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What's the difference between a radial and all terrain tires


If you classify tires by their construction, there are 3 types:  Bias (also known as diagonal), bias belted, and radial (which is by definition belted, but hardly anyone adds "belted" to the term).  

Radial tires are built with the reinforcing ply cords coming radially out from the center hole, where with a bias tire, those cords are at a substantial angle.  If the tire has belts (cords at a substantially different angle than the ply cords), then the word "belted" is added, but for radial tires they leave the term off because all radial tires have belts.

If you classify tires by how they are used, you would use the terms street, race, all season, highway, all terrain, winter, etc.

In the case of All Terrain tires, the tires is designed to have traction on a variety of surfaces. which means the tread rubber is harder, and the tread pattern is more chunky.  The net effect is that compared to an All Season tire, an All Terrain tire would be noisier, consume more fuel, not have as much dry traction, but would get better traction in snow and mud.

So a radial tire might or might not be an All Terrain tire - and an All Terrain tire might or might not be a radial tire.  The term refer to different kinds of properties.  


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Barry Smith


I have over 30 years experience in the design, manufacturing, and testing of tires. I have served as the technical advisor to the "800" number. I have authored or co-authored many publications - usually without credit. I can answer almost any technical question, but please don`t ask me to compare brands. I probably have prejudices because of my work experience.


Member SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) Member Tire Society (Tire Technical Organization) SCCA Regional Competiton License holder Authored many training manuals on tires, their care and use.

SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) SCCA (Sports Car Club of America) Tire Society

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I am a graduate of the University of Dayton, Dayton, OH - BME, 1971 I attended graduate school at the University of Akron - but did not complete my PhD - something I regret.

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