The Different Types of Tires
All Terrain Tires
All Terrain tires or (AT) are the best of both worlds. All Terrains offer good performance on the road as well as off. They perform great on rough terrain, like rocks and sand. AT tires are decent in the mud, as far as traction, but handle best on paved roads. The tread pattern on All Terrain Tires is closer than most mud tires. As a result, when you are driving down the street they will be a much quieter ride than mud tires. On the other hand, compared to a basic ply tire, All Terrains are louder. The downside to some AT tires is that mud tends to fill the tread, making traction "slippery". There are some AT tires that perform well in the mud. The use of AT tires is a popular choice for people who drive their 4x4s on paved roads daily, and seldom go off-road.
Mud or MT (Mud Terrain) Tires are specifically designed to get the best traction in the mud. The tread is spaced far enough to grab onto things that would be a problem for other tires. Mud, terrain with loose gravel, rocks and snow are no match for MT tires. One negative attribute of the MT tires is that they not recommended for highway driving, especially in the rain or icy conditions. Another downside to MT Tires is that they usually wear quicker than All Terrain and even Radial Tires. This is because of the tread design and the softer materials in the tire. Also, on paved roads, the noise is considerable.
A Bias-ply tire is made of multiple, rubber-coated layers, known as plies, consisting of textile cords. These textile cords are usually nylon but may sometimes be Kevlar.
The sidewalls on this type of tire bends under load, as the tread squeezes and twists. This distortion can decrease traction and increase wear, depending on the terrain. This distortion also causes abrasion from the ground, thus reducing the life of the tire.
To increase the strength of bias-ply tires, you must increase the number of plies and bead wires. However, the more plies and beads added, the more the tires weighs, thus increasing heat retention and reducing life of the tire.
Radial tires are constructed with rubber coated, reinforcing steel cable belts. These tires' construction makes them more flexible, which reduces rolling resistance to improve fuel economy.
Radial tires are preferred in most applications for many reasons:
The steel stabilizing belts in the radial casing allow the tread and sidewall to act independently. The sidewall flexes more easily under the weight of the vehicle, while the tread provides even contact with the ground. Also, the flexibility of the tire increases resistance to punctures.
Larger steel cables are used to increase strength in Radial tires. These cables can help reduce punctures, tears and flats. They also help to distribute heat, resulting in a cooler running tire and improved fuel economy.
When driving off-road, the steel belt design of the Radial tire helps to increase traction by holding the tread evenly over obstacles. This gives the tread of the tire a better chance of finding traction.