Are Mud Tires Good in the Rain?

The tire market is a diverse one! There is, quite literally, a tire for every need. Mud-terrain tires, for example, are a fantastic tire choice for those looking to take on challenging off-road routes. However, if it were to unexpectedly start raining during your off-road journey with mud-terrain tires, how would you fare in those conditions?

While mud-terrain tires can handle the most extreme off-road trails, they are not adequate to use in rain or winter weather conditions. The reason for this comes down to the functionality of these tires. In order to support off-road conditions, these tires utilize bigger tread blocks. These tread blocks don’t allow the tire to expel water the way other tires do.

Just because mud-terrain tires can’t handle winter weather conditions that well doesn’t mean there aren’t other great advantages to these tires. However, it also doesn’t mean there aren’t some possibly better-suited alternative tires. In this article, we’ll look at all of this and more to help you make the right decision for your driving needs.

Different Tires in the Rain

When it comes down to your vehicle, your tires are one of the most crucial components. Sure, the engine allows your car to actually drive, but your tires are the only point of contact between your car and the road. Therefore, you want to ensure that your tires can handle the road conditions that you encounter in your day-to-day life.

When you think of unexpected rainfall, you may think of grabbing an umbrella on your way out of the house, but you wouldn’t think about quickly swapping out the tires on your car to handle that unexpected rain. Not too long ago, this was a reality for many drivers on the road.

The Goodyear Tire and Rubber company invented the first all-season tire, a tire adept at handling a wide variety of conditions on the road. This tire was publicly unveiled by Goodyear in 1977, named the Tiempo tire. Since then, all-season tires have become a staple for many drivers across the world.

In fact, a survey has been done regarding the perceived changes in overall weather by consumers. This survey found that 78% of those interviewed agreed that, in general, the seasons of the year have become more unpredictable over time.

More unpredictable weather means that tires need to be able to handle a diverse range of conditions on the road. This results in an increased demand for tires that can handle the unpredictable weather – in fact, nearly all cars are fitted with all-season tires right from the factory in this day and age.

However, just because all-season tires are the generally the standard tire that car’s come with doesn’t mean it’s your only tire option! From dedicated summer or winter tires to off-road and touring tires, there are many different tires available on the market today.

Seasonal tires, of course, are for those people living in regions with temperature extremes. These tires are pretty self-explanatory. Summer tires are for regions with warmer climates, while winter tires are for cold regions with harsher winter conditions.

The many variations of tires don’t end there! From touring tires for those who regularly drive long distances to off-road or all-terrain tires that are equipped to handle you both on and off the road, the list goes on!

However, when it comes down to these tires, some perform better than others when it comes to performance in rainy conditions. However, regardless of which type of tire your vehicle has, you’ll be able to tell if your tire is suited to driving in muddy conditions simply by looking at your tire!

Identifying Tires Approved for Muddy Conditions

If you were not already aware, there are certain markings on tires that indicate certain values and ratings. One such indicator on tires designed for muddy and snowy terrains is the use of the letters M and S, often some variation of both.

This indicator is rather straightforward. M, here, stands for ‘mud’ or ‘muddy’ and indicates the suitability of the tire for driving in muddy conditions. The S, on the other hand, stands for ‘snow’ or ‘snowy’ and indicates the suitability of the tires for driving in snowy or icy conditions.

When you see one or both of these letter symbols on your tire, then you’ll know that it’s suitable to use in the represented conditions. If you want to check your existing tires’ suitability to driving in these conditions, you can use this method.

Alternatively, if you’re looking for the best tires to handle driving in muddy and wet conditions, then keep reading. At the end of this article, we’ll look at some of the best tire options for your consideration. However, first, we’re going to look at the advantages and disadvantages of mud-terrain and all-terrain tires – including how they each perform in the rain.

Mud-Terrain vs. All-Terrain: Which Is Better in the Rain?

This is a twofold question because the answer varies depending on which roads that you’re planning on driving on with your mud-terrain tires. As these are uniquely designed tires for certain circumstances, so whether or not this type of tire is equipped for performance in the rain largely depends on where you plan on driving!

If you’re planning to drive on traditional roads paved with asphalt or concrete, you might have a hard time maneuvering your vehicle with mud-terrain tires. That is because these tires are designed to functionally operate in a certain environment.

In fact, using mud-terrain or off-road tires on your traditional type of road will lead to you shortening the lifespan of these tires. If you use them for their intended purpose, these tires will last you a long time – however, that’s partly due to the fact that these aren’t for everyday use.

If you’re looking for an adept tire that can handle a variety of conditions on a variety of surfaces, your best bet would be considering all-season or all-terrain tire options. When it comes down to off-road tires, they’re best kept off the road!

However, if you are, in fact seeking off-road tires for that exact purpose, and you’re wondering how these tires will perform in the rain, unfortunately, the answer isn’t the one you were looking for. There’s a reason for this, however, and it comes down to the functionality of these tires – let us explain.

Do you remember those Mud and Snow tire ratings we looked at earlier in this article? Plot twist: not all mud-terrain tires have those ratings. That might seem illogical to you that your mud-terrain tire possibly wouldn’t have an M-rating even.

This is because some mud-terrain tire variants have a more pliable rubber compound that is used in the manufacturing process. These tires are designed to support you on off-road journeys, such as perhaps driving over some dunes. However, this design that supports you while you’re off the road, unfortunately, won’t be able to support winter conditions.

