Different Types of UTV Tires and Their Uses (2022)

For the most part, the stock tires that come on new UTVs aredesigned for general purpose or all terrain use, meaning they arecan trudge through a variety of terrain types and obstacles, aslong as it's not too aggressive. In fact, the majority of the1000cc sport models such as the Yamaha YXZ1000R, Polaris RZR XP1000, and Can-Am Maverick come with the same general purpose tire,the Maxxis Bighorn 2.0.

The Big Horn is a highly popular tire that offers good tractionand durability; you can even find the Bighorns on a lot of theutility models as well. The outliers where you won't find generalpurpose/all-terrain tires would be the more niche vehicles thatcome optimized from the manufacturer for a specific type ofterrain. An example would be the Polaris RZR High Lifter Editionand the Can-Am Maverick X mr models which are outfitted with deeplugged tires and other specific components to better enable them toplow through muddy bogs.

You can have a lot of fun with the stock general purpose tiresand cover plenty of ground, but if you plan on spending a lot oftime or doing some serious action in a specific type of terrainit's best toss on a set of tires that are specifically designed forthat type of terrain. Running the wrong tires can not only slow youdown but it can cause excessive wear on your vehicle, lead totire/tread damage, accelerate tread wear, and lead to a lot of downtime as to try to get your vehicle unstuck from messy situations.In or to get the best ride and have the most fun you should try tochoose side-by-side tires that best suit the type of riding youwill be doing.

(Video) 7 Basics To Know About ATV/UTV Tires!

There are four main types of UTVtires: general purpose/all-terrain, mud, sand, and hardpack/dual sport.

General Purpose/All Terrain Tires:

These tires feature thick, rugged lugs that run about 3/4- to1-inches tall and are spaced apart to allow them to grip whencrawling over rocks and logs while also enabling them to dig in andprovide some traction in snow, sand dunes, and mud pits. The spacedlugs make for easy, self-cleaning and prevent rocks and sticks fromgetting stuck. More of a heavy duty tire they have sidewalls thatcan often resist punctures from sticks and rocks.

The manufacturers choose to outfit their vehicles with thesetires because they do most things pretty well and can handle theterrain that most average users will drive in. Are they the best inthe tires for the sand? No, but if you air down you can make yourway up and across most dunes and creep through most rock crawlingtrails.

On surfaces like hard pack dirt and pavement they offer a semismooth ride but some people may find them to be a bit on the loudside, especially when compared to hard pack/dual sport tires. Ifyou do plan to drive your UTV on the highway, keep in mind thatmost general purpose tires aren't DOT legal.

(Video) UTV Tire Buyer's Guide

Because they are so universal there a wide selection when itcomes to general purpose/all-terrain tires. The Maxxis Big Hornsmight be the go to tire for manufacturers but there are plenty ofother in this category that offer good performance in diverseconditions such as the Sedona Buzz Saw XC, GBC Dirt Tamer, ITPTerra Cross, and Ocelot Knight.

Mud Tires:

You can't miss these tires when you see them because of theirtall and aggressive lugs which sometimes look like claws. You couldgroup mud tires into three categories: light mud, medium mud and,deep mud, with the lugs getting more robust as you move down theline. The lugs on these tires are pretty heavy duty and havefeature tough sidewalls that can take a beating and dig you out ofsome messy situations. Some mud tires have a taller and narrowerprofile to allow for clearance in deep pits and ruts and to make iteasier to navigate through bogs. The lugs on deep mud tires likethe Sedona Mudda Inlaw are extremely large measuring 2 inches tallin the center and 2-1/4-inches tall at the outside edge. Quite afew manufactures create their tread pattern or lugs in an arrowshape to enable the tire to cut through and push the mud off to thesides of the tires.

With their widely spaced tread pattern the sturdy lugs offerexcellent traction and help the tire to grip and hook onto rootsand rocks as they claw their way through and accelerate thevehicle. On many tires the very pronounced tread pattern extendsinto the sidewall to provide extra bite in deep ruts. The widelyspaced lugs let the soft mud slip right out as the tire rotates toensure plenty of traction in sloppy mud pits. Many tires feature a6-ply casing which helps keep thing light and easier to move whenyou encounter sticky muck that gets caked in between the treads.

