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What Makes All Terrain Tires Different?

Think buying tires for your truck or Jeep is overly complicated? You’re not alone. There’s width, aspect ratio, speed ratings, construction and more. And if that’s not enough, you’ve got to figure out what type of tire you need. There’s all season, all terrain, and mud terrain tires.  Can you drive your truck with all terrain tires on paved roads? Will all season tires take your Jeep off road safely?  In other words, why are there so many different tires and what makes all terrain tires different from all season tires? The answer lies in how the tires are designed and the materials and methods used to make the tires. Let’s take a look at the differences.

How All Season and All Terrain Tires Perform in Weather

Both all terrain tires and all season tires will do the job in most weather conditions. But, you’ll find that when you ride on wet surfaces you get better performance from the all terrain tire than you do from the all season tire. That’s because all terrain tires are made with a more aggressive design. By more aggressive we mean large tread blocks that extend to the side with generous grooves. The larger the tread blocks, the better grip your truck or Jeep will get on wet roads.

Toyo Tires Open Country R/TThe grooves between those tread blocks are also important when it comes to grip in wet conditions. The grooves in a tire channel water away to increase traction.  With an all season tire, the groves run in a straight line, parallel to the tread blocks. In an all terrain tire, the groves channel water to the sidewalls. Notice how the grooves on this Toyo Open Country R/T tire are on a diagonal. This design moves water across the tire and ejects it out the sidewall.

An all terrain tire has large grooves that can handle water, mud, or snow. An all season tire has narrower grooves.  So, the all season tire can handle the wet road, it just doesn’t do it as well as the all terrain tire if there’s snow or mud.

Siping makes all terrain tires different. Back in 1923, a dude named John Sipe had a problem with slippery shoes. He discovered that when he cut small slices in the soles of his hard rubber shoes, he got better traction and no more slip. John thought that idea should be applied to the manufacture of tires, so he got a patent and the rest is history. His tires may be long gone, but all terrain tires today have slits on the tread blocks that carry his name.  See, when that sipe on the tread block comes in contact with the driving surface, the downward force opens the sipe up. Once open, the sipe provides extra bite and channels extra water away. Your truck or Jeep gets that little bit of extra grip you need when it’s wet. Thanks to John and his slippery shoes.

How All Terrain Tires Perform Off Road

When it comes to off roading, here’s what makes all terrain tires different. All season tires are made for driving on dry or wet paved surfaces. The all terrain tire is made specifically for driving on dry or wet unpaved surfaces. It’s built for rugged terrain.

All terrain tires must bite into uneven terrain without locking into the terrain’s direction. In other words, what makes an all terrain tire different is that when it gets off road, no matter the obstacle, the tire still steers where you put it and not where the terrain puts it.

Remember those wide channels? They’re not only for mud, snow, and water. They eject rocks as well.

Toyo Tires Open Country R/T on Jeep Wrangler

See those small, gravel size rocks in between the larger rocks? If this Jeep was cruising on an all season tire, it could make it up that slight grade, but the narrow, parallel grooves would compact with the dirt and gravel.  Bye bye grip! Those large grooves will eject the dirt and gravel without damaging the tire or the Jeep. Go ahead, zoom in on that Toyo tire and you’ll see deep but clean groves.

Another feature that makes all terrain tires different is their construction.  Rugged terrain requires a rugged construction. All terrain tires are constructed to conform to obstacles. That’s why they are more puncture resistant than an all season tire.  The compounds are incredibly tough but soft as well.  That’s how you can still get forward traction on off camber surfaces.  An all season tire can drive down a paved hill, but an all terrain tire can drive across an unpaved hill.

What Makes All Terrain Tires Different on Paved Surfaces?

We’ve looked at how all terrain tires perform on wet and off road conditions. But what about daily driving on pavement?  What makes all terrain tires different on the street?

Remember those rugged tread blocks and deep grooves? It takes more force to rotate a tire with that design. So, gas mileage suffers slightly.  Those radial shaped grooves also make more noise when they roll. So, the ride isn’t as quiet as an all season tire.  The softer compounds make the ride a little rougher as well.  Your truck or Jeep isn’t going to ride rough enough to knock your fillings out, it just won’t be as smooth as all season highway tires.

Riding regularly on unpaved surfaces can cause cupping. This is an uneven wear pattern that’s not caused by the alignment, but the uneven surface. Off road tires are more prone to cupping and should be rotated more often, whether you ride on paved or unpaved surfaces.

What’s the Best for your Truck or Jeep?

If you are going to take your truck or Jeep off road, go ahead and invest in all terrain tires. Even if you drive on pavement 60% of the time, get all terrain tires.

Toyo Open Country R/T Off Road

The terrain in this picture isn’t incredibly rugged, but the Toyo all terrain is handling it much better than any all season tire ever will. The wet, dirt road isn’t any match for those beefy tread blocks, generous sipes, and deep grooves. And when it hits the paved surface, it will still perform well.

Now that you understand what makes all terrain tires different, it’s clear they are the preferred style of tire for your truck or Jeep.

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