Everything to Know About All Terrain Truck Tires

Everything to Know About All Terrain Truck Tires

For the 4x4 truck and SUV audience that seeks greater vehicle performance and versatility, all terrain tires are an increasingly popular option.

All terrain tires are a solution to a wide range of 4x4 performance needs – they boost the adventure capability of trucks & SUVs and facilitate off-road activities, but at the same time can be used daily without much downside. All terrain tires hit that “Goldilocks” zone of more tire performance in off-road situations without too much compromise everywhere else.

To help you decide if all terrain tires are the right fit, here’s a collection of common questions and answers, along with various all terrain tire insights:

What are all terrain tires?

All terrain tires are designed for daily use both on- and off-road and are best-suited (most commonly fitted) to 4x4 trucks and SUVs.

Importantly, the “all terrain” classification includes paved roads. All terrain isn’t just in reference to various off-road conditions like gravel, dirt, mud, sand, etc.

Where do they fall within the categories of truck & SUV tires?

All season truck tires prioritize street performance; off-road/mud-terrain truck tires strongly prioritize off-road performance; all terrain tires land in the middle, with an engineering prioritization of both environments.

All terrain tires attempt to strike the optimum balance between on-road performance and comfort, and off-road capability and durability.

Conquer your daily commute...or go beyond the beaten path. All terrain tires are ready to take you anywhere you want to go, from the freeway to mud, gravel, and snow.

What are the advantages of all terrain tires?

Compared to standard all season truck tires that are street-oriented, all terrain tires provide a measurable improvement in off-road traction. Especially when fitted to a 4x4, all terrain tires achieve superior traction in any off-road environment. They also deliver superior puncture resistance and greater durability.

How much more off-road traction can be expected?

In challenging off-road conditions where 4x4 (or all-wheel drive) traction systems are activated, all terrain tires will provide a clear and perceptible traction advantage over standard, street-oriented truck and SUV tires. While not a license to throw caution to the wind while exploring off-road, all terrain tires could make the difference between staying mobile in challenging terrain or camping out.

What kind of vehicles can have all terrain tires?

4x4 trucks and SUVs especially have the traction systems to exploit the performance advantages of all terrain tires.

Drivers of 4x4 and all-wheel drive CUVs that spend some time off-road might also consider all terrain tires.

What can I expect if I change from all-season to all terrain tires?

In challenging off-road conditions, you can see tangible improvement in traction characteristics. In familiar off-road circumstances, drivers might notice the vehicle’s traction system struggling less, and the vehicle generally managing the terrain more capably.

Depending upon the characteristics of your all season tires, you might perceive a slight loss of handling characteristics and feel with all terrain tires when driving on-road. Fuel economy might also be affected. For more information see All-Season vs. All terrain Tires

How long do all terrain tires last?

Strong UTQG/treadwear ratings and mileage warranties are offered throughout the all terrain tire category.

For example, Hankook’s latest all terrain tire, the Dynapro AT2 (RF11), features a 60,000-mile tread life warranty. This is as strong, or even stronger than the mileage warranty associated with many all-season tires.

What’s the difference between all terrain and off-road/mud terrain tires?

Their intended purpose and tire design orientation are different. Despite their common use on-road, most mud-terrain tires really are primarily intended for off-road environments. They are designed to be, first and foremost, optimized for off-road conditions.

All terrain tires are designed from the very start with an on- and off-road performance balance in mind. So while giving up some off-road mettle as compared to mud-terrains, all terrain tires will generally be far more at home accumulating miles on the street and highway.

For the majority of 4x4 truck and SUV drivers, modern all terrain tires offer more than enough off-road capability.

For a more comprehensive overview of the differences between the two tire categories, see All terrain Tires vs. Mud-Terrain Tires

Can I haul and tow with all terrain tires?

Definitely. Many of the same sturdy tire construction characteristics that provide all terrain tires with superior durability off-road also contribute to hauling, payload, and towing capacities.

