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When it comes to buying tires for your Jeep Wrangler, you certainly have options. Today, we’re going to take a closer look at one specific option, and one of your better ones—mud tires, a set of wheels designed for grabbing the ground and conquering murky, unpredictable surfaces. If you’re a burgeoning off-roader who plans to hit some state and national forests this fall, here’s what you should know about mud tires for Jeeps, why you’ll need them, and what to keep in mind.
What Makes a Tire a Mud Tire?
The defining characteristic of a mud tire is its deep tread pattern—deeper than any others. The deeper the grooves, the better the traction, and traction is exactly what you want when it comes to getting through mud. These seem tough, but mud tires also have a soft side—they’re soft all over, as a matter of fact. Mud tires use a softer formulation of vulcanized rubber than tires meant for pavement. This softness gives the tires a little more grip on rough or unpredictable surfaces than harder and more rigid rubber for highway driving. Be warned, though, that smooth but hard concrete and asphalt will wear down this softer rubber faster—especially at high speeds.
Good for More Than Mud
There are several kinds of tire constructions for varying terrains. Sand tires are arguably the most specialized form you can find. Those deep treads in mud tires, however, make them ideal for more than just muddy conditions. If you’re taking to rocky terrains such as mountains or desert scrub, your mud tires will suit you just as well on these surfaces as they would in the treacherous traps of waterlogged earth—especially if it’s raining as you drive. If you encounter gravel roads, the treads will grab this loose surface and give you the traction you need to get through. If you’re going to commit to a type of tire for various excursions, mud tires are probably your best bet.
What’s the Downside?
The more versatile mud tires can be ideal for other surfaces as well, but they’re not the perfect fit for what’s probably your most common surface: the highway. Part of what you should know about mud tires for Jeeps is that the same characteristics that make them great for mud, dirt, and gravel—those deep treads and big tread blocks—also make them quite noisy on that relatively smoother pavement. If you’re not about to swap out your tires every time you have an adventure planned, the noise is something you can live with. Just make sure you have a car stereo that can drown out the rumble beneath you. Got anything with a good bassline?