Are All-Terrain Tires Worth It? (Explained)

If it’s time to change your tires, you might want to consider all-terrain tires. All-terrain tires have been around for as long as there have been tires.

All-terrain tires came into play because of the different surfaces or terrain that cars drive on. Cars that are used for off-roading only have a different tread design than tires used in heavy snow.

For weather-affected surfaces, such as when it is raining or snowing heavily, you might have to use all-weather tires. These are great for very slippery roads and grip as much of the surface as possible for maximum traction.

All-terrain tires (A/Ts) are also called “jack of all trade” because they are suitable for most types of surfaces and roads. They work well for highway driving and just as well for off-roading.

But just how would you know if all-terrain tires are right for you and your vehicle? And what are the pros and cons of having all-terrain tires against regular highway tires?

In this article, we’ll delve deeper and find out whether all-terrain tires are worth it for you and your vehicle.


Do All-Terrains Tires Really Make a Difference?

To answer this, you have to be honest about how and where the car is used often. If you live in the city and never use your car off-road, then it’s best to stick with regular highway tires.

On the other hand, if you drive on different surfaces, like when off-roading, all-terrain tires are your best bet. They will give you the best bang for your buck.

This is because all-terrain tires can be used both for normal highway driving and off-roading alike.

They give the best of both worlds, providing maximum traction on the highway. They’re also versatile and smooth bumpy rides when off-roading.

With that said, we can safely conclude that all-terrain tires are worth it for most people. They are most suitable for those people that go off-roading every now and again.

Factors that make A/Ts so attractive are improved handling and a smoother ride.
A/Ts are also more common on SUVs, pickup trucks, and heavy-load vehicles. These vehicles carry heavy loads, so traction from all-terrain tires is a big benefit.

So, for example, if you run a moving company carrying heavy loads in your vehicles, all-terrain tires are definitely worth it.

Another factor to consider when choosing tires is the weather you drive in. If your winters come with lots of heavy rain and snow, you might need to consider snow tires or all-weather tires.

Such tires are specially designed to not skid when driven on slick or snowed out roads. 

Even though all-terrain tires are known as the jack of all trades, they are not specifically made to handle heavy weather. It also holds true for off-road tires, or racing tires, which all have their driving purposes.

Can You Use All-Terrain Tires All Year?

All-terrain tires fare well in most conditions and can last as long as they’re well-maintained. Rather than changing tires every time you have an off-road trip or bad weather, you can still use your all-terrain tires.

Because of their versatility, they can be used throughout the year. Yearly climate changes need not be a burden for you.

Throughout the year, you might experience different weather conditions. Snowy and really hot areas affect tires in different ways.

In really bad winters, rubber tires can contract and become really hard to the touch. In hot conditions, the tires will expand and become softer than usual because of the heat.
This is why most people opt to change tires as seasons change. This is a safety measure to ensure your tires are working at optimum levels.

With all-terrain tires, this is not necessary because of the way they are designed.

A/Ts will work well under rough conditions such as snowy roads. But at about 7-10 degrees celsius, the performance of the tire worsens. This is due to compounds in the tire that are regulated for warmer conditions.

Even if you don’t intend on doing any off-road driving, A/Ts can come in handy. Some people just fit these tires for the added control and traction in their vehicle.

Are All-Terrain Tires More Expensive?

One of the most important costs of maintaining a vehicle is the cost of tire replacement. Tires can increase in cost by size and type.

Looking at the benefits of all-terrain tires, you might consider them super expensive. It’s not always the case due to different manufacturers offering different prices.

With so many brands out there, it puts that much more pressure on choosing the right tires. You must consider cost, brand, and where your vehicle will be driven most.

For above $200, you can get pretty decent all-terrain tires from a reputable brand. These will perform better on overall surfaces and also last a bit longer.

All-terrain tires that are under $200 will be good enough, but this is where you have to be careful. You have to research the brand and check reviews.

Checking the history of the tire brand allows you to make an informed decision. You can then decide on whether you are choosing the right tire or not.

The benefits of pricier tires are that they can last longer and you might even get extras such as stone ejectors. Although the cheaper options will work, you’ll also have to worry about how long they’ll last.

Good Quality All-Terrain Tire Brands

Below is a list of quality all-terrain tire brands:

  • Michelin
  • Falken
  • Toyo
  • Kumho
  • Goodyear
  • BF-Goodrich
  • Yokohama

It is best to save up before considering going for a tire replacement. This enables you to have the freedom to choose from a wide range of brands.

All-terrain tires are definitely more expensive than regular and highway tires. The better the quality of the tire, the more mileage you’ll get.

These tires can last you about 40,000 miles. But with quality tires from a reputable brand, you can get as far as 50,000 miles.

It’s best to ask for advice from a mechanic or dealership on which brand to go for. A good set of all-terrain tires not only gives you peace of mind, but can also save you some money as well.

Related: Should All Car Tires Have the Same Pressure? (Explained)

Is All-Terrain The Same As “All-Weather Tires”?

All-weather tires are generally not the same as all-terrain tires because of the way each is designed.

All-weather tires have the advantage of improved performance in a wider variety of climates. You can use them in both very hot and very cold conditions.

The major difference between the two types is that all-terrain tires also consider driving surfaces.

All-terrain tires perform well on muddy, rocky, and even sandy roads. This is on top of the added advantage of performing well in different weather.

All-weather tires, on the other hand, focus more on weather than performance on different terrains. The traction and grip on the A/Ws are not a great concern when the tire is being manufactured.

With that said, all-weather tires also have their own set of benefits to be considered. They don’t make as much noise and give a better grip on wet surfaces.

