How to Choose New ATV Tires

Choosing the best tires for your all terrain vehicle is sometimes difficult, especially if you ride your quad on a variety of different terrain. Most ATVs come with general purpose tires when you first purchase them, but there are also several other types of tires available that are designed specifically for certain uses. Specialized ATV tires include trail tires, snow tires, paddle tires, and mud tires.  Also, after reading this informative article on how to choose new ATV tires, read our atv tire buying guide.

Choosing the Proper Tire Design for your ATV

Trail Tires

Trail tires, which are also referred to as “all-terrain tires,” are capable of handling a variety of different terrain with a decent amount of traction on each. Though these tires offer traction on all types of terrain, they do not excel on any specific terrain and they are not designed for use in deep water, sand, or mud. Trail tires are made of harder rubber than general purpose tires, so they are usually a bit more expensive.

Trail tires are more stable than most other tires, and they have a longer tread life than other tires as well. If you intend to ride your ATV on a variety of dry terrain with only limited exposure to sand and mud, trail tires are a good choice.

Snow Tires

Snow tires are considerably different from other types of ATV tires. While other ATV tires have vertical treads running around their perimeters, snow tires have horizontal treads that resemble snow chains. This allows the tires to dig into the snow instead of just spinning. In addition, snow tires are made from much softer rubber than other ATV tires, which also prevents the tires from spinning in the wet snow.

Snow tires are an ideal choice if you live in a cold climate with a lot of precipitation. If you live in an area that receives snow during only part of the year, you can use snow tires during the winter and switch to a different tire design for the rest of the year.

Paddle Tires

A paddle tire is a specialized tire that includes only a few large treads, thus causing it to resemble a large balloon with paddles attached. Paddle tires are ideal for use in sand, but they are not effective on most other types of terrain. In fact, running a paddle tire on the highway or on a trail may damage it irreparably.

If you use your ATV exclusively on sand, such as on a beach, paddle tires are a good choice. However, if you frequently run on other types of terrain, you should choose a different type of tire for your quad.

Mud Tires

Mud tires are ideal for off-roading. The tread on a mud tire is irregularly spaced and includes wider gaps than other types of ATV tires. This design allows the tire to grip moist soil and mud more efficiently so that the tires do not spin. Though mud tires are very useful for off-roading, they are not designed for use on highways or roads, especially if you tend to travel at high speeds.

If you frequently go off-roading with your ATV, mud tires are the best possible choice. However, do not purchase mud tires if you intend to ride on the highway a lot. If you must use mud tires on the road, try to travel at lower speeds whenever possible.

Choosing a Tire Size

When you replace the tires on your ATV, you should try to choose a tire that is as close to the manufacturer’s recommended width and height as possible. Manufacturers determine these dimensions through in-depth research, so using the recommended tire size will ensure that your ATV handles as the manufacturer intended.


If you decide to change tire diameters, the change will affect your quad’s performance. For example, choosing a tire with a larger or smaller diameter will put stress on your ATV’s axles and engine transmission. Tires with diameters larger than what is recommended will also decrease braking efficiency and cause your ATV’s engine to overheat.


Some ATV experts recommend using wider or narrower tires for certain terrain. For example, wide tires may offer better traction in sand and snow, while narrow tires are sometimes better for sinking into mud and gripping the harder land beneath. However, using a tire with a wider or narrower width than recommended may also put unnecessary stress on your vehicle.


The prices of ATV tires vary considerably. Some of the most basic tires cost only $30 each, while a specialized tire may cost upwards of $150. The exact price of the tire depends on its design, size, and brand name. Before you begin tire shopping, determine your maximum budget and the type of tires you wish to purchase. Compare tires from several different brands before making your final decision.

The Bottom Line

Choosing the wrong set of tires for your ATV can ruin your fuel economy, decrease your vehicle’s performance, and even cause damage to your ATV. Though selecting a new set of tires for your ATV is sometimes complicated and confusing, you can make the right choice if you know what to look for. Consider how you will use your ATV most often, the manufacturer’s recommendations for tire size, and your available budget, and you will be able to determine which tires are best for your vehicle.

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