Mud tires are a type of auto tire that are used especially for traversing muddy surfaces. Sometimes called mud-terrain tires, these tires are made with special features to enhance their treading capabilities. They can be fitted to many types of vehicles but are most commonly seen as truck tires or all terrain vehicle (ATV) tires.
The chief characteristic of mud tires is their large, altered tread pattern. The tread on a tire is the caterpillar track design that allows a tire to go through the rain, mud or any other element without losing grip on the ground. The tread on a tire is often carved in straight or jagged lines, and goes many inches or centimeters deep.
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On a mud tire, the tread is much deeper than standard tires. The tread on these tires is most commonly seen in chunked or blocked patters, to help the tires withstand and hold more mud. They are designed to dig into these difficult surfaces, and clear more quickly, allowing for more mud to go in and then out.
As a type of vehicle tire they are most often seen on four-wheel drive trucks or specialized vehicles. Though commercial vehicles are not usually sold with mud tires, they can be added as an option aftermarket, or customized. They are common on racing and off-roading vehicles, and come specially equipped on most military vehicles. Mud tires are often too large for standard sedan-sized cars, and so are rarely seen on them, unless the car has been altered or lifted significantly.
Mud tires on many vehicles can be seen with mud flaps, which are tough rubber panels that hang from the car beside the tires. Because of the mud moved in and out of the tires, whether they are stuck and spinning or in regular motion, the areas of the car surrounding the tire tend to get very muddy. The mud flap helps to absorb the mud from the tires, and keeps the rest of the car from getting clogged, including the inside of the wheel wells.
Because of their blocky composition, mud tires may not fare well on regular flat or dry road. They often do not provide the type of balance or stability necessary for fast driving on stable surfaces because of the large tread openings. With less tire surface, they provide less traction on flat or highway roads, and can cause loud noises due to the irregular surfaces hitting the ground and the air whistling through the tires.