Another advantage of all-weather tires is the effect on fuel consumption. Fuel economy for all-weather tires is much better than A/Ts.

Both A/Ts and A/Ws provide great grip on dry street roads, but they have different tread pattern designs.

Can You Drive All-Terrain Tires on the Highway?

All-terrain tires usually come with their own set of benefits and pitfalls. One of the most worrying is the noise that comes from A/Ts when driving on the highway.

Highway speeds are usually faster and therefore produce more revolutions of the wheel. The faster all-terrain tires spin, the more noise they’ll produce.

All-terrain tires perform well on highways and at highway speeds. This is considering that the tires were installed properly and well-inflated.

Improperly balanced tires can lead to more noise on the highway. At highway speeds, all-terrain tires are also known to cause some vibration.

Most of the time, the noise produced by all-terrain tires can be annoying for a while. After some time driving at highway speeds, the noise dissipates or is no longer annoying.

Normal highway tires are not manufactured the same as all-terrain and all-weather tires. The design of the small lined spaces is not the same.

Those spaces and lines on the tire differ by depth, length, and design. Because of this, the grip and traction can be controlled.

All-terrain tires are manufactured with deeper and wider grooved lines on the tire. These lines are also directed in an outward direction from the center of the tire.

This direction of the spaced lines goes against the forward movement of the tire. Therefore, it creates more friction between the tire and the road.

When air passes through these grooves and spaced lines, noise is produced. The noise differs in intensity, depending on the brand and design of the all-terrain tire.

Most drivers who experience this noise are usually just starting out with all-terrain tires. They are not used to the noise, but after driving for a while, it becomes background noise.

As we’ve said before, A/Ts are manufactured differently. In other cases, manufacturers may cut corners and make the spaces bigger, resulting in more noise.

A/Ts are set apart from other types of tires by the tread pattern and design, resulting in maximum friction and improved handling for the vehicle.

Related: Should All Car Tires Have the Same Pressure? (Explained)

Do All-Terrain Tires Get Worse Gas Mileage?

Yet another factor that carries weight when considering types of tires is how much mileage you’ll get out of them. You’ll get better or worse mileage out of your car, depending on the type of tires you use.

Going back to the benefits of all-terrain tires, we know they provide great traction and grip on the road. The tread pattern is designed for more grip on the road, resulting in improved handling for your vehicle.

However, the benefit of all-terrain tires is also a downfall when it comes to mileage. Increased grip on the road results in faster wear and tear for the tires.

Faster wear and tear means you’ll have to get the tires replaced way sooner than with regular tires. It’s also one of the factors that make all-terrain more expensive to own.

Regular highway tires that come with your car are replaced at about 60,000 miles or so. With A/Ts, you can reach up to 40,000 miles before having to go for a tire replacement.

This is much sooner than the normal tires, meaning money has to be coughed out sooner.

Other than tire replacement costs, fuel costs are also a factor in determining mileage with all-terrain tires. The greater the grip on the road also means the vehicle has a lot more drag.

More drag means higher fuel consumption, resulting in higher fuel usage.

All-terrain tires affect gas mileage in both small city cars, SUVs and heavy vehicles alike.

It’s estimated that all-terrain tires decrease fuel efficiency by about 3% compared to regular highway tires. This might not seem like much, but it can add up over a year and increase ownership costs.

This is also of great concern now that car manufacturers are pushing out more fuel-efficient cars. Government regulations to keep CO2 emissions low are the main cause for this.

There’s no arguing that this is a good thing for the environment. But it also means that manufacturers are forced to cut corners to reduce emissions.

All-terrain tires from one manufacturer might be of lower quality compared to another producer. Motorists have to be careful when considering which brand of tires to buy.

Lower quality tires will often result in faster wear and tear, leading to increased tire replacement costs. High-quality tires will save you money in both fuel costs and replacement expenses.

It is also why it is advised to have your tires fitted by a reputable outlet with high-quality tires.

Related: How Long Do All-Season Tires Last? (Checked)

Do Mechanics Generally Recommend All-Terrain Tires?

A good mechanic will know almost everything there is to know about your vehicle’s components. The tires are no different because most mechanics know how to choose a good brand of tires.

When mechanics recommend all-terrain tires, it’s usually because of the comfort and traction they provide.

Mechanics will also recommend the best option when it comes to vehicle handling and improved traction.

Another benefit to all-terrain tires that mechanics like is the ability of A/Ts to carry heavy loads. All-terrain tires have reinforced sidewalls which give the vehicle better load-carrying capacity.

Normal wear and tear are to be expected in all-terrain tires, as with normal highway tires.

Because of the different tread patterns and designs, different tires will have different wear and tear patterns. This is the case with all-terrain tires, which wear out much faster than regular tires.

Faster wear and tear usually means A/Ts are costlier than their counterparts. It also means reliability is also affected greatly.

What’s known as tread erosion is when the treads of the tire wear out. Worn-out tires can be difficult to deal with because it means you have to replace them urgently.

Another factor affecting reliability with A/T tires is uneven wear and tear. When all-terrain tires are unevenly worn out, it usually leads to vibrations when driving the car.

Drivers using all-terrain tires usually experience vibrations when driving at certain speeds. This can be traced to uneven wear and tear with the tires.

Maybe the front wheel tires are worn out more than the rear tires. The same can happen with one side of tires that is not even compared to the other side.

If your tires are newly installed, the issue might not be wear and tear. Bad wheel alignment, brake system issues, or improperly inflated tires can all lead to a noisy or vibrating car.

It’s always advised to have your tires replaced by an experienced and registered mechanic or your dealership. A good installation should eliminate noise and vibration issues for all-terrain tires.

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