All-Terrain vs. All-Season Tires: What’s Right for You?

02 Nov.,2022


All Terrain Tires

All-season and all-terrain tires may seem similar, but they serve different purposes—all-season tires are generalist tires meant for multiple weather conditions, whereas all-terrain tires are meant for frequent off-roading and extreme conditions. Knowing your driving needs can help you decide which type of tire is best suited for you. 

Your tires are a critical (and oft-overlooked) component of your car—so it’s important to get ones that suit your needs. But with so many options and types, it’s not always easy knowing what the right choice is—or even what the differences are. 

All-season tires and all-terrain tires are two particular types of tires that often come into comparison. How are they different, what are they good for, and how do you know which ones you need?

To help answer all your questions, Jerry , the super app that helps you save on car insurance , has created this simple guide covering all the basics of both all-terrain and all-season tires. Read on to learn what makes each tire different, and how you can determine the right kind for your vehicle.


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What's the difference between all-season and all-terrain tires?

They may sound similar, but all-terrain and all-season tires have major differences when it comes to road performance.

All-season tires are generalist tires made to withstand a variety of everyday driving conditions, including more standard weather events and driving on backroads or dirt roads. Because their intended purpose is to perform in normal driving conditions, all-season tires are generally the industry standard

Conversely, all-terrain tires are specialized for situations not typically encountered under normal driving conditions. If you’re an avid off-roader or regularly transport large loads, all-terrain tires can improve your traction and perform better in extreme conditions.

Vehicles that come readily equipped with all-terrain tires tend to also bundle in other off-road benefits to help fulfill more specialized driving purposes. 

Let's take a closer look at the differences between the two in some key categories.


Your tire’s tread helps maintain traction while driving—so the tread pattern of your tire matters depending on the kind of driving you're doing.


All-season tires have a shallower tread than all-terrain tires, making them most suitable for on-road driving. 

Their shallower tread channels decrease road noise (and increase driving comfort) while still doing the work of maintaining traction in weather events like rain or light snowstorms. As long as you’re maintaining your tires properly, all-season tires should outlast all-terrain ones, so you’ll spend less on tire changes throughout the span of your car’s lifetime. 


All-terrain tires have a wider and deeper tread to help them better absorb impact and hold traction in extreme off-road or weather conditions. 

The downside, however, is that all-terrain tires tend to make more noise on the road, especially if you’re driving on paved surfaces, negatively impacting driving comfort.

Fuel economy 

Your car uses fuel to keep your tires rolling, and the amount of fuel it takes depends on the characteristics of your tires—tread pattern, tire size, and the materials they’re made of can all impact how much fuel it takes to turn your wheels. 


All-season tires can save you money where fuel’s concerned. The shallower tread pattern, smaller size, and rubber compounds characteristic of all-season tires make them more fuel-efficient on normal cars than all-terrain tires. 


All-terrain tires are bigger and blockier and cover a wider surface area when in contact with the road. As a result, it takes more fuel to keep them rolling, which means they’re somewhat less fuel-efficient than all-season tires. 



All-season tires tend to be cheaper as they’re industry standard for most cars, vans, SUVs, and trucks, and are made to perform under average driving conditions. 

Starting costs for all-season tires are at least $40 to $50 cheaper than starting costs for all-terrain tires. 


The starting costs of all-terrain tires are pricier than all-season tires—even the cheapest all-terrain tires average a $100 price tag. Plus, if you’re adding all-terrain tires to a car that originally came equipped without them, you may have to pay extra for car modifications or adjustments to get the tires to fit. 

Additionally, although all-terrain tires are meant to perform on all types of terrain, they’re best suited to more extreme road conditions, which means they’re likely to wear out faster than all-season tires. This is especially true if you’re driving on regular roads often. 

Consequently, you’ll have to change or replace all-terrain tires more often in comparison to all-season ones. 

MORE: How to put snow chains on tires

Pros and cons of all-season and all-terrain tires

To make things clearer, we’ve summed up all the pros and cons of all-season vs. all-terrain tires in the table below:

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How to choose the right tires for you

If you’re not sure which tires will best suit you, you can ask yourself a couple of questions before making your decision. 

Are the tires manufacturer-approved for your vehicle? 

Since all-season tires are generally the industry standard for most vehicles, certain cars—particularly smaller models—can’t be fitted with bulky all-terrain tires. It’s important to consider your specific vehicle and what it can handle when making your decision. 

If you know you’ll be using your car for off-roading excursions or heavy transportation, it may be better to purchase a vehicle that comes pre-equipped with all-terrain tires right from the dealership. 

Where do you drive on a typical day? 

Part of figuring out what kind of tires are right for you includes considering your driving needs. 

Asking questions like where do I typically drive in a day? or what am I using my car for most of the time? can help make clearer your specific driving needs, so you can choose the tires that will perform best in those situations. 

What’s your budget? 

Upgrading your car’s tires from all-season to all-terrain can be costly, especially if you own a smaller car. Determining your budget and what you’re willing to spend on your car beforehand can help make the decision easier. 

How to find affordable car insurance

Deciding which tires are right for your car can feel almost as difficult as deciding on a car insurance provider—and with all the options available out there, it can be tempting just to pick one and go with it! When it comes to car insurance, at least, Jerry can help make shopping a lot simpler.

As an insurance comparison and broker app, Jerry lets you easily compare quotes from top brand-name providers side-by-side, all in seconds! Just download the app, answer a handful of questions, and let Jerry do the hard work of finding you cheap and affordable quotes

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