No tire does everything perfectly. If such a tire existed, you can bet that race car drivers would not stop for a new set when it starts raining. When it comes to driving in the rain, there are certain characteristics you want to look for in a tire, particularly mud tires.
Mud terrain tires are not ideal in the rain, but they are also not the worst. Many mud tires are prone to aquaplaning, so it can be dangerous in the rain. All-season tires are preferable to mud tires in the rain, but season-specific tires are better again if you are willing to switch every year.
There are so many tire options out there, and which one you need will depend on where you plan on taking your vehicle. In this article, we’ll be looking at mud tires to see if they hold up to their competitors in the rain. Let’s get stuck in!
What Are Mud Tires?
Mud terrain tires (or just mud tires) are tires with an aggressive tread pattern designed to clear mud out of the gaps (or voids) between the blocks.
In other words, the surface of the tire is covered with large blocks of rubber with deep, wide gaps between them. The closer the tread blocks are to each other, the faster you will have to spin the wheels to clear mud out. With their huge voids, then mud terrains are the ideal tire for doing some serious off-roading.
For most everyday uses, however, mud tires are a bit too aggressive. Because they are designed to function best in muddy, off-road conditions, mud tires can be very noisy and hard to handle under normal circumstances.
What’s more, they actually reduce fuel economy, have a shorter life, and make for a rougher ride than most of their competitors. Unless most of your driving is done off-road in muddy, rocky terrain, then chances are you don’t need mud tires.
Is It Safe to Use Mud Tires in the Rain?
Aquaplaning (or hydroplaning) occurs when the tire fails to clear water from between the tread blocks. This can result in the tire sitting ‘on top of’ the water, making little to no contact with the road beneath. That can cause the car to slide around completely out of the driver’s control. The faster you drive, the more likely you are to aquaplane.
Mud tires are more prone to aquaplaning than some other types, making them one of the less safe tires to use in the rain.
Another important consideration when it comes to aquaplaning is the tread depth. As tires become worn out with use, the tread depth is gradually reduced. Less tread depth means less space for the tire to store away excess water. So that means that mud tires are actually better than a ‘bald’ or ‘slick’ tire when it comes to rain. However, the drainage of the tire is also an important consideration.
An all-season or all-terrain tire will perform much better in the rain since they are designed to drain water out of the grooves. Mud tires are designed to clear thick mud and loose rocks from the grooves. That is great for off-roading, but it means that mud tires are a more dangerous choice than all-seasons when it comes to driving in the rain. Specialized rain tires will be far safer than even a great set of all-seasons.
Should I Sipe My Mud Tires?
Siping is the practice of cutting many tiny slits into the tire. There is little evidence that aftermarket siping helps with anything other than performance on ice or snow. Even then, siping has an almost unnoticeable effect on traction and can actually increase braking distances on wet and dry pavement.
Many tires come with siping already, and these tires are often better in the rain and snow. That is because the manufacturers have calculated the best way to sipe that particular tire in a way that works with the tread pattern. Another consideration is that aftermarket siping will void the warranty on your tires!
What Are the Best Tires In the Rain?
The answer to this question depends to an extent on the temperature. If it is hot, then summer tires are what you need for the rain. However, if it is cold, then all-season, performance, or even winter tires will be best. Most people are not willing to change their tires twice a year, so an all-season tire is likely the best choice when it comes to rain.
Here are the best tires for different driving conditions:
Best Rain Tires in Cold Weather: Bridgestone Blizzak WS80
If you live in a region where it is consistently cold, and you frequently have to drive in snowy or icy conditions, then the Blizzak WS80 is probably the tire for you. This is a winter tire, which means that it will wear quite quickly when the weather gets warmer, but the performance level in the cold is very hard to beat.
The Blizzak WS80 gets a score of 9.1 out of 10 on wet performance on the website TireRack, matched by only two other winter tires on the site! These tires are extremely resistant to aquaplaning and will give you great traction and handling in the rain. However, make sure only to use them in cold weather, since they will lose performance when it gets warm!
