If you have a look at the four wheel drives that actually go off-road, you will find that the majority of them run either All Terrain Tyres or Mud Tyres. The reason is quite simple – normal Highway Terrain Tyres simply don’t have enough grip, strength or durability for four wheel driving. In Australia we are lucky enough to have so much land to explore. A lot of it is harsh, and with poor quality tyres you risk getting stuck. Tyres are by far the best improvement you can do to make your four wheel drive go further.
What makes up a Mud Tyre?
Mud Tyres are designed to chew their way through the harshest of terrain. The lugs are big and chunky, with large gaps in between. On the side of the tyres, often small lugs can be found (known as side biters). These are designed to grip on the side of wheel ruts and often work surprisingly well.
If you allow the side of the tyre to rub on the rut edges often it’s enough to keep moving forward. Mud Tyres usually have in between 12 and 17mm of tread and are easily identified by their ‘chunky’ pattern. All Terrain Tyres are ‘chunkier’ than Highway Terrains, but nowhere near as open as a good set of muddies.
What are the advantages of Mud Terrain Tyres?
The main benefit of Mud Tyres is the extra traction that is available. By having big lugs, Mud Terrain Tyres are able to grab onto slippery rocks and even find grip in those bottomless mud pits! Mud Tyres are designed to clear out quickly by themselves, which is vital for any sticky mud driving. No doubt you would have seen tyres fill up with mud. Once this happens, you have virtually zero traction. Mud Tyres flick the mud away continually until traction is found (or you get completely bogged!).
The other benefit of Mud Terrain Tyres is the extra tread. If you compare the average muddy to an All Terrain or Highway Terrain, you will clearly see that the mud terrain has significantly more tread (in depth). This means that they tend to last longer. Whilst you may pay more for each tyre, they last longer and often work out cheaper per kilometre.
What are Mud Tyres like for sand driving?
You will get many different opinions in regards to whether Mud Tyres are any good for sand driving. Some people say they just dig holes and sink – that they are no good for driving on sand. Other people say that they dig forward and throw the sand out the way. In my experience, if you have the tyres let down to a reasonable pressure you aren’t going to have any issues. I don’t believe by having Highway Terrains or All Terrains that you are going to be more capable on the beach. My Maxxis Bighorns work very well on the sand, and they are about as aggressive as it gets!
How many kilometers can you get from Mud Tyres?
The answer to this question really depends on too many factors to answer. Some of these factors include the weight of your vehicle, the pressures you are running, terrain you regularly drive on, how you drive the vehicle, how often you rotate and balance the tyres and how careful you are with them. I would say in most cases Mud Terrain Tyres last much longer than Highway Terrains. All Terrains might be close in terms of the mileage achievable, but I would also suggest in most cases Muddies come out in front (of course it does depend on the brand that you are running).
Mud Tyres on bitumen in wet weather
Most people will say that Mud Terrains handle better on the road when it’s wet than All Terrains or Highway Terrains do. Again, this largely depends on the tyres you are running and how your vehicle is set up.
What are the disadvantages of Mud Tyres?
I’ve written in other posts that you will never get a ‘perfect tyre’. A tyre that is designed for one terrain isn’t going to be the best at a totally different terrain. However, Mud Terrains are good overall options. The two common complaints you will hear though is that they are noisy and can be hard to balance. Large lugs often results in a whirring noise, mainly above 50km/h. Whether you can hear it depends on the tyre brand, your body seals, the noise of your engine and how loud you play music!
Tyre dealers often dislike balancing Mud Tyres because they are a bit harder to get right. Mud Tyres are rarely made perfectly round and balanced, which means the dealers have to work harder to get them right. It’s nothing to be too concerned about though.
Cheap Mud Tyres
Not so long ago, Maxxis Bighorns were the tyre to get. They are a great tyre, and they were very cheap. However, recently Maxxis have raised the price a fair bit (and they now sell Bighorn 762’s which are slightly different). Whether they are still great value, I don’t know. I will make a few points regarding cheap Mud Tyres though.
– The cheapest price tyres are not necessarily the cheapest in the long run. What does a puncture cost you when you are somewhere remote? If they wear much faster than a more expensive tyre are you really saving money? It’s well worth comparing the tread depth and compound softness.
– Where are you going to take the tyres? If they are just play tyres and you aren’t going anywhere remote do you really need the best quality tyres? How do you treat them?
– The best way to get Cheap Mud Tyres is to shop around. I don’t mean ring 2 companies and see who sells the cheapest tyres. Ring at least 5, and then see if you can negotiate a better deal. If you say Tyre Dealer so and so sells them for $xxx each, will you beat it you will often end up with the best deal.
– Don’t ignore the potential online sales. You might think buying something so large would be uneconomical because of freight, but you will be surprised. You can often import tyres from America (including freight) for cheaper than you can get them here!
Mud Tyre options
Some of the more popular Mud Terrain Tyres include:
– Maxxis Bighorn 762
– Mickey Thompson MTZ
– Mickey Thompson Claws
– BFG KM2 and KM3
– Goodyear Wrangler
– Cooper STT
– Pro Comp Xtreme M/T
– Toyo RT
– Toyo MT
If you want the best value, have a look online at some of the 4×4 Forum reviews. There is so much information online and you should be able to get a reasonably accurate review of Mud Tyres.
I mentioned above the depth of tread matters. Have a think about the compound too. Some tyres have significantly more tread than others, and as a result will last for longer. The softness of the tyre also plays a big role in how they perform and wear. The softer they are the better traction you will have, but at the cost of faster wear.
All Terrains or Mud Terrains?
For those who are wondering whether they should be getting All Terrain Tyres or Mud Terrain Tyres, the choice comes down to what terrain you drive on. If you do limited mud driving, they are probably not worth getting. However, they are great for rock work so it does really depend. For me, traction is more important than road noise so I choose to get the most traction I can.
Getting a good set of tyres is by far the best modification you can do to your four wheel drive to make it more capable. All the power in the world isn’t going to get you anywhere if the wheels just spin! If you are happy with a set of Mud Tyres, let me know below.