Do All-Terrain Tires Get Worse Gas Mileage?

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All-terrain tires generate more rolling resistance compared to on-road tires as with aggressive tread pattern, the engine has to work harder to martian the same speed, resulting in more fuel consumption. Though there are tires which are not so bad after all and that’s because they have some features helping them. Let’s talk about them all.

All-Terrain Tire Fuel Usage

All-Terrain include a lot of different tires in the category, and some of them are more on-road oriented are able to provide better fuel efficiency as they get to be lighter in weight and have a more streamlined design allowing them to have speed ratings up to H, and lower rolling resistance values. So these tires consume less fuel compared to aggressive options. Though compared to passenger tires, they are still lacking.

Factors affecting fuel economy

There are a lot of things that affect the overall fuel consumption of these all-terrain tires. And I’ve talked about them all in detail one by one. Let’s start with the most common one.


In order to survive on challenging paths, all-terrain tires need powerful inner construction. That’s why they come with a minimum of 2 ply polyester, and 2 steel belts on top reinforced with nylon cap plies.

And sure with that they get to have the durability and ability to encounter tougher tracks, they also increase the tire’s weight, which then indirectly causes a rise in rolling resistance.

This happens because the lugs get to bear more pressure and they rub off the surface (they are on) with more force. So not only they consume more fuel that way, they also burn out faster as well (though that also depends on tread composition).

Tread Pattern

Tread design of all-terrain tires contain wider grooves and sharp biters everywhere.

With wider tread voids, the lugs get to bear more pressure on them, as the weight of the tire is divided upon smaller tread’s surface area. And so this adds to the force of the tread rubbing off the road causing faster wear.

And with more number of biters, the overall fiction with the road is enhanced.

Basically on-road tires are very streamlined to move on smoother pavements, they have longitudinal grooves making a very directional design, whereas on all-terrain tries, the haphazard placement of lugs, causes the friction to go up which not only generated more heat at higher speeds, but also increases rolling resistance and with it fuel consumption.

That’s why all-terrain tires are only rated up to H (most of the time) in terms of speed ratings, whereas on-road tires go all the way.

Tread Depth

As the tread depth increases, the overall fuel consumption decreases. That’s because with larger tread voids, lugs have more freedom to move and flex, and this wastes energy.

Instead of rolling or turning as a whole, each lug wastes energy by flexing upon themselves, consuming extra fuel. That’s why tires having smaller tread depth provide better efficacy.

It’s also interesting to note that as the tire wears down, it’s fuel efficiency improves a little bit but only to a certain point.

As with further wear, not only fuel economy goes down but also the overall traction capabilities as well.

That’s why tires having a tread depth of 2/32″ (left, with wear) would take almost twice as long to stop on wet pavements compared to a new tire with full tread depth.

Rubber Composition

All-Terrain tires need to keep their rubber softer, so that they can flex properly off-road and provide the necessary lateral and longitudinal traction (which is further enhanced sometimes by lowering the air pressure especially on sandy terrains).

But with a malleable tread, like I mentioned above, the lugs wastes energy in to flexing rather than moving the tire as a whole.

Moreover, you also get a sticky effect with these lugs having high silica density in them, as they don’t want to move off the surface too easy, because of their softer compound. In other words, you can say they stick more. And that’s directly increases the fuel usage.


High speeds can affect the fuel economy of all-terrain tires, but this happens in-directly. Let me explain how.

Basically all-terrain tires like I already mentioned are not graded too well, when it comes to speed ratings, so this means with higher speeds they get to generate more heat off the tread.

The heat makes the the already squishy compound of the tire softer even further, and this, combined with weight and tread depth make the tread lugs more susceptible to flex and bend, wasting energy further, that could have been consumed for rolling.

So yes overall, all factors point towards this one thing.

Most Fuel Efficient All-Terrain Tire

Now having discussed all of the factors above, I can now easily explain why the Firestone Destination AT2 is the most fuel efficient tire in the category of all-terrain.

