A/T, M/T, R/T…….OH MY!!!! How’s a “HerJeeper” to Decide Which Tires Are Best for Her Jeep?

Photo Credit: toyotires.com

In the off-roading world, one of the most important decisions you will ever make regarding your Jeep is which tires to go with. This is such a pivotal decision because your entire rig literally rides on it. Being that your tires are the only part of your Jeep that is actually designed to come into contact with the ground, it’s essential that you set yourself up for success for the type of terrain you plan to do most of your driving on. Tire type can have major impacts on your fuel economy (Ha! I said fuel economy in reference to Jeeps) and your Jeep’s ability to perform the way you want it to.

JK Willys stock tire: 32″ BF Goodrich Mud Terrain T/A.

First things first. Let’s get some tire abbreviations and definitions out of the way so you can follow along more easily if you’re not familiar with these terms.

A/T = All Terrain – This type of tire is designed specifically to handle both on- and off-road driving. With a brawnier tread design as compared to the H/T, the A/T tire is favored by those seeking a more rugged visual aesthetic while cruising around town.

M/T = Mud Terrain – The mud terrain tire is purposefully designed with off-road capability as its primary purpose, while keeping in mind the secondary purpose of highway driving (you’ve got to get to your off-road driving destination after all). If you are a fan of Toyo Tires, you’ll know that they consider M/T to also mean “Maximum Traction.”

R/T = Rugged Terrain – A relatively recent addition to the tire market (introduced by Toyo in 2014), R/T tires are designed as a cross between the aggressive look and grit of an off-road M/T tire and the smooth, quiet ride quality of an A/T tire.

  • Per Toyo, “Off-road performance meets on-road comfort with the all-new Open Country R/T. Built rugged for any terrain, this powerful 4×4 tire offers excellent off-road traction, durable construction, and aggressive styling. Its ability to tackle mud, dirt, sand, and rocks is inspired by the legendary Open Country M/T, while its quieter ride is a nod to our best-selling Open Country A/T II.”

H/T = Highway Terrain (yeah, we use the term “terrain” lightly with this one) – This tire is specifically for paved roads. Most stock sedans and minivans come equipped with H/T tires – but you’re not driving a sedan or minivan, are you? Even if you are the proudest Pavement Princess around, you wouldn’t be caught dead with a set of H/Ts on your Jeep. And if you are, yes, we’re judging you.

There, now we can move on and dig into the nitty-gritty of what all that means for you and your tire-based decision.

I’ll use my own Jeep, Miss-Chief, as an example to illustrate my point. Because Miss-Chief is a Willys Wheeler edition, she came from the dealership brandishing M/Ts. I decided to upgrade my tires from 32’s to 35’s and in doing so, elected to keep the M/Ts on her because I like the aggressive look of them and I had plans to do some serious off-roading and muddin’. Purchasing tires; however, shouldn’t be based on appearance and price point alone.

Miss-Chief’s Toyo M/T tire. Cat not included.

An M/T tire typically features large tread blocks with spacious channels between them. While the channels are wider to allow for faster mud and water displacement (aka mudslingers), the tread blocks are composed of a beefy texture to ensure maximum traction in dirt and mud. Further, this type of tire often features an “over the shoulder” lug that extends from the tread area down onto the sidewalls which allows for even more grip as needed on trails with deep mud, snow, gravel, and rock. When aired down, the protruding lugs become an impressive part of the traction equation. Despite the popular misconception that M/Ts are horrible for the sand at the beach and snow in the mountains, an aggressive lug tire can do well in the sand, even without airing down, and a well-siped tire does well in the rain and snow. The Toyo Open Country M/Ts have an aggressive lug and are well-siped.

Miss-Chief in the sand at the beach.

