Nitto 420S: Dominating the Street or 'Strip

While it has become commonplace to add easy horsepower and copious amounts of torque to today’s diesel pickups, tripling the factory power rating can lead to rampant traction issues with the wrong tread on board. All-terrains and mud-terrains, while popular choices for trucks, don’t perform the greatest in situations where traction on pavement is paramount. In fact, with an aggressive tread in the mix, it can be a downright chore to keep a high-powered diesel truck glued to the road.

For the better part of a decade, owners of street-bound diesels have called upon Nitto’s NT420S to give their daily drivers and play toys the traction they need. Not only has the all-season tread been the key ingredient in getting countless 8,000-pound trucks off the line and through the traps as quickly as possible, it’s also provided superb ride comfort, wear characteristics and wet weather performance — all at an affordable price.

Read on to find out exactly why the 420S has become the go-to street and track tire for the diesel crowd.

All-Season Tires on Diesel Trucks?

All-terrains, mud-terrains or any other tread designed to excel off-road typically aren't always conducive to accelerating an 8,000-pound vehicle with upwards of 800 hp and 1,500 lb-ft of torque on tap. While traction in rear-wheel drive is virtually unheard of at these power levels, even four-wheel-drive traction can be compromised by an all-terrain or mud-terrain style tread pattern (usually in the form of spinning and/or hopping). This is precisely why the Nitto NT420S is so popular among enthusiasts that still want to drive their high-powered trucks on the street.

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Trusted for Traction, On-Point Pricing

The Nitto NT420S has a reputation for helping highly modified diesel trucks find traction on and off the track. But why? For starters, its large outer tread blocks increase the amount of surface area in contact with the road. More contact area equals more grip. And as for its price point, that’s attractive, too. The 420S can be had in 305/50R20 (one of the most common sizes found on diesels) for roughly $150 to $170 a tire. Compare that to an all-terrain or a mud tire, and you could be paying as much as $350 apiece!

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Stable Handling, Even Wear

Not that 4-ton diesel pickups are meant for cornering or high-speed maneuvers, but added stability in those types of situations is always welcome. With its incorporation of slanted, three-dimensional tread blocks, tire flex is vastly reduced on the 420S. And as for longevity, its utilization of an asymmetrical, non-directional tread pattern means cross-rotation is possible to ensure even wear.

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Wet-Weather Performer

When it comes to wet weather, the 420S performs at the top of the all-season market. Nitto’s unique use of siping across the tread pattern provides additional biting edges, which helps preserve traction in rain and also effectively aids the tire’s grip in snow. In addition, the center tread pattern was designed to effectively disperse water away from the tire.

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No Need for Slicks

One major advantage of running the 420S is that there is no need to swap to a set of slicks in order to get the elapsed time you’re after at the drag strip. The 420S truly is an all-around performer. Thanks to its do-anything nature, the owner of this ’08 F-250 is able to simply show up at the track wearing the same rolling stock it sported all week, air down a bit and enter the staging lanes.

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Snappy 60-Foots

With nothing more than a free-flowing aftermarket exhaust, a 300+ hp tuning file uploaded to the PCM, a 100 hp shot of nitrous and (of course) a set of 420S tires, the 6.4L Power Stroke pictured above cut a 1.69-second 60-foot en route to a 7.55-second pass at 91 mph in the eighth-mile (right side of time slip). This translates into an 11.85 in the quarter-mile at roughly 113 mph.

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WHAT ENTHUSIASTS THINK

Mike Satkowski: 600 HP, 12-Second ’97 F-250

As an avid drag racer, Mike Satkowski has put the 420S through its paces, and it has delivered where other tires let him down.

“I have not had any issues getting them to hook at the track,” he told us. “I just air them down to 30 psi, and they grip. And honestly [I bought them because] they’re affordable and provide a very quiet ride on the street.”

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Dave Burton: 600+ HP, 12-Second LBZ Duramax

Another regular at the drag strip is Dave Burton and his ’07 Chevy Silverado 2500 HD. Affordability, availability, ride quality and traction all attracted him to the 420S tread, and he’s never looked back since switching from an all-terrain tire.

“I chose them because they were easy to acquire,” Dave told us. “They ride great, are quiet, handle well and coming from an all-terrain they were a huge difference for me. I ran them at the track several times and was able to cut a 1.64-second 60-foot. I was really happy with that.”

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Justin Gerebizza: 1,000 HP 6.0L Power Stroke

Even with four-digit horsepower potential on tap, Justin Gerebizza never thought twice about driving his heavily-modified 6.0L Power Stroke to work every day. But to make sure traction was never an issue (and because he ran them with great success on his previous, 650 hp 6.0L), he chose 420Ss to get him from Point A to Point B.

“They are great tires," he told us. “They’re soft, hook great, are very quiet and they also perform good in the rain.”

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David Petrick: 10-Second ’07 Dodge Ram 2500

A 10-second daily driver is nothing to scoff at — and traction can definitely be a fine art with 1,000-rwhp on tap. To get his compound-turbo’d 5.9L Cummins to grip and go at the track, David Petrick looked no further than the 420S tread pattern.

“One of the biggest reasons I chose the 420S was because it’s a soft compound tire that I hoped would hook decent at the drag strip — and you can’t beat the price!” With his ¾-ton Ram currently capable of running 10.70’s in the quarter-mile, David’s goal is to eventually squeeze a 10.2 or 10.3-second pass out of the Nittos.

“If the track prep is decent, the 420Ss will hook very good for a street-driven tire. I’ve cut a best 60-foot of 1.62 seconds on them so far,” David said. “But even on a non-prepped track they still average a mid-to-low 1.7-second 60-foot.”

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Chris Hoover: 800+ HP 7.3L Power Stroke

One more vote for the 420S’s versatility comes from Chris Hoover, a devoted Ford fan with an 800 hp, compound-turbo’d Super Duty.

“They do great as an all-around street tire and they hold the road really well under higher horsepower,” Chris told us. “What I’ve also noticed is that the more they wear, the better they hook up.” Beyond that, Chris is convinced the 420S provides the best bang for the buck in the diesel segment.

“As far as I’m concerned, the 420S is the best tire for the price — especially for what I’m doing with it [drag racing and street driving].”

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Brett Jones: 1,200+ HP ’07 Dodge Ram 2500

Even in the 1,000-to-1,200-rwhp range — where traction normally found during boosted, four-wheel-drive launches on street tires starts to become dicey — the 420S still holds its ground. Brett Jones can certainly attest to this, as his 5.9L Cummins-powered ‘07 Dodge Mega Cab packs a large set of compound turbos, 200-percent over injectors, dual (modified) CP3’s and more than 1,200-rwhp.

“They’re good for traction [even with big horsepower], ride nice and are very quiet,” he told us.

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