The Best Tires for Off Road Vehicles

Selecting tires for your off road vehicle may appear difficult. With a little thought and planning, the selection process can become easier. All you really need to do is ask yourself a few basic questions:

  1. What kind of vehicle am I driving (truck vs. ATV vs. dune buggy, for example)?

  2. What do I need the vehicle to do (travel on mud, rocks, sand, or highways)?

  3. Where will the vehicle be driven (arid Southwest desert, coastal trails, deep snow)?

  4. How much time do I have, and what is my monetary budget?

Each of these options should help you to narrow down the right tires for your off road vehicle. possible candidates.

LC Image - The Best Tires for Off Road Vehicles

All Terrain Tires: Hedging Your Bets

All terrain tires are a great option if your recreational vehicle also happens to be your main vehicle. For the most part, all-terrain tires are a great value, and they are designed with an interlocking tread that chews up mud, snow, ice, rocks, and highway driving. They give a great all-around performance, but sometimes falter in extreme environments.

Performance can be the deciding factor with all terrain tires. Their affordability is made even more attractive by the fact that it is possible to get decent highway gas mileage from your truck. Factory tires on most trucks are typically all season tires rather than all terrain tires, and they are made to deal with paved roads in different degrees of wet or ice.

Mud Tires: Get a Grip

Mud tires are more specialized than all terrain tires. In general they are more aggressive in profile, with larger lugs and harder wearing, durable sidewalls. Mud tires are best for those vehicles that spend most of their time off paved roads. The bigger, softer grip of these tires wears depressingly fast on pavement and contributes to a much louder ride.

They are particularly useful on very rough ground, absorbing impact and chewing through challenging terrain, but at a cost. Mud tires, like all higher-performance equipment, are more expensive and wear out more quickly. The greater performance can be worth it in order to tackle the most harrowing trails, to go farther and faster down them, and to get back with the least amount of potential mechanical failure attached.

Sand tires are a subcategory of mud tires. Sand tires are very soft and gripping, with additional horizontal or V-shaped treads to better traverse loose sand efficiently.

All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs)  and Utility Type Vehicles (UTVs) can come factory equipped with mud tires or all terrain tires, so know your gear, both before you buy and before you hit the trails.

Snow Tires: Bogging in a Winter Wonderland

Snow tires can be a good investment if you live in a region that experiences frigid winter weather. Snow tires have larger lugs like mud tires, but have a more complex tread structure featuring channels called “sipes” to really bite into the slippery conditions. Composed of rubber that stays pliant and gripping even in subzero temperatures, snow tires give great, safe traction but at the cost of a louder, rougher ride and decreased gas mileage.

Size Matters: Tires and Rims

There's no argument that tall tires just look sharp, but there's more to a great performing truck or ATV than looking pretty. In particular, bigger, taller tires give you more clearance, which means you can safely take on rougher trails without getting hung up or bending a rim.

Check your owners manual, which will give the dimensions of the tires safely allowed for your vehicle. The biggest possible choice printed in your manual will get you the best possible performance out of your vehicle, outside of the possibility of a lift kit. With one of these, more clearance is available so you don't shred your sidewall on your own fender, but some restraint and logic is still desirable.

If you do upgrade the size of your tires, don't neglect to change out your rims if necessary. Under- or over-sized rims can decrease the lifespan of both your tires and your vehicle. Changing these components changes performance output, gear ratios, and how basic features (like brakes and steering components) fit and function. Safety should always be of primary concern, but there's no reason why a safe vehicle can't be fun, too. 

Mavis Tires and Brakes

Mavis, one of the largest independent tire and service providers in the United States, is based in Millwood, New York, with locations across 21 states, including New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida. In addition to its expansive selection of tires from more than 20 major brands, Mavis offers a menu of services including oil changes, brakes, alignments, suspension repair, shocks/struts, and exhaust.