Review it here:

The tire basically does not weigh too much, it only goes up to 45 lbs (as there are no LT sizes on this tire). And it’s tread depth is only 12/32″ on all its sizes, that’s almost the same as mostly seen on passenger tires. And with a continuous running 5 longitudinal ribs in the tread pattern, this tire makes a very streamlined design.

All these factors help it in becoming the most fuel efficient tire when compared to other all-terrain performers.

Though one thing to note that, as the tire focuses a lot on fuel economy, it’s on-road grip is not very impressive when you compare the tire with other similar on-road oriented A/T tires, yet you’d be amazed on wet roads for sure, no doubt.

In fact on wet pavements, this tire provides one of the best traction values and resistance to hydroplaning.

How to Improve Fuel Economy of All-Terrain Tires?

Besides getting the right tire, there are a few things you can ensure, and these will help you with the fuel consumption no doubt. I’ve discussed all of them below.

Maintaining proper tire pressure

Air pressure is a big one for fuel economy. Although it’s beneficial to run these all-terrain tires with lowered pressure off-roads, on pavements, they would consume a lot of fuel.

This is because for one, lowered air pressure increases the tread print with the road, and that directly increases rolling resistance, and two, there’s more rubbing which generates more heat and I’ve already discussed above how that’s bad for fuel as well.

So make sure you maintain the correct pressure in your tire.

But wait, if lower pressure decreases fuel economy, would increasing the pressure have an opposite result?

Well, yes, increasing pressure of the tire reduces rolling resistance, but you can’t over-inflate your tires too much, as that can affect the handling performance negatively. Though you can go 4/6 PSI more than recommended values. But consult with me first, so I can better guide you.

Also worth reminding, while checking pressure, make sure you measure the values with the tire too hot (this goes for summers).

For Your Info: If you run the tires with more air pressure, there is a chance you’d get this type of tread wear pattern.

Use a better size and rating

Make sure to get a right kind of size. For example if you need an all-terrain tires for driving on roads only, you can consider a less aggressive lighter tire, preferably the one with lower load index grading.

Similarly, the narrower the section width the better the fuel efficacy. So you can consider that as well.

And I’ve already talked about how tread depth is a major factor here, and tire sizes come with different depths, well expect for BF Goodrich KO2, that tire has 15/32″ of tread depth on all its sizes.

Limit unnecessary weight

It’s the obvious one. The less weight engine has to carry to less fuel gets burned. So remove any extra weight laying around in your truck.

It can help in a similar way, as using the lighter tire does.

Drive at a moderate speed

Since all-terrain tires have limited speed ratings, its best to keep them slow.

As higher speed create more friction and heat and that affects fuel usage in a negative way.

Consider Alignment, Balancing And Rotating

Alignment is the angle with which your tire sits with the road. If it’s angle is out, meaning it’s not perpendicular, it would cause uneven pressure on other tires.

Balancing on the other hand, ensures each tire has its weight evenly distributed as it rolls. An unbalanced tire would cause vibrations and with it uneven pressure on other tires.

And rotating tires is the procedure of swamping the tire on back and front axles with each other.

All these ensures less heat and rolling resistance gets generated so besides saving your tires from wearing faster, you spend less money on expensive fuel.

Avoid aggressive driving

I think its needless to say, but still just putting it out there.

All-terrain tires aren’t meant for faster speeds on roads, sharp turns, braking aggressively and so on. They are not sports tires, is what I’m trying to say.

All these things would help with fuel a lot but also with wear. See in do all-terrain tires wear faster?

Summing Up

When it comes to all-terrain tires, although you do have to compromise a little in the fuel efficiency department, compared to on-road tires, you can reduce the gap by choosing more on-road oriented design.

Some all-terrain tires are just more streamlined towards highways, and they don’t use as much of the fuel as the other aggressive options.

These tires include some great option, and out of them, the best for fuel is Firestone Destination A/T2.

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