how long tires last

Do All-terrain Tires Affect Gas Mileage? (explained)

Did you know that choosing the right tires can help your fuel economy? 

The type of tread on your tire has a definite effect on gas mileage; so if you’re thinking of getting a set of all-terrain tires, you also need to consider how they’ll change the way you drive and, most especially, how gas mileage and what you pay at the pump will be affected.

What Are All-Terrain Tires?

Tires are specially designed to serve different specific purposes. Some tires are made of soft materials while some are made of hard materials. 

Some are with a light tread pattern that tends to stick to the road and provide a better grip but lacks traction while some are with a deep and hard tread pattern that gives enough traction.

The tread pattern usually determines where a tire is best used i.e. the tread pattern determines whether a tire is for highway driving, dry pavement, wet pavement, snow, all-season, and all-terrain.

All-terrain tires are tires with a tread pattern that provides an extra grip in the deep snow, gravel, and even sandy beaches. They also provide a smooth drive on pavements. All-terrain tires are specially designed for all-weather capability and some off-road adventures.

In a nutshell, all-terrain tires are specially designed to have a high level of traction on all types of roads and surfaces. All-terrain tires have a combination of open treads designed for both off-roading and handling on paved streets. All-terrain tires are ideal for four-wheel-drive vehicles, SUVs, pickup trucks, and light trucks

Do All-Terrain Tires Affect Gas Mileage?

With that being said, does an all-terrain tire waste more gas compared to other tires? The short answer is yes. While all-terrain tires won’t kill your gas mileage, they will waste just a small drop of about a gallon or two.

All-terrain tires would decrease your gas mileage by about 3% when compared to standard tires. This small drop in mileage shouldn’t discourage you from getting all-terrains tires because there are lots of other benefits that the all-terrain tires provide to make up for this decrease in gas mileage.

How Do All-Terrain Tires Affect Gas Mileage?

All-terrain tires use a lower pressure so they can give you more contact surface with the terrain. Adding pressure to all-terrain tires reduces their contact surface with the roadway. This, thereby, reduces overall friction and increases fuel consumption. Reducing the overall friction will not only lower gas mileage but also hampers performance.

What Are the Benefits of All-Terrain Tires?

Here are some of the benefits that you will enjoy when you use all-terrain tires for your vehicle:

  • Open-Tread Pattern: All-terrain tires have open-tread patterns. These patterns make all-terrain tires so effective on off-road surfaces. The open-tread pattern comes in versatile interlocking tread elements, which provide excellent grip on mud, rocks, and paved roads.
  • Year-Round Operability: All-terrain tires are designed to handle tough conditions both on off-roads and pavement. They provide excellent traction in ice and snow, as well as on hot and rainy roads – although winter and summer tires still have their advantages in the respective conditions.
  • Reinforced Walls: Many all-terrain tires have reinforced sidewalls, which help to increase the load-carrying capacity of the tires in various road conditions. This feature makes all-terrain tires ideal for heavier vehicles that see more off-road use.

What Are the Drawbacks of All-Terrain Tires?

Despite their amazing benefits, all-terrain tires have their drawbacks, which include the following:

  • Loud Noise: Because all-terrain tires are built with a tread design that is meant to maximize traction, they tend to make a much louder noise than tires built for paved roads. Typically, all-terrain tires have symmetrical grooves that make the air passing through them give off a louder noise, especially on highways and touring streets.
  • Shorter Tread Life: All-terrain tires are made with softer rubber that can be manipulated to provide adequate performance on different road surfaces. Unfortunately, the side effect is that the tread wears out quicker than other tire types.
  • Poor Fuel Economy: All-terrain tires have poor fuel economy when compared with other types of tires. This is because all-terrain tires are designed for maximum traction, which in turn, decreases fuel efficiency. However, all-terrain tires are meant for both on and off-road driving, so they give better mileage than tires strictly made for off-roading.

Difference Between All-Terrain and Highway Tires?

The main difference between all-terrain tires and highway tires (street tires) is that all-terrain tires are designed to grip a variety of roads and surfaces, as well as off-road conditions. Due to this feature, drivers may forfeit a quiet ride and some fuel economy with all-terrain tires.

On the other hand, highway tires are designed for smooth rides, fuel efficiency, and longer tread life.

How Long Do All-Terrain Tires Last?

On average, all-terrain tires should last between 20,000 to 40,000 miles. Obviously, this is only an estimated range, and there are lots of factors that go into how long your all-terrain tires will last.

How long all-terrain tires will last depends largely on how frequently you drive and your driving habit – how rough you’re on wheels. The weight of your vehicle, the cargo, and/or what you’re towing, will also affect how long your tires would last.

Note that you would get more wear from off-road driving than from on-road driving. All-terrain tires that are used more conservatively would also last longer. Generally, all-terrain tires tend to have a shorter lifespan compared to highway tires because of their high treadwear rating.


Choosing tires for your vehicle is not an easy task. The first and most important thing to do before choosing tires is to have a basic understanding of your driving needs and which tires will work better than others in certain situations.

This understanding will not only improve your vehicle’s performance but also save you money and frustration in the long run.

Another thing to keep in mind is that all-terrain tires are meant for multiple purposes. So, if you only drive on paved roads and highways, all-terrain tires are not a good option for you.

But if you drive your vehicle off-road, you’ll certainly need all-terrain tires. All-terrain tires are made for smooth driving on the highway (street) with enough grip for harsh landscapes like ice, snow, gravel, and beaches.