Some mud tires like the Ocelot P341 which would be more of amedium mud tire can work pretty good in the snow as well. On flat,harder surfaces the tires that fall into the deep mud categoriescan provide a rather rough and loud ride.

(Video) UTV Tire Buyer's Guide | 2022

Sand Tires:

Like mud tires UTVsand tires have a very distinct look with their pronouncedpaddles. In fact sand tires are not only unique in their design butin the front and rear tread style as well. They are the only tireswhere the rear tires are completely different than the front. Rearsand tires are deigned to be lighter weight and wider so that theywill "float" across the sand. Sand tires or paddle tires as manypeople call them, get their traction via large scoops that runacross the width of the tire. These scoops can be around 1 inchestall or larger and are evenly spaced around the tire so that thereis anywhere between 9 to 16 scoops/paddles per tire.

The paddles act like rotating shovels and dig into the sand tohelp propel the vehicle forward. Since all the traction is providedby the paddles, in between each paddle the tire is bare-this helpskeep the weight down. And since you don't really have to worryabout rocks or sticks puncturing the tires they are mostly made of4- or 6-ply, again to keep them light and enable the tires to stayatop the sand. Because they are lighter and more flexible,depending on how low of air pressure you run, there's a greaterchance that you can pop a bead-especially if you do a lot of highspeed cornering on the dunes-therefore you may want to look intogetting a set of bead lock wheels. One thing you don't really wantto do a lot of with paddle tires is run them on hard pack or pavedsurfaces because not only will get a rough ride but you just mightend tearing or chunking up the paddles. Some of the more popularpaddle tires are the GMZ Sand Stripper and STI Sand Wedge.

Front sand tires are quite different than their rear counterparts. There are a couple styles of front sand tires:ribbed/spiked, completely smooth, or ribbed with paddles. Theribbed design helps the front of the vehicle carve into turns andgives the driver a better feel of the front end and more control.While ribbed tires do help with front end maneuverability, onecomplaint many people have is that ribbed tires throw up way moresand that can fly back at the driver and passengers. Similar to theribbed there are spiked that have small rubber spikes (like adragon's spine) that wrap around the tire.

(Video) Choosing Your ATV & UTV Tires

The smoothed, or buffed, design is typically used on highperformance machines. The smooth tires are most often preferred bydrivers who do a lot of drag racing or straight up hill climbs andwant the absolute lightest tire they can find. That's not to saythat you can't turn and carve with smooth tires, you can, it'sreally a matter of preference. Then there is the combo front whichhas a rib in the middle for steering and half paddles on the outeredge for traction at the front when running in four wheel drive.

Hard Pack/Dual Sport Tires

Kind of like general purpose tires these tires can do a littlebit of everything, but depending on what the terrain is they mightperform as well as the general purpose tires. Most tires in thiscategory mimic the design and tread pattern you'd find on offroadtruck tires. Hard Pack/Dual sport tires are some of the mostdurable tires you can find, some are steel belted and many fallinto the 8-10 ply range, which also makes them heavier as well. Infact, because of their toughness and all-around performance you'llsee hard pack/dual sport tires used on a lot of race team in theBaja 500 and WORC Racing circuit.

These tires feature stout lugs that can withstand a beatingwhile gripping and biting into various surfaces. However, unlikegeneral purpose tires where the lugs are widely spaced, the lugs onthese tires are smaller in height and width. The tread patter isalso arranged in a much tighter formation that provides moresurface area. The wide surface area on a tire like the TensorRegulator delivers great feel and traction on hard pack surfacesand enables the tires to grip really well in corners.

(Video) What Kind Of ATV or UTV Tire Is Right For You?

The other big difference between hard pack/dual sport tires andgeneral purpose tires is that quite a few of the hard pack tireslike the extremely popular GMC Kanati Mongrel are DOT rated,meaning they are legal for street/highway use. And because of thecompact tread design these tires deliver a much smoother andquieter ride at high speeds as compared to general purpose tires.

One thing to note about DOT tires, just because your tires arestreet legal does that mean your UTV can be legally driven onsurface streets or the highway. Not all states allow you to drive aUTV on public streets or highways and the ones that do oftenrequire other things such as turn signals, a horn, and possibly avehicle inspection in order to make your UTV streetlegal.