I learned through my tire-based research that some of the downsides to the M/Ts are, however, that they don’t last as many miles as A/Ts (e.g., Nitto Trail Grappler M/T Light’s approximately 45k miles versus the Yokohama GEOLANDAR A/T G015’s 60k miles), and because of the added grip their tread blocks provide, some can be overbearingly loud on the roads – especially if you’re rocking a soft top. Another downside to the M/Ts is that additional energy is required to move that bulky tread, so a drop in fuel economy is almost inevitable.

In contrast, the A/Ts pros counter the cons of the M/T. Meaning, you’ll get more mileage for your dollar (in tire and fuel) and a considerably quieter ride on pavement. These factors make A/Ts ideal on your daily driver and are perfect for commuters and traveling longer distances but they’ll still allow you to hit some lighter trails. While A/Ts perform decently on many trails, they will never perform as well as M/Ts which are designed specifically to take you where you want to go off-road.

Miss-Chief after off-roading. Close-up of M/T tire tread.

And this brings me to the R/Ts.

R/Ts are the Goldilocks of tires. Not too aggressive, not too passive. They’re just right because they are a perfect blend of the best-combined traits of the A/T and M/T. It’s a tire that is tailored towards the daily driver and weekend warrior (weekdays for work, weekends for trails).

Toyo put a lot of thought into crafting a tire that would provide drivers with the best of both worlds. With a 3-ply polyester casing to resist punctures and improve overall tire durability when under heavy loads or being operated in an “aired down” state off-road, Toyo backs their R/Ts with a generous 45,000-mile treadwear warranty.

The R/T is like hitting the Vegas jackpot of a tire shelf life. Even better, Toyo offers a no regret trial period of either 500 miles or 45 days. In their words, “Buy ’em, try ’em, love ’em. If you are not completely satisfied after 500-miles or 45-days, we’ll take them back.” Think about how many other tire manufacturers you have ever heard say something like that?

At this point, and especially if you haven’t clicked on any of the outbound informational links sprinkled throughout this post, you’re probably wondering how much a set of these tires is going to cost you. I’ll tell you up front that you may want to consider selling a kidney because quality off-road tires don’t come cheap. And if you do choose to opt for a lower priced tire, you’ll likely sacrifice in quality and performance. That said, you can expect to pay anywhere around $250 for A/T; $300 for M/T; and $315 for R/T, per tire. For this comparison, I chose the popular tire size, 35/12.5R17, and the Toyo brand on Amazon.com. Smaller tire sizes, like 33”, typically cost less. We’re not even going to discuss H/Ts because they don’t deserve it.

Miss-Chief tackling the rocky terrain with Toyo Open Country M/T.

So, while this might seem like a pretty pro-Toyo post, in all honesty, Toyo is the most popular manufacturer of R/T tires for off-roading. And, as a testament to their quality and reputation in the off-road community, I have Toyo’s on Miss-Chief with plans to eventually upgrade to the R/Ts once my current set reaches the end of its tread life.

Miss-Chief’s personal review: These are great tires (M/T) and I highly recommend them. I’ve had them on for about fifteen months now and they’ve done me right. I’ve gone off-roading with them many times and they have gotten me through the most challenging trails. I’ve gone through sand, rain, mud, rocks, and pavement and these tires have taken everything I threw at them. And they’re actually not as loud on the pavement as other aggressive tires. I barely hear them when the window is lowered and the radio is off.

Toyo has been around since 1938. It is not your more affordable tire but what you’re getting is a damn good tire! And it is a brand you can trust!

Tidbit knowledge: Nitto makes a great tire too! That’s because they are owned by Toyo. (insert winky face here)

Herjeeplife is NOT an affiliate of Toyo Tires. Herjeeplife has NOT been paid to write this post.

 

 

 

HerJeepLife.com’s UnOfficial Guide to the Jeep Wave

When you purchased your first Jeep Wrangler and drove it off the lot (or the previous owner’s driveway), you were probably pretty giddy with excitement. Once just a dream, your Jeep ambitions were finally coming to fruition. On your way home, however, you might’ve noticed a strange thing beginning to happen that made you feel like part of something – a movement even. It made you feel like you “belonged.”

