Date Posted:18 August 2023
If you’re a four-wheel driver, chances are you go on at least a few off-road adventures. Few other makes of car can handle rugged conditions, and whatever tyres are in use can be a big part of that. When you venture off the roads and push on beyond the beaten track, which tyres do you use? And, more to the point, what is the difference between all-terrain and mud terrain tyres? To find out the answer, let’s put the microscope on these two tyre types and discuss their pros and cons.
If all-terrain tyres are the standard choice for most off-roading adventures, then mud terrain tyres are the next step up. More heavy-duty than their all-terraining cousins, mud terrain tyres provide maximum traction thanks to their large tread blocks and wider, deeper voids. In a nutshell, these bad boys are designed with treacherous conditions in mind. They offer maximum grip when braving mud, rock and all kinds of debris, as well as protection against cutting and chipping.
All-terrain tyres, on the other hand, are more hybrid. They may sport smaller tread blocks and narrower voids, but the devil’s in the grooves and claw-like detailing: such tread designs provide the traction most off-roaders require to push through most conditions. So, what’s hybrid about this design? The fact that it tracks well both on- and off-road. This brings us to the next part of our discussion.
The short answer to this question is no. In fact, most off-roaders tend to opt for all-terrain tyres over mud terrains. Ultimately, whichever tyres you purchase will depend on your own preferences, how often you off-road, what sort of conditions you usually face and how you weigh up all pros and cons. To get an idea of where you stand, it may pay to ask yourself the following questions.
Regardless of how often you’re off-roading, it’s important to remember the condition your car will be encountering half, if not most, of the time: sealed tarmac. Are mud terrain tyres OK on the road? Yes, but the caveat is that they’re not built for smooth conditions—and this is especially evident when they come into contact with wet roads. Can mud terrains take on slippery surfaces? Yes—provided they’re off-road. Wet pavement is a mud terrain tyre’s kryptonite.
Returning to the question of how often you off-road, here’s a rule of thumb: if you spend 70 per cent of your time on sealed tarmac roads, you should select all-terrain tyres for their versatility. If, however, your time is split 50/50 between roads and terrain—or if you spend more time off the road than you do on it—then mud terrain tyres may just be the way to go.
What’s the downside of having larger, chunkier tyres? They’re going to weigh substantially more than standard—and all-terrain—tyres. Of course, the more you weigh down a vehicle, the harder its engine will have to work to lug the car along. In the case of mud-terrain tyres, the general rule is that one extra kilo per wheel revolution is on par with carrying four extra kilos inside the car. So, if you were to add 25–30 kg of tyre weight to your car, that would be the equivalent of loading up your car with four to five bags of cement. Ergo, with mud-terrain tyres, you will be burning through a lot more fuel than you otherwise would be.
Sure—if your daily commute consists of muddy conditions and rougher terrain. Otherwise, if sealed tarmac makes up your daily drive, using mud terrain tyres will come at the cost of fuel efficiency, among other things. The question you need to ask yourself is if you’re off-roading enough to justify this cost.
A four-wheel drive running on mud terrain tyres is like a thunder-and-lightning combination: you’ll usually hear it coming before you see it. Mud terrain tyres give off this thunderous whirring sound that all-terrain tyres do not, which is—of course—due to the latter being built for built-up areas as well as off-road conditions. If you opt for mud terrain tyres, excess noise will be part of the package, and this will only worsen with wear. So, do mud terrain tyres wear faster than all-terrain equivalents? The answer is yes, and that’s attributable to their soft rubber compounds that are built for grip. You will need to replace mud terrain tyres more often than any other type, which is another expense you will need to weigh up when making your final selection.
Returning to the topic of excess noise, not everyone considers this to be a dealbreaker. In fact, a common compensatory strategy is to crank the stereo up loud! If you drive an older vehicle, you may also be immune to a bit of excess noise and consider the mud terrain soundtrack to be part of the auditory scenery. It all comes down to your preferences.
Ultimately, the choice between all-terrain and mud terrain tyres is a personal one. Most four-wheel drivers will opt for all-terrain tyres for their versatility, better fuel efficiency and longer life. That said, if you off-road on the regular and want top-tier traction on the most slippery of surfaces—even at the expense of day-to-day conveniences—then mud terrain tyres may be calling your name. Once you’ve reviewed the advantages and the tradeoffs of each, the choice should become clear.
Whichever wheels win in the end, you can find them at Bits4Blokes. Check out our range of regular, all-terrain and mud terrain tyres at our online store and find the fit for your 4WD! At Bits4Blokes, we source the cream of the crop from top manufacturers and brands worldwide. Browse our collection online to enjoy high-quality products and take advantage of our industry-leading customer service!