Updated June 2022
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Buying guide for Best mud tires

You’ve moved up from standard off-road tires and those tame, bone-dry gravel roads. It’s time to seek out the gnarliest mudholes, the deepest bogs. It’s time for mud tires. For most drivers, mud tires aren’t even a consideration. However, these tires can be a godsend for off-roaders who really need the best traction possible over the roughest terrain.

Not every mud tire is suited for every situation. That’s why buyers have to be careful about what type of tires they use. Fortunately, BestReviews can help guide you through the decision.

This shopping guide has tips, advice, and information to help you choose the right mud tires for your vehicle.

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Mud tires are just one part of a vehicle’s traction system. The drive train, axle, suspension, and wheel all play their parts in off-roading and must be taken into consideration when choosing a mud tire.

What are mud tires?

Mud tires are larger, reinforced off-road tires designed to help a four-wheel-drive vehicle grind its way out of deep, slick mudholes. Mud tires are just one class of terrain tire with a specific purpose – the widely spaced lugs and asymmetrical tread pattern keep mud from packing into the spaces between the treads, a situation that would have all-terrain tires stuck in a bog and spinning uselessly within a few minutes.

Whether you ended up in that bog on purpose, for sport, or accidentally during an off-road journey, mud tires play a critical role in making sure your vehicle doesn’t get irretrievably stuck in the middle of nowhere.

Types of mud tires

There are many variations in the designs of mud tires, which have evolved over the past couple decades to meet the needs of off-roaders. For example, many off-roaders drive their off-road vehicle from home to a mud-bogging (or muddin’) course using highways or municipal streets. Others transport their vehicles to off-roading courses on a trailer, which prolongs the life of the tires.

  • Mud terrain: These tires are designed almost exclusively for driving in mud and aren’t legal for street use. The tires have very aggressive treads, side biters, and extra reinforcement on the sidewalls and tread sections.

  • Hybrid mud/terrain: These mixed-use off-roading tires differ from all-terrain tires in that the treads are more widely spaced and function like the big lugs of mud-terrain tires yet run more smoothly in other off-road situations like dirt, sand, or gravel. Many of today’s hybrid tires are designed to run more quietly on paved roads, too.

  • Hybrid mud/snow: A class of hybrid mud tire developed for complicated off-roading environments like mud and snow. The rubber on these tires remains flexible in cold temperatures below 45°F. Some mud/snow tires have studded treads to bite into ice and thick mud.

Price: Mud tires range in price from $140 to $460 each.

Mud tire drawbacks

When not in their natural element, mud tires aren’t the most pleasant to drive on, and it can even be dangerous to drive on paved roads with mud tires.

  • Rubber lugs slap the pavement, making them quite loud on paved roads. Many drivers describe the sound as a “howl” that’s loud enough to be heard by people a quarter of a mile away or more.

  • Other than hybrids, mud tires don’t have as much traction on ice or sand.

  • Mud tires are larger and heavier than road tires, affecting driving performance on pavement and lowering gas mileage.

  • Some mud tires and wheel configurations are not street legal. Buyers must check their local laws and talk to a tire specialist about whether the tires they plan to buy can be driven on public roads.

Mud tire features to consider


Most off-road and mud tires use bias-ply construction rather than the radial construction commonly used in all-terrain tires. Bias-ply tires are more flexible than radials and give better traction in off-road conditions.


Large, wide rubber treads, much more widely spaced than on off-road or road tires, dig in and grip the terrain to provide plenty of traction even in a swampy situation.


Mud tires should have sturdy, reinforced sidewalls – at least three-ply – to prevent punctures from sharp rocks or ruptures due to stress. A lug pattern (biters) on the sidewall of the mud tire provides additional grip, especially when climbing out of deep, muddy wallows or along ledges and shelves. These lugs can also protect the sidewall from being punctured by sharp rocks.


A flat tire can be a real drag, so you want treads that resist punctures. A six-ply tread is the minimum thickness for a mud tire. Some of the thickest tires advertise eight- or ten-ply treads. Also, the aggressive, deep tread patterns on mud tires are designed to not only prevent mud from caking the tire but also to fling away water, rocks, and other debris that can cause traction problems. Many mud tires are made of softer rubber to grip better in slippery situations, but it tends to wear down more quickly. If you plan to drive the vehicle on pavement, look for tires with stiffer rubber and enough reinforcement in the tread materials to slow down the wear caused by time spent on paved roads.

"Bigger tire sidewalls help extend the life of the mud tire. Look for a sidewall that is six to seven inches high in order to absorb big hits when off-roading."


  • Check the load range. A tire’s load range – how much weight it can safely carry, including the weight of the vehicle – is marked on the sidewall of mud tires. Higher load ratings generally mean a sturdier tire, but it might not perform as well in muddy situations as a tire with a lower load rating.

  • Follow recommended inflation levels. Be cautious about underinflating mud tires in a quest for better traction. Tires have a longer life when maintained at the recommended inflation levels. Inexperienced off-roaders could have trouble controlling a vehicle with dramatically underinflated tires.

  • Practice proper tire maintenance. Frequent off-roaders know this, but tires might need to be rebalanced after a few sessions in mucky, rocky, or complicated terrain or tire performance and traction may suffer. Double-check tire alignment, balance, and inflation before each adventure.
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“Siping” is a tread feature in all-terrain tires that improves traction on slick surfaces and roads. Some mud tires, such as hybrids, have siping and others do not.


Q. I hear that lowering the air pressure in a mud tire will give it better traction. How low can the pressure go?

A. Off-road enthusiasts frequently talk about “airing the tires down” so that the contact tread (the portion of the tire making contact with the terrain) spreads out more, providing extra grip. Approach this tactic with caution. If using a standard street-legal wheel, taking too much air out of the tire could cause it to slip off the rim – usually at the most inconvenient time. Beadlock wheels are available that clamp the mud tire into place so it won’t slip off at lower pressures. Operating at low pressure can dramatically shorten the life of the tire, so do some research ahead of your trek and talk to off-roaders with plenty of experience running at various tire pressures. That said, bringing the pressure down to 18 to 20 psi should be enough for most situations.

Q. I always hose the mud off my vehicle after an off-road session, but I have trouble reaching the tires and underside of the vehicle. Should I just not worry about it?

A. Cleaning mud from the body, tire treads, and wheels is a great way to prevent rust and rot from affecting the tires and the rest of the vehicle. The undercarriage needs to be cleaned as well as possible. One recommendation: place a lawn sprinkler underneath the vehicle and turn it on, shifting it from spot to spot in order to reach the undercarriage and back of the wheels.

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