Best Rain Tires in Hot Weather: Michelin Pilot Sport 4S
Although quite expensive, the Pilot Sport 4S is a great choice for driving in wet, hot conditions. This tire is rated at a whopping 9.2 out of 10 for wet weather performance on TireRack, making it the highest-rated tire in its category! The drawback is that the performance of these tires will fall off a cliff when the temperature drops.
The tires should never be used at temperatures below 40℉ (4.5℃). Doing so can be dangerous to the driver and other road users. If you are willing to change your tires every summer or live somewhere where the temperatures never approach freezing, these tires are the best of the best in the dry and wet.
Best Rain Tires for All Seasons: Michelin CrossClimate+
I know what you are thinking. No, I am not paid by Michelin. They simply make great tires. The CrossClimate+ has the best wet-weather rating on TireRack so far, coming in at 9.5 out of 10! Another big plus is that you probably don’t have to change these tires with the seasons. They give great handling in the dry and wet at a whole range of temperatures. They can even hold it up pretty well to light snow and ice conditions!
To an extent, these tires are the ‘Jack of all trades, master of none.’ If you are going to be driving in very heavy snow, then winter tires (or indeed mud tires) will do far better. If you are going to be driving in hot conditions (dry or wet), then summer tires will do far better.
Mud tires certainly aren’t the best choice for wet conditions, but they also aren’t the worst! They are a very niche tire choice and are absolutely perfect for harsh off-road conditions. If you are always out on off-roading expeditions, then mud tires might well be the tire for you. It is broadly safe to keep them on even when driving on wet pavement, but make sure to drive more slowly and not turn too suddenly. There are much more capable tires out there in the wet!
- Semantic Scholar: Speed analysis of the radial tire on hydroplaning pavement
- AutoGuide: The 10 Best Wet Weather Tires and Why You Need Them
- AutoNerds Review: Are Mud-Terrain Tires Good In the Rain?
- Bumberas: Pros And Cons Of All Terrain Tires And Mud Tires
- Consumer Reports: Does Tire Siping Really Improve Traction?
- Consumer Reports: Best and Worst Tires in All Weather Conditions
- Darra Tyres: Fitting Quality tyres – How to reduce the threat of aquaplaning
- Dirt Legal: Daily Driving On Mud Tires Is a Huge Waste Of Money
- Discount Tire: Mud-Terrain Tires: Pros and Cons
- Driving Line: All Terrain vs. Mud Terrain Tires: What To Know Before You Buy
- Find Any Answer: Are All-Terrain Tires Good For Rain?
- Jalopnik: Why Aftermarket Siping On Your New Tires Is Bullshit
- Magnum: Everything You Need To Know About Mud Tires
- JSTOR: Analysis of Hydroplaning Photos Using an Image Analyzer
- JSTOR: Factors Affecting the Friction Of Tires On Wet Roads
- Simple Tire: Mud Tires vs All-Terrain Tires
- Souza’s Tire Service: Choosing Between Different Styles Of Tire
- Speck: All Terrain, All Season, All Weather – What’s The Difference?
- Talk Cars Well: How To Choose the Best Tires for Rain Driving: Wet Traction Ready!
- Texas Bow Hunter: Mud Tires On Wet Pavement?
- Tire Rack: Grand Touring All-Season Rating Charts
- Tire Rack: Winter/Snow Passenger Rating Charts
- Tire Reviews And More: Top 10 Mud-Terrain Tires Of 2020
- The Drive: 3 Best Mud Tires (2020)
- WhatCar: What’s the Best All-round Tire?
- Tire Rack: Michelin CrossClimate+
- Tire Rack: Michelin Pilot Sports 4S
- Tire Rack: Bridgestone Blizzak WS80
- Bridgestone Tire: Tire Tread Patterns