What is the right kind of tire?
There was this one time (not at band camp) I ended up stranded in the mountains of Wyoming, in the dark, no cell service, and a known bear to be in the area. This happened due to a bad tire, and boy, I don’t want to go through that again. I learned first hand that tires really do make a huge difference and in Wyoming for example, where there are a lot of gravel and dirt roads, cheap tires are not worth the risk. It’s worth noting too, that new trucks usually come equipped with highway tires (unless upgraded through the dealership or from the factory). These may do ok short term on dirt and gravel roads, but perhaps not the best for long-term use. Choosing the right tire for the type of terrain, weather and driving you do is important. Here, we are looking at all-terrain tires.
What are ‘All-Terrain’ tires?
A fully fledged rock crawling or oversized mud tire is great for those purposes but not very civilized for every day driving. A more practical all around tire that is is acceptable on the highway but also capable of negotiating sand, gravel, dirt. These will also perform to some extent on snow.
The NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Administration) has a wear rating system to determine how long the tire will last. The higher the number, the longer it will last. The way it works is a control tire is given a rating of 100. A tire grade of 200 is expected to last twice as long as that of a tire with a 100 rating. NHTSA says that of current tires,
- 15% are rated below 200
- 25% are rated 201 – 300
- 32% are rated 301 – 400
- 20% are rated 401 – 500
- 6% are rated 501 – 600
- 2% are rated above 600
NHTSA traction is graded from highest to lowest as “AA”, “A”, “B”, and “C”. This rated for how well the tire can stop on wet pavement. ‘AA’ being the best and ‘C’ being the worst
Which All-Terrain Tires are the best?
After talking with some tire experts at Fremont Motors and checking out research and reviews, we came up with a list. These are the tires that consistently come up (from various sources) as the best all-terrain tires. In no particular order;
BF Goodridge All-Terrain T/A KO
According to the BF Goodridge tire rating system, this all-terrain tire gets a score of 8/10 for off-road performance. It gets an 8/10 for braking, 6/10 for comfort, and 6/10 for fuel efficiency. It also features ‘Stone Ejectors’ to protect the tire as well as ‘Mud-phobic Bars’ in the shoulder to aid traction in mud. This tire passes ‘Severe Snow Traction Requirements’. Treadwear/traction rating is not yet rated by the NHTSA, however, the manufacturers rate it at a 9/10 for wear.
Cooper Discoverer A/T3
Mud and snow rated, the Cooper Discoverer A/T3 get’s amazing ratings for dry and west performance as well as tread wear. Cooper tires rate them at about a 6 for off-road performance but around an 8/10 for quietness. They come with 60,000 miles of treadwear protection with the NHTSA treadwear rating at 560. Traction rating is an ‘A’.
Nitto Terra Grappler
This tire comes with a choice of two sidewall designs. Nitto rates these as 4/5 for dry performance, 4/5 for wet performance,3.5/5 for comfort. For quietness, Nitto gives a 4/5 and off-road performance 3/5. Treadwear rating of 500. It’s worth noting the Terra Grappler G2 gets a treadwear rating of 600. Traction rating is ‘A’.
General Grabber AT2
Winter rated and available with a studdable option, this all-terrain tire comes with a 45-day trial. It features an aggressive 5-row tread pattern that is also self-cleaning. General Tires say that the acoustics of the tire are highly engineered to make the aggressive tire still quiet on paved roads. NHTSA treadwear rating is 640. Traction rating is ‘A’.
Goodyear Wrangler MT/R Kevlar / Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac
With sidewall made from DuPont™ Kevlar® (the same as bulletproof vests), this tire is more resistant to punctures in the sidewall from rocks. It also features a wrap-around tread for extra grip in mud, sand, and rocks. The MT/R is the top of the line all-terrain tire from Goodyear. Other options include the Wrangler DuraTrac which an all-terrain tire that is winter rated unlike the MT/R with Kevlar. The MT/R seems to have limited availability in sizes according to my search. The MT/Rs are more towards an aggressive off-road tire vs the DuraTrac that is more of all around all-terrain. From personal experience, the DuraTrac’s are not exceptional in wet mud, but do good in snow, gravel, and rocks. NHTSA wear rating for the DuraTrac is 500 and the MT/R is not rated.
Looking to switch out tires soon? Most of these tires should be available at your preferred Fremont Motors dealership. They will also be able to assist with sizes if you still have the same size as the factory tires. Not sure how to figure out what size you need, check out our article on What Do the Numbers on Tires Mean?
“Search | Safercar — National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).” Tires Rating, NHTSA, 2018, www.safercar.gov/Vehicle-Shoppers/Tires-Rating/Search?brand=Goodyear.
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Lauren has been working in the automotive industry both in the U.K and in the U.S. for over 10 years. A car geek, photographer, big game chaser and bagpipe player, powered by coffee. Send your questions to: