What Are All-Terrain Tires Used For? (+ How They Differ)

All-terrain tires are a special set of tires geared towards providing balanced traction in every terrain, like the name implies.

They are not to be confused with all-season tires, which are to be used across different times and seasons of the year. 

The question is, beyond being an “all-terrain tire, ” what are the other things they are used for and how do they differ from other tires?”. 

This article hopes to provide sufficient answers to this question while examining all the sides to having all-terrain tires. 

Here’s the Short Answer to What All-Terrain Tires Are Used For:

All-terrain tires are tires designed to bolster traction on different kinds of road surface, whether off-road or on-road. These tires are the favorite of people who love wilderness adventures, mud and desert sports and other off-road activities that require high levels of traction.


How Are All-Terrain Tires Different?

All-terrain tires differ from other tires because they have a mix of on-road and off-road capabilities. This means that they can maintain and even improve traction on wet, dry, muddy and rocky roads. 

They can also deal with a little of snow as long as it is light, shallow, and not too extreme.

So, whether it’s on the highway or in the mud, all-terrain tires will come through for you. Think of them as a hybrid of some sort. 

They are also majorly designed for specific classes of vehicles like light trucks, pick-up trucks, large SUVs as well as campers. This means that A/T tires, unlike regular tires, aren’t really suitable for smaller/lighter cars. 

What Are All-Terrain Tires Good For?

Like we mentioned before, all-terrain tires are good for providing traction on all kinds of surfaces, from the on-road to the off-road. 

Thanks to their open-tread design, they have enough tread elements to get a good grip in off-road conditions and they also provide great handling for normal road conditions. 

They basically give drivers a decent taste of both worlds, guaranteeing year-round usability. 

Pros of Using All-Terrain Tires

There are a great deal of benefits that come with switching to all-terrain tires. They include:

Open Tread Design

All-terrain tires have an open tread design that makes for superior traction and grip on off-road conditions and great handling on normal road conditions.

This means that you can expect a decent enough performance from A/T tires on a paved highway road and an unpaved muddy road.

Sidewalls With Extra Strength

All-terrain tires come with reinforced sidewalls, which means they are super strong and can help improve your car’s hauling/towing capacity even in extreme conditions.

They basically ensure that your car can endure a great deal of roughness and ruggedness without sacrificing stability. 

Non-Seasonal Usability

One of the most impressive things about all-terrain tires is their year-round usability.

Since they can handle virtually all road conditions to a decent degree, there will be little need for weather-specific or condition-specific tires.

If you have all-terrain tires, you most likely would not have to change your tires to winter tires during winter time. Not unless you are going to be dealing with very extreme weather and road conditions.

Cons of Using All-Terrain Tires

Like almost every commodity in this world, there are downsides to using all-terrain tires, some of which are:

Noisy Treads

Thanks to the open tread design, air doesn’t flow through the grooves as smoothly as it does in regular tires.

This causes increased noise level while driving and can be really irritating and uncomfortable.

Reduced Fuel Efficiency

If you own a truck or a large SUV, chances are, your gas mileage is mid-tier or downright terrible. And, adding new sets of all-terrain tires will likely further deplete the car’s fuel efficiency. 

The reasons for this include increased wind resistance of the tire, the grip and tread patterns and their heavy-duty characteristics. 

Shorter Tread Life

Another downside to having all-terrain tires is the relative brevity of their tread life.

So, while the tread design and soft rubber help to generate traction, they also affect the tire’s durability with an expected life mileage of 40,000 miles. 

Cupping Problems

All-terrain tires are very vulnerable to cupping due to the aggressive nature of their design. Just in case you didn’t know, cupping, also known as scalloping, refers to a situation where the tread randomly moves from high to low. 

One way to stop this, however, is by rotating the tires frequently and paying attention to maintenance of vital parts like the suspension and the rims. 

Related: Are All-Terrain Tires Bad For Your Car? (Explained)

What Vehicle Should Use All-Terrain Tires?

