4wd Tyres are one of the biggest investments made on a 4x4 vehicle. Picking the wrong tyre for your truck might result in uncomfortable and noisy on-road travel, getting stuck in that next mud hole, or terrible sand driving performance. You need to carefully pick the right tyre for your off road vehicle for the type of terrain you plan on travelling. Here's a rough guide to different tyre types:
(H/T) Highway Terrain = 90% Road & 10% Off-Road
(A/T) All Terrain = 60% Road & 40% Off-Road
(M/T) Mud Terrain = 15% Road & 85% Off-Road
These three types of tyre will perform perfectly well in most off road situations. A vehicle with correct tyre pressure and a reasonably proficient driver will be able to negotiate nearly all off-road situations. There are acceptions to this rule but for the most part this is true. Chances are if you've got a good driver behind the wheel, you're going to be able to make it through the toughest of tracks.
In saying that, if you never took the 4x4 off-road you would probably stick with a Highway tyre and gain a small increase in comfort and wet weather performance. This is a good idea for the soccer mums taking the kids to school. Likewise if the majority of our time was spent trailering the car to traction competitions or hill climbs you would go with the Mud terrain tyre for its outright off road performance.
All terrain tyres are the best compromise between on road comfort and off road performance. Dirt can build up quickly in Highway tread and lose a bit of grip off-road, where Mud Terrain tyres can be noisy and fling rocks up, breaking mirrors etc. A/T’s are sturdy, run nicely on the highway and provide decent grip off-road.
One other type of tyre often overlooked are light truck tyres which are made to take plenty of weight, generally offer fairly deep and open tread patterns, sturdy sidewalls and their durability can offer great bang for your buck. Sorry, no raised white lettering on the sidewalls.
For the generally on-road SUV or 4x4 vehicle, High Performance road tyres are the choice of many. This is often what comes as standard on your 4wd. It is a high performance truck tyre that combines ride comfort with all season traction. This type of tyre is not accepted by most as a good off-road tyre as it lacks the qualities of good off road tyres such as tread depth and tyre thickness.
As mentioned above, all terrain tyres are the best compromise between on road performance and off road ability. They have a decent ability to clear mud from the treads and therefore are able to gain traction where a highway terrain tyre will not. They also have the strength that comes with an off road tyre and will resist punctures from sticks and rocks.
Mud terrain tyres are for the serious 4wd owner who wants a tyre with the grip and puncture resistance to drive the most serious of off road terrain. They are often specifically constructed and designed to offer great off road characteristics such as clearing of the tread pattern in thick mud conditions and the ability to withstand punctures.