You might be under the impression that if your mud-terrain tires can handle off-road trails, they should be able to handle rain and wet conditions. However, it cannot do this – not even off-road. Especially not on a normal road, as mentioned earlier.

This is because the tread blocks on mud-terrain tires are larger to support you’re your vehicle while you are off-road. However, due to the larger size of the spaces between these tread blocks when compared to other types of tires, mud-terrain tires cannot expel water the way other modern tires can.

If you’re looking for a mud tire, there are many great advantages to these specialty tires – and we’ll look at those in a moment. Unfortunately, handling wet conditions while off-road is not one of those advantages. If that’s the functionality you’re looking for from your tires, you may be better suited with an all-terrain tire, which we will look at below.

The Advantages of Mud-Terrain Tires

There are many advantages mud-terrain or off-road tires could provide you and your vehicle with. Depending on the tire manufacturer you go with, there might be additional advantages the specific off-road tire you choose may offer you.

#1 They’re One of the Most Durable Tire Options

When you consider the vast array of tire types available on the market, off-road tires hold up as one of the most durable tires available today. With this type of tire, you’ll be able to drive confidently in the rain – but it can do a lot more than just that. With off-road tires on your vehicle, no road is off limits!

#2 Their Treads are Designed for Grip

When we said no road is off limit, we meant it! The treads on off-road tires are designed to give you an excellent driver grip on rocky and muddy terrain. The specially designed tread allows your car’s tires to grip easily on different surfaces. With these tires, you can explore to your heart’s content!

#3 You’re Less Likely to Get a Puncture

Tire punctures are a never-ending headache. However, you’re less likely to get that specific headache when you’re rolling with off-road tires. One of the best advantages of this type of tire is that you’re a lot less likely to get an unexpected puncture when driving due to the durable design of off-road tires.

#4 They’re More Than Durable, They’re Designed to Last

You read that correctly! Off-road tires are truly made to last when used in the appropriate conditions. When you use your mud-rated tires on normal roads, they will wear out faster than off-road tires used in the correct conditions. When you use your off-road tires in the appropriate places, these tires will have a longer lifespan than other tires on the market.

The Disadvantages of Mud-Terrain Tires

Despite the many fantastic advantages of this type of tire, there are still a few disadvantages you should be made aware of before you invest your money in a new set of tires.

#1 They’re Not Reliable in the Rain

As discussed above, due to the wider tread blocks on mud-terrain tires, these tires cannot efficiently expel water while you’re driving. This means that these tires are not suitable to handle wet off-road conditions.

#2 They’ll Only Function Properly Off-Road

Not only will mud-terrain tires struggle to function in wet conditions off-road, but they can also only be used off-road. That means the range of when you can use these specialty tires is quite limited, and you may be better suited to an all-terrain tire.

#3 They’re More Expensive Than Other Tires

Another drawback when it comes to specialized mud-terrain tires is the price tag. This can often be a lot higher than similar counterparts. Spending more money on tires that can only be used off-road and aren’t equipped to handle cold weather conditions is an important consideration. You may be better off with an alternative option.

#4 They Aren’t Always Covered Under Warranty

Many manufacturers of these tires, due to the nature of their use, do not provide a warranty from the manufacturer. If they do, it is likely that the warranty will be more limited than that of other tires. This is due to the unpredictable nature of off-road trails when compared to the roads tires generally drive on. This is an important consideration to keep in mind when making your decision.

What is the Alternative to Mud-Terrain Tires?

If you came into this article hoping that mud-terrain tires would hold up in rainy conditions, we had some bad news for you. Luckily, there are other types of tires that may be better suited to your needs – that is, driving off-road, no matter the weather.

If that is, in fact, what you’re looking for, an all-terrain tire may be the best option for your needs. These tires actually have a longer lifespan due to their durable treads. These tires are also known to deliver a quieter ride while off-road than mud tires.

Even better than that? These tires have improved traction in winter weather conditions. This means that you will be able to take these tires off-road, even when it’s raining out. If It starts snowing, you’ll still be fine to drive with all-terrain tires.

Once you’re ready to get back on the normal roads, you won’t need to worry about potentially damaging your tires as these can be driven on more surfaces than their mud-terrain counterpart. This gives you a lot more freedom in terms of where you go with your car. It really is for any terrain.

However, as with mud-terrain tires, there are a few drawbacks. Firstly, while these tires will be equipped to handle the rain both on the road and off-road, this tire isn’t as adept at handling extreme off-road conditions.

As we discussed earlier, mud-tires are specifically designed to handle those conditions – and nothing but. However, the versatile all-terrain tire option wouldn’t be able to handle extreme off-road trails as well as a dedicated mud-terrain tire. However, if it started raining, that might change!


Mud-terrain tires – also known as off-road tires – are designed to expertly handle off-road conditions, especially the most extreme ones! However, when it comes down to performance on wet surfaces, these tires struggle due to the unique tread block design. This is a major drawback when it comes to mud-terrain tires.

In this article, we looked at an alternative option. All-terrain tires, as discussed above, are equipped to handle both on and off-road conditions comes rain or shine. While all-terrain tires cannot handle the most extreme off-road trails, the versatility it provides is a huge advantage and makes them a great mud-terrain alternative.


Louis Pretorius

As an amateur off-road enthusiast, I have always been drawn to outdoor adventure. I have decided to share all of my learning experiences with you as I dig a little deeper into my new-found passion and wonderful world of off-roading. My mission is to create the Ultimate Off-roading space on the internet in the process. Stay safe and happy Off-Roading!

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