Do All-Terrain Tires Wear Faster?

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All-terrain tires are designed for a lot of different terrains, including some harsh ones which require durability, so their construction is heavier. And that’s why these tires face high rolling resistance on pavements, which burns their tread faster. But this is just one of the factors. Let’s me get to the rest.

All-Terrain Tires Wear Faster
Nitto Terra Grappler tread wear condition after 20k miles.

All-terrain tires comes in a lot of different shapes and sizes, and although there are some which are very streamlined for on-road use, and give out amazing tread life, they still burn off faster comapred to on-road tires. That’s because their numerous biters and cut resistant rubber get to create much more friction compared to say all-season tires.

Factors Affecting Tread Life

Tread wear of the tire gets affected by a lot of factors, And I have discussed some of the most important ones below. They make it easier to understand why some all-terrain tires wear so fast while others still manage to give out amazing longevity.

Inner Construction

All-terrain tires need to be tough to survive off-road terrains. That’s why they are given with at least 2 ply polyester casing, 2 steel belts and a reinforcing nylon cap ply combined with thick rubber skin on top.

But all these also increase the tire’s weight, which then indirectly causes a rise in rolling resistance, as the tread blocks rub off the road with more force, promoting faster wear.

Note how I said it’s the minimum number of plies you see, if I talk about maximum, you can consider BF Goodrich KO2, and that tires has 3 ply polyester carcass and 2 cap plies (spirally wound) nylon.

Review this tire here:

Tread Structure

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 not only faster fuel usage, but also wear.

Moreover, on most all-terrain tires (especially aggressive ones), with larger tread depth the lugs are left unsupported, which flex more as the tire rolls, causing heat and affecting tread life negatively.

Though with larger tread depth and supporting ridges in some designs, the tread wear is minimized by a lot.

But still all-terrain tires, are not as streamlined compared to passenger/on-road tires, and even with supporting ridges, reinforced foundational supports and continuous running ribs, they get to show faster wear sill.

Rubber Composition

The rubber compound of the tire also tells a lot about wear. Some tires have higher Kevlar polymers in their composition and they fight off the wear, while others have malleable structure, having high silica density and these are the ones more susceptible to faster wear.

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).

Moreover, the softer tread also have the properties of “sticking”, and this adds to the rolling resistance, which also works against the tread life.

Which all-terrain tires last the longest?

I’ve reviewed almost all of these A/T tires here, and out of them, the best results in terms of tread wear came form General Grabber A/TX.

Detailed Review:

So why is that?

Well, because the tire has a harder rubber compound which is quite stiff, and so even with wider tread voids, it’s not that susceptible to wear.

It basically includes powerful Kevlar polymers in it’s composition which not only keeps it rigid but also elastic, so you get the best of both words.

The tire also provides a very nice tread structure having consistent throughout (with 3 interlocking central ribs). All these ensures that the weight of the tire gets distributed evenly across all lugs.

Furthermore, combined with that, the General Grabber ATX gets to provide 16/32″ of tread depth which takes longer to wear.

For Your Info: The lower load range sizes even do better as they generate less heat in the tread, minimizing damage. Also as the Grabbers get balanced very good, this further aids to it’s even wear.

How to increase tread life on all-terrain tires?

So by now you know why do all-terrain tires wear faster than on-road oriented ones. But do you know with proper habits, you can actually increase the tread life to optimal levels? Let’s check out how!

Driving Habits

All-terrain tires have limited speed ratings, which means they start generating more heat early on, before reaching the limit.

And with more generation of heat, the already malleable lugs of the tread gets even more flexible and start wearing off quicker.

That’s why it’s recommended to keep a lighter foot on the pedal. Moreover, taking turns slowly and not braking aggressive can avoid your tires to get many various kinds of tread wear patterns, where the only solution is changing the tire.

And since you can’t just replace a single tire, you have to replace all 4 of them.

Road Conditions

All-terrain tires are designed to handle a variety of road surfaces, but they will wear faster on paved roads compared to say, on dirt or gravel.

That’s because their haphazardly place lugs all over the tread, are less streamlined towards smoother tracks, and give out better efficacy when on rougher terrains (with cut resistant rubber top).

Tire Pressure

Higher the pressure, lower the rolling resistance. And better the tread life.

That’s why under-inflated tires can cause excessive wear (especially on the edges), as they have more tread surface area rubbing with the road, as they roll.

But having said that, it’s also not wise to over-inflate your tires as that causes performance issues (they get slippery on wet roads, and all-terrain tires aren’t good to begin with there).

So what to do here? Well, first thing is that you should know what pressure PSI, are your tires rated to run at. And then you can go up with almost 4 to 6 PSI safely over that.

(Though keep in mind that, if you are planing to run your tires in summer, chances are they are already going to increase their pressure).


Improper alignment can cause uneven wear on the tires, as when tires are not at a straight, perpendicular angle with the road, they are not able to roll smoothly and cause uneven pressure on the other tires.

This causes an uneven wear on all of the tires.

Make sure you get your all-terrain tires aligned after every rotation.


Rotating is swapping your tires fro one axle to another.

Mostly all-terrain tires are equipped on Rear Wheel Drive vehicles (RWD). So that would mean, that the tires on the rear axle would wear faster than those up front (as they are in charge of propelling the other tires, and have heavier weight sitting on top).

And swapping them would close up the tread depth difference between them.

So it’s recommended that you rotate your all-terrain tires after every 4k miles religiously (like you get your engine oil changed). Also make sure you check your tread depth at least once every month. You can even do this with a penny.

This would allow you to use your all 4 tires to a maximum, and not just 2 rear tires, instead


Compared to on-road options, all-terrain tires would always wear a little faster, because they have more weight, a comparatively malleable lugs composition, and aggressive biters (generally speaking). All these contribute to rolling resistance, which then burns these tires faster.

Though there are still some tires that do great and out of them, one of the top ranking ones in General Grabber A/TX.

But not matter what all-terrain tire you have, (or planning to get), you can always increase the tread life, by keeping in mind the road condition’s I discussed, keeping optimal pressure and ensuring alignment and rotation is done right.

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