Numerous all terrain tires can be found with upper load range (ply) ratings, including load range F (12 ply). Ply ratings are indicated in the specifications area for each tire size on TireBuyer.

Everything to Know About All Terrain Truck Tires

Check out What’s a tire ply rating? for additional information.

How do all terrain tires perform on the highway?

Highway manners have improved with each generation of all terrain tires. In fact, much of the progress made in the all-terrain category has been in the area of on-road comfort.

Nowadays, many all terrain tires are just as at home logging miles on the highway as they are tackling off-road terrain.

Can I use all terrain tires even if they weren’t stock on my truck or SUV?

Yes, an upgrade to all terrain tires (OE tire replacement) is very common. All terrain tires are commonly viewed as a solution to OE tire performance deficiencies.

If you’ve found your OE all-season truck or SUV tires lacking in performance, you’re not alone. All terrain tires can help to resolve the typical traction issues and limitations associated with Original Equipment (OE) all-season truck and SUV tires.

Will all terrain tires decrease my fuel economy?

This depends upon your reference point. While the efficiency of all terrain tires is another area of continuous improvement (along with comfort), as a general rule all terrain tires cannot match street-oriented truck and SUV tires when it comes to fuel efficiency.

Are all terrain tires loud or uncomfortable?

“Loud” and “uncomfortable” are subjective evaluations, but we will say that very few modern all terrain tires are perceived this way.

The TireBuyer customer community is an excellent resource for learning about the comfort characteristics of just about any all terrain tire. Visit the Reviews tab on TireBuyer.com product pages, and the Quietness and Ride Comfort ratings for any all terrain tire of interest:

Is every all terrain tire about the same?

No, and the reason has to do with varying interpretations of how an all terrain tire should perform.

The agreed-on principle is that every all terrain tire should be able to perform both on- and off-road. However, if you picture on-road vs. off-road performance as a sliding scale, with tire performance prioritization landing somewhere in the middle, then you’ll have an idea of the wide range of outcomes within the all terrain tire category.

As a real-world example, consider the Nitto Ridge Grappler, which is categorized as an all terrain tire, but pushes strongly toward the off-road end of the performance spectrum. Other all terrain tires more prioritize on-road performance attributes.

Do I need winter tires if I have all terrain tires?

Many current all terrain tires have met the “severe snow service” testing qualification as established by the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA). The achievement is signified by the three-peak mountain snowflake on the tire sidewall.

Importantly, note that this qualification is a validation of a tire’s longitudinal traction (acceleration and braking) in snow conditions, specifically. This qualification does not stand for optimum all-around winter performance in all conditions, e.g., slush, ice, wet roads, cold and dry winter roads, etc.

So while some all terrain tires might bear the same mountain snowflake credential as winter tires, for optimum performance through all of winter’s road conditions, winter tires hold a real performance advantage.

How do all terrain tires perform in deep snow?

All terrain tires tend to function quite well in deep snow conditions. There are parallels between many inches of snow and the off-road conditions that are a focus of all terrain tire design and development. The numerous tread blocks and biting edges work to claw for traction in loose, deep snow conditions just as they do in sand and mud.

Everything to Know About All Terrain Truck Tires

Reasonably strong traction in deep snow is a fair expectation, especially if an all terrain tire has qualified for the severe snow service criteria (as explained just above). All terrain tires are quite popular with snow plow services, and you know they can’t be routinely stuck.

Can all terrain tires be used year-round?

Like all-season tires, all terrain tires are designed with year-round use in mind; however, as with all season tires, the performance of all terrain tires will not be ideal in all temperatures and road conditions. Tires aimed at optimizing performance in specific temperatures and road conditions –  for example, winter tires in severe winter conditions, summer tires in hot on-road conditions – will hold an advantage.

That said, there’s probably no better tire solution to year-round, on- and off-road use for 4x4 trucks and SUVs.

Have more questions, or wondering which all terrain tires are a fit for your ride and circumstances? Shop all terrain tires now or give us a call at 866-961-8668.


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