It’s that tempting first upgrade for most JK owners. Your first-ever tire choice and it can be a fairly daunting task to pick the right one. A mud terrain isn’t perfect for every situation, just as an all-terrain isn’t perfect either. It comes down to a compromise on what you want to do, what you expect to do, and what you’ll really do with your JK. Let’s take a quick look into mud tires and all-terrain tires.
Mud-terrain tires are designed with a tread pattern that allows the treads to self-clean and expose another lug to bite into the dirt or mud. These will also feature a tread pattern that follows onto the sidewall for further grip, and thicker, numerous sidewall plies for puncture resistance. Mud tires are also usually made of a softer rubber compound than highway and most all-terrain tires for more grip.
It’s a popular style tire for trail trucks that will see nearly anything. However, those bigger spaces between the lugs will create road growl and can be very loud as air gets compressed into the asphalt as the tires rotate. The air pressure is higher and when ejected to the atmosphere at the exit of the contact patch is where the noise comes from as the tires rotate. Those increased plys in the sidewall will make the ride bumpier and the softer compound will mean faster wear, less life and less gas mileage, too.
All-terrain tires don’t feature a tread that is as aggressive as the mud-terrain Tire. They don’t feature the same deep grooves and their self-cleaning properties aren’t as good as the mud-terrain, so while you can still take them on your local trail, the lack of a sidewall tread pattern and shallow lugs will make it difficult to get out of any deep mud or silt desert situations. However, their performance on the highway, while still being able to go where the pavement ends can’t be overlooked. Add the increased life thanks to a harder compound than mud-terrains, and you can save gas over them for pluses as well. All of those sipes and spaces also help reduce road noise, so you get a quieter ride along the way for another plus.