So which tires are right for you? Well, like we stated at thebeginning, if you are going to be spending a lot of time in veryspecific terrain like sand dunes or mud bogs then for best results,the least headaches, and the most fun match your tires for thoseconditions. If you're doing mostly flat hard pack driving, rockcrawling, hitting light mud or snow, tip toeing around some dunes,or trail hopping where you'll be jumping on the highway for highspeed stretches then and a good set of hard pack/dual sport tiresmay be best for you. For the best all-around tire where you aregoing to be hitting trails, rocks, snow, mud, or some dunes and youstill want a rather smooth ride on hard surfaces, general purposetires are the way to go.


What do the numbers mean on a UTV tire? ›

UTV Tire Sizes & How to Read Them

The first number, 27, refers to the tire's diameter in inches. The second, 11, is the tire's width. “R” means “radial,” identifying this as a radial-ply tire. The last number, 14, gives you the rim diameter of the wheels that'll accept this tire.

Why put bigger tires on UTV? ›

For most ATV/UTV drivers, the main functional reason for installing larger tires is to lift it higher for more ground clearance. With the chassis raised further from the ground, the center of gravity is also raised.

Is there a difference between ATV and UTV tires? ›

ATV and UTV tires are similar, but not the same. UTVs require tires that are durable, as they have to handle loads and can carry multiple passengers. ATVs are usually single-rider vehicles, which do not require stronger load durability. Apart from this, tire size, tread design, and structure types are identical.

What is the lightest UTV tire? ›

The DAEMON, has a rounded profile and is one of the lightest UTV tires on the market, coming in a 39 Lbs. With an 8-ply-rated radial construction, this tire is as durable and puncture resistant as any tire on the market.

How many miles do UTV tires last? ›

ATV tires typically last from just a few hundred to 4-5000 miles or more. How long they last depend on what surface you ride on, tire style, rubber hardness and quality, age, and a range of other factors. Expect 1-2 years if you ride a lot on the road, or 5-10 years if you keep off the road.

What do the 3 numbers on tires mean? ›

B: TIRE WIDTH The three-digit number following the letter is the tire's width (from side to side, looking at the tire head on) in millimeters. This may also be referred to as the section width. C: ASPECT RATIO The forward slash separates the tire width number from the two-digit aspect ratio.

What PSI should I run my UTV tires? ›

Typically, 12 to 15 PSI is enough to avoid pinch flats (where the tire crushes between an obstacle and the wheel), but still flex enough to provide a quality ride across rough terrain. Assuming you have beadlock wheels, you'll want to air down even more for more technical terrain such as sand, mud, or rocks.

Do bigger tires affect engine? ›

Bigger wheels mean heavier wheels, and heavy wheels force your engine to work harder and use up more gas. How much gas you use will be dependent on the strength of your engine. The loss in miles per gallon will be more apparent if your car has a smaller engine.

Do UTV tires need to be balanced? ›

Off-road and utility riding at lower speeds usually do not require a balanced tire. Aggressively threaded mud tires are hard to balance successfully. Trail riding, racing, or other higher-speed applications, will benefit from balancing the tire.

Why do UTVs have smaller front tires? ›

Having smaller tires on the front of a UTV makes it easier to steer. The smaller-width tires on the front of a side by side have less surface contact due to their smaller size. This means there is less tire touching the ground at any given time.

Can I put car tires on a UTV? ›

You can't put standard car tires on an ATV or UTV. The lug nuts are located in a different place on four-wheelers than on cars. Therefore, car tires will not fit on an ATV or UTV. The only way to make them fit is with special modifications that are not worth the time and effort.

What is the difference between an RTV and a UTV? ›

UTV is a generic term for a side-by-side. The RTV is a Kubota side-by-side.

What does NHS stand for on UTV tires? ›

Tires that have NHS in the tire size designation are designed for off highway applications. They must not be used in normal highway service. NHS tires are not intended for the speeds, temperatures, or stresses of highway use. They are typically intended for farm, off-road, lawn and garden, and industrial uses.

