunes in 2wd with just lowered air pressure. With radials I run 12 to 15 in my JKU. The only tires I ever had problems with were mudders, which like to dig holes. They still did fine on flat ground. The other important thing is never turn the wheel when you are stopped. If you have to start from a stop, you should be driving straight ahead.
Sorry if I'm missing something.

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