Like we mentioned at some point in the article, all-terrain tires are not meant for smaller/lighter cars. Below are the types of vehicles that are perfectly suited and would benefit from a switch to A/T tires:


Campers often need tires with huge sizes of up to 37 inches. They also benefit a great deal from stiff sidewalls and aggressive tread, all of which are offered by all-terrain tires.

That explains why campers are one of the few vehicles that work well with them. 

Pick-up Trucks

Pick-up trucks often bear a lot of burdens, in that owners can have them on a paved road one minute, and on the off-road, the other.

They are also used to tow and haul up to 6,000 pounds of weight and all-terrain tires help them carry out these expectations across all surfaces. 

So, if you are going to be towing with a pickup truck and much of it is going to be in off-road conditions, all-terrain tires would be perfect. 

Light Trucks

Unlike pick-up trucks, light trucks cannot go beyond 4,000 pound of weight. However, they both share some similarities, one of which is that they can be used off-road and on-road. 

Light trucks with all-terrain tires also perform better at towing, even in not-so-ideal road conditions. 


Depending on the purpose of your rides, all-terrain tires could also be a great fit for SUVs. If you are going to be doing a lot of off-roading with your SUV, you should absolutely consider all-terrain tires. 

Just make sure you select A/T tires with the appropriate load indexes and you are good to go. 

4WD Cars

Regular cars with four-wheel drive may also work well with all-terrain tires if they do a lot of off-roading. However, this can be a delicate choice because a lot of things have to be in place for the arrangement to work. 

This includes getting A/T tires that match or surpass the speed rate and load index specifications from the manufacturer. The size would also have to be congruent with the wheel and the aspect ratio. 

Related: Are All-Terrain Tires Bigger? (Explained)

Is It Recommended to Use All-Terrain Tires?

All-terrain tires are recommended if you have the right vehicle and you are going to be using it off-road as much as you do on paved roads.

If that’s what you do with your car, the all-terrain tires are a perfect fit without question. 

However, if your vehicle majorly does off-roading and constantly deals with extreme levels of mud, snow and the likes, you should go for specific tires. We are talking mud tires and snow tires, amongst others. 

In the same vein, if you don’t do much off-roading and your car spends most of the time on a paved highway, highway tires would be the answer. 

Summarily, all-terrain tires are best recommended when your car spends as much time on the off-road as it does on paved roads. 

Related: Are All-Terrain Tires Good For Towing? (Explained)

What Are the Most Popular All-Terrain Tire Brands?

While popularity doesn’t always equal quality, it does speak to a great level of acceptance amongst consumers and often influences the choice of those who are new to the market.

Below is a list of the most popular all-terrain tire brands:

BF Goodrich

BF Goodrich is perhaps the most popular all-terrain tire brand in the market. They manufacture the highly rated BF Goodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2, which is considered by many as the best A/T tires in the market. 

If you are not convinced enough, they produce the stock A/T tires for the Ford F-150 (Raptor trim) and the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon. 

Yokohama Geolandar

Yokohama Geolandar is also one of the top all-terrain tire brands. They are the brains behind the Geolandar A/T GO15, a set of tires with all-round quality, durability and relative quietness.

Little wonder, they are the stock all terrain tires for the all-new Subaru Outback Wilderness. 


Goodyear is a reputable tire brand and they manufacture the Wrangler All-Terrain Adventure With Kevlar.

This particular set of all-terrain tires are some of the best on the market and they are the stock tires for the new Ford Bronco and Toyota Tacoma (TRD Off-road)

General Grabber

General Grabber is the brand that manufactures the excellent General Grabber A/TX tire. This particular tire is beloved for its affordability, durability, off-roading capabilities and its great handling on paved roads. 

It also has a three-peak mountain snowflake symbol rating, indicating great snow performance. 


Falken are a reputable tire brand and they manufacture a wide range of tires, including A/T tires. They produced the incredible Falken WildPeak A/T3W, which is one of the best all-terrain tires on the market currently. 

They are also the stock all-terrain tires for the Ram 1500 trim level with the off-road package. 

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