Are skinny tires better for ice? ›

– In the winter, narrow tires are better under extreme conditions as they provide higher surface pressure against the road. Narrow tires also work better than wider ones in loose snow and slush. Wider tires, for their part, will offer more grip on hard surfaces, Martin Dražík says.

What ply tire is best for ATV? ›

Most commonly used ATV tires are 4-ply tires. ATV manufacturers often deliver only 2-ply tires as OEM tires that are quite prone to puncture.

How many miles is too many on a used UTV? ›

While there are varying opinions and factors on this matter, most off-roaders consider anything above 5,000 miles to be high mileage. An ATV with 1,000 miles or under is considered to have low mileage. This number suggests the quad has been used for a year or so and did not require much maintenance.

What is considered high mileage for a UTV? ›

What is good mileage for a UTV? Similar to the mileage on ATVs, good mileage for a UTV would be around 1000 to 2000 miles. Of course, the lower the mileage the better, but this almost always means an increase in price as well.

What is high hours for a side by side? ›

An ATV that is run for more than 100 hours each year on average or more than 1000 hours throughout its lifetime is often considered high because it may soon need more extensive maintenance.

What does P mean on a tire? ›

P identifies your tire as a Passenger Tire. The P stands for PMetric. If your tire size starts with LT rather than a P than it identifies the tire as a Light Truck tire.

What is the most important number on a tire? ›

Tire Diameter or Size: 215/65 R15

The very last number in the sequence, “15,” is the diameter of the tire. This is an important number—this is the number you'll refer to when you need to know your tire size! The “15” indicates that this particular tire would fit a rim with a 15-inch diameter.

What does the R mean in tire size? ›

“R” stands for the construction method of the tire indicating the tire is a radial tire. The following two numbers (16) indicate the diameter of the wheel rim in inches. The next two or three numbers (94) indicate the load index of the tire. In the example, 94 means the tire can carry 670kg.

What pressure should I run in my gravel tires? ›

Road tires are usually 80-120 PSI. Gravel tires are often 40-80 PSI.

What PSI should I run my tubeless tires? ›

There's a sweet spot between the two extremes which you want to aim for. Hunt advises against going above 100 psi with 25-28mm tyres, 70 psi for a 30mm tyre, and 35 psi for over 46mm wide tyres. You don't want to go too low either because the tyre could collapse under load in corners and squirm horribly.

Is 44 PSI too much for tires? ›

For instance, if 35 psi is recommended, and the maximum safe pressure listed on your sidewall is 44 psi, you can safely put 38 or 40 psi in your tires.

Do bigger tires hurt transmission? ›

Unfortunately, oversized tires can affect your transmission. The main issue that affects the transmission comes from a lower drive ratio. The bigger the tire the worse the ratio becomes. This issue can be overcome, however, by re-gearing the transmission along with the tire change.

Do bigger tires affect steering? ›

As tires take longer to rotate, steering becomes more challenging than usual. Large tires further add weight and limit the movement of your drivetrain. These slow down your vehicle's acceleration and reduces its maximum speed. The increase in height, while helpful, also makes a car less stable.

What is the advantage of a larger tire? ›

Simply put, the larger your tire, the more of a grip your vehicle has on the road. As a tire's width increases, it covers more surface area on the road. According to iSee Cars, this increase in contact with the pavement gives your vehicle more to hold onto, increasing its handling and ability to maneuver.

How can you improve your traction when driving your UTV off road? ›

To reduce the impact on driving surfaces and improve your traction off pavement, you can: Reduce your tire pressure. Install larger/wider tires on your vehicle. Engage your four-wheel drive.

How do I check my front alignment on my UTV? ›

UTV Alignment How to 7 Pro Tips - YouTube

What happens if tires aren't balanced correctly? ›

The common symptoms of out-of-balance tires are uneven and faster tread wear, poor fuel economy, and vibration in the steering wheel, the floorboard or the seat that gets worse at faster speeds. When all areas of the wheel-tire unit are as equal in weight as possible, the tire will roll smoothly.

How do you read a UTV wheel size? ›

1st Number = The overall tire height when inflated (Ex. 25x10-12 is 25" tall). 2nd Number = The overall tire width when inflated (Ex. 25x10-12 is 10" wide).

