What Is An All-Terrain Tire?

An all-terrain tire is a type of tire that is designed to be used on a variety of road conditions including highways, gravel roads, dirt, grass, rock, mud, sand, and light snow. Its reinforced sidewalls, deep tread, and knobby design define this tire. It provides a mix of traction, comfort, and durability suitable for both on- and off-road driving. However, they are noisier on smooth roads than all-season tires.

Tread Design and Features of All-Terrain Tires

All-terrain tires usually feature large, sturdy sidewalls and pronounced treads. The blocky tread pattern is not just for looks, but to grip unstable surfaces effectively.

The depth of the tread can be up to twice as deep as that of an all-season tire. Some all-terrain tires also include Kevlar for added toughness. This rugged design allows the tires to flex and release when encountering obstacles like mud, rocks, and gravel​.

Types of All-Terrain Tires

Manufacturers broadly categorize all-terrain tires into two main types to cater to different driving conditions and preferences: On-Road All-Terrain Tires and Off-Road All-Terrain Tires.

On-Road All-Terrain Tires

On-road all-terrain tires are designed to provide a balance between the quiet, comfortable ride quality of highway tires and some mild off-road capability of more aggressive tire types.

On-road all-terrain tires typically have a more conservative tread pattern than off-road-focused tires. But they still offer deeper grooves and more substantial tread blocks than standard highway tires for better traction in varied conditions, such as loose dirt, gravel, and light mud. Reinforced sidewalls and robust construction make them durable and resistant to damage from rough road conditions​​.

Off-Road All-Terrain Tires

Off-road all-terrain tires, sometimes known as Mud-Terrain tires, are designed for extreme off-road conditions. They feature oversized designs to work with pickup trucks and SUVs, often used with lift kits for additional ground clearance.

These tires have deeper tread grooves and more aggressive tread blocks, with notches at the shoulders to enhance lateral grip in deep mud. They may also allow for aired-down operations to navigate over rocks and obstacles more effectively.

Off-road all-terrain tires are built with extra durability. This includes layers of fabric reinforcement, rim protector, and enhanced steel belt packages to withstand the rigors of off-road use. They also resist damage from rocks and other hazards​.

What Types of Vehicles Use All-Terrain Tires?

Vehicles such as SUVs, trucks, trailers, crossovers, and other four-wheel vehicles are suitable contenders for using all-terrain tires. It is essential to choose the correct tire size and load index that matches your vehicle’s specifications to ensure safety and optimal performance.

Pros and Cons of All-terrain Tires

Many favor all-terrain tires for their versatility, but they come with some trade-offs. Here’s a concise list of their pros and cons:


  • Versatility: Capable of handling a range of driving conditions, from highways to dirt trails and from rocky mountains to mud and sandy dunes​​.
  • Traction: Provide reasonable grip in various conditions including dry and wet surfaces. Although the wet traction is not very impressive.
  • Durability: Tougher construction than highway tires, resisting punctures and damage which saves money over time​​.
  • Aesthetics: Offer a rugged, aggressive look that can enhance the vehicle’s appearance​​.


  • Noise: Generate more road noise compared to highway tires due to their aggressive tread pattern​​.
  • Comfort: Stiffer than highway tires, potentially leading to a rougher ride which might be uncomfortable on longer trips​​. However, on-road all-terrain tires provide the required comfort level similar to all-season tires.
  • Cost: Generally more expensive owing to their durable construction and multi-terrain design​​.
  • Fuel Economy: Higher rolling resistance can lead to reduced fuel economy and increased fuel costs​

Are All-Terrain Tires Good for Daily Driving?

All-terrain tires can be suitable for daily driving because they offer a good balance of performance on various surfaces and durability. However, they may produce more road noise and slightly reduce fuel efficiency compared to regular tires. For drivers who frequently encounter poor roads along with smooth roads, the trade-offs may be worthwhile for the enhanced traction and versatility.