Choosing off-road tires: AT or MT?

It’s funny, but a fact: in order to be able to use an off-road vehicle just bought at a car dealership for its intended purpose (i.e., go off-road), the first thing he needs to do is change tires. In fact, cars sold in car dealerships are “shod” with rubber, which is mostly suitable for driving on asphalt, and even then in the warm season. Sellers offer best all-terrain tires for the season in order to make the purchase more attractive, but most often it concerns winter tires in winter (and even then, closer to Christmas and New Year, when the sale race begins). The rest of the time, you will be sold cars with “universal” tires, the universality of which is that they work equally mediocre on any surface.

If you take a used car, then as a dowry from the previous owner you may get the “right” wheels, which have not yet been completely “driven out”. But more often than not, the situation is that after buying a car you also have to acquire a set of new “shoes”. And here the question arises - what to choose?

For understanding, summer tires can be conditionally divided into four main classes:
• highway (road)
• universal or AT (short for “All-Terrain”, literally “any terrain”)
• mud or MT (short for “Mud Terrain”, literally “ mud covered terrain ”)
• extreme, ie tires for extreme off-road

There are intermediate options like “extreme AT”, but these are marketing tricks rather than serious products. Winter wheels can be conditionally divided into two types:

• I + S (ice & snow, ice and snow) - for traveling on public roads
• M + S (mud & snow, mud and snow) - have a more developed tread and can successfully applied outside paved roads in moderate conditions. Such tires are very similar to AT class tires, but differ in the composition of the rubber compound (great softness, good grip on ice) and a specific “winter” tread pattern.

Winter tires can be both studded and studless, and MT summer tires can have regular holes designed for installing studs - thus, manufacturers seem to hint at the permissibility of using such tires in winter, but I personally do not recommend falling for this bait , because we all know that there are no universal solutions. MT tires can be successfully used in winter in difficult off-road conditions, where it is problematic to develop high speeds, but I would not recommend driving them on asphalt in the cold season - this is still a pleasure. Summer AT-tires can also be labeled “M + S”, hinting at the possibility of using them in the winter, but I would advise against taking this hint seriously.

AT class tires beckon with their “universality”, relatively low price and manufacturers’ recommendations stating that such tires are recommended for machines that spend up to 20% of their time outside the asphalt. The manufacturer is only silent about the fact that time spent off-road and the severity of road conditions are two big differences. However, on unsuitable tires, most off-road sorties can be carried out in attempts to rescue the car, and then of course, the severity of the road conditions directly affects the time spent “in pampas”.