What does 112T mean on a tire? ›

The “112” on the marking is the maximum load index. This marking means that the maximum load that the tire should carry is 2,469 pounds. The letter “T” on the “112T” marking on a tire means that the maximum speed that your vehicle should go while using that tire is 118 mph.

What does 26x10 12 mean? ›

The ATV tires within this category are all available in the selected size; 26x10-12. The numbers 26-10-12 represent the dimensions of the tire. The first number is the height, the second number is the width & the third number is the diameter of rim that it will fit on. The width of the rim is not as important to know.

How do you read tire numbers? ›

The first number is the load index if the tire is used in a single application, the second number is the load index if the tire is used in a dual application. Passenger type tires cannot be used in a dual application. Light truck tires will also have a Load Range that is indicated by a letter, such as Load Range E.

What PSI should my UTV tires be? ›

What is the normal tire pressure range? For ATVs, the normal tire pressure recommendations are between 4 and 8 pounds per square inch (PSI). For a UTV or side by side, the normal tire pressure recommendations are between 12 and 18 PSI.

Do UTV tires need to be balanced? ›

Off-road and utility riding at lower speeds usually do not require a balanced tire. Aggressively threaded mud tires are hard to balance successfully. Trail riding, racing, or other higher-speed applications, will benefit from balancing the tire.

Can you put car tires on a UTV? ›

Truck or car tires likely wouldn't fit on a UTV or ATV without serious modifications. This Is because the bolt pattern on car wheels and ATV/UTV wheels is different and would require expensive modifications to make them fit each other. Truck tires would also be too large to fit.

What's better load range D or E? ›

What's Better: Load Range D or E? Load range D and E tires have different weight capacities. For example, a load range D tire can handle 1,220 lbs at 65 PSI, while an E tires carry 1,520 lbs at 80 PSI. If looking at their load durability, load range E tires are better, but that is the only difference between them.

What does the R mean in tire size? ›

“R” stands for the construction method of the tire indicating the tire is a radial tire. The following two numbers (16) indicate the diameter of the wheel rim in inches. The next two or three numbers (94) indicate the load index of the tire. In the example, 94 means the tire can carry 670kg.

What does XL mean on a tire? ›

XL (or Reinforced) tyres are 'extra load' tyres – they indicate that a tyre is reinforced to be able to withstand a higher load than other tyres of the same size.

What does 305 mean on a tire? ›

How Wide Are 305 Tires? Tire width is measured in inches which means that a 305 tire is 305mm wide or approximately 12 inches. As such, a 305 tire is indeed wide and mostly found on performance cars, heavy-duty cars, or tuned cars.

What does 50r mean on tires? ›

50 is the two-figure aspect ratio. This percentage compares the tire's section height with the tire's section width. For example, this aspect ratio of 50 means that the tire's section height is 50% of the tire's section width. R indicates the construction used within the tires casing. R stands for radial construction.

How wide is a 12.50 tire? ›

50 decimal after the initial number. In example "A" this reads 12.50, meaning the tire width is 12 and 1/2 inches. The final number simply is the wheel size or "diameter"of the wheel that the tire will fit on.

What do these tire numbers mean? ›

Is the ratio of the height of the tire's cross-section to its width. The two-digit number after the slash mark in a tire size is the aspect ratio. For example, in a size P215/65 R15 tire, the 65 means that the height is equal to 65% of the tire's width.

What numbers on a tire are important? ›

Tire Diameter or Size: 215/65 R15

The very last number in the sequence, “15,” is the diameter of the tire. This is an important number—this is the number you'll refer to when you need to know your tire size! The “15” indicates that this particular tire would fit a rim with a 15-inch diameter.

What do the final 4 digits in the tire information tell you? ›

The final four digits on your DOT number will tell you the tire's age. The first two numbers of this grouping indicate the week of the year your tire was manufactured. The final two digits indicate the year that your tire was manufactured.


1. Which Tire Size Should You Run On Your ATV or UTV?!?!
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2. UTV Tire Buying Guide For Sand Mud and Hard Terrain Tires ChapMoto.com
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3. UTV Wheels 101 - What You Need to Know
(Rocky Mountain ATV MC)
4. UTV Tire Review with SlikRok Productions
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6. Find The Best Tires For Your Hunting ATV Or UTV

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