It’s just a small gesture, really. But complete strangers making eye contact and waving as they drive past in their own Jeep Wrangler conveys a whole lot. It might be a full hand that waves out a window, or it could be just two fingers lifted off the top of their steering wheel, but this my friend is the Jeep Wave. Not just relegated to folklore, Jeep owners really do wave at each other in the real world.

Much like motorcyclists and Mini Cooper drivers waving to one another, Jeep owners show their respect for each other by this simple gesture which fosters community and solidarity. Esprit de corps, if you will.

Because Jeeping is a way of life.

It happens every now and again that a new Jeep Wrangler owner slips through the cracks and isn’t informed by her Jeep salesperson of her new Jeep Wave obligation. Shame on those Jeep sales associates, but we’re here to rescue those who don’t know about it from continuing to receive those ugly glares of judgment and disdain because they either:

  • didn’t initiate a wave
  • didn’t return a wave.

You see, there’s a certain “hierarchy” to owning a Jeep, and therefore, to the Jeep Wave. In fact, here’s the official statement from Jeep Nation on the subject:

“Warning: Owning, registering, insuring, or driving a Jeep implies knowledge of and intent to abide by the following rules, regulations, and guidelines. Failure to obey the letter or spirit of the rules may result in your being ignored by other Jeep owners as you sit along the side of the road next to your stalled vehicle in a blizzard surrounded by Saturns, Yugos, and Hyundais.”

Sounds a bit dubious, right? I know. But it’s really a simple matter because you see, when you own a Jeep Wrangler, no matter where they are around the world, every other owner of a Jeep Wrangler is a comrade and should be treated accordingly – hence, the Jeep Wave.

Jeeptalk.org tells us:

“The Jeep Wave: An honor bestowed upon those drivers with the superior intelligence, taste, class, and discomfort tolerance to own the ultimate vehicle – the Jeep. Generally consists of vigorous side-to-side motion of one or both hands, but may be modified to suit circumstances and locally accepted etiquette.”

While the Jeep Wave is rendered in good-natured fun, there are some rules that govern its delivery. Let’s take a look at those now. The hierarchy previously mentioned is based on a few different factors. Those being:

  • The model and year of your Jeep
  • Mods and upgrades versus stock
  • Pavement Princess versus Mall Crawler versus Off-Road Beast
  • Daily driver versus Tricked out Overlander
  • Nostalgia

Typically, though, most Jeepers and JeepHers will just wave to any other person driving a Jeep Wrangler, regardless of the aforementioned factors. But there are those who take the Jeep Wave quite seriously for what it represents, so for that reason, it’s good to be well informed on the subject.

That being said, thanks to Andrew Boyle over at CJPonyParts.com, there is an actual Jeep Wave Calculator to help you determine where you fall in the Jeep Wave food chain and who should initiate the wave.

 

 

Pro Tip: If you’re ever in doubt, just whip it out and wave. No one will fault you for being proactive in your Jeep Wave prowess.

 

 

 

If you’re still confused, the helpful folks over at Reddit had a pretty lengthy discussion on the topic which resulted in this handy flowchart, which should be taken with a grain of salt and for the fun it’s meant to be:

(Credit: Reddit OP NikonD3s)

Now, on to the different types of Jeep Waves. Because we’ve received a few questions regarding the proper style or format of Jeep Waving we’ve conducted exhaustive research on the subject. What follows are our findings of the matter via All Things Jeep, Jeep Guide, and a few dozen Jeep forums.

*Observe closely and make note that: should you attempt a particular style of Jeep Wave without first familiarizing yourself with its proper execution, you will be pointed and laughed at – most likely before a return wave has been rendered.

(Credit: Reddit OP deleted)

Here’s some guidance borrowed from All Things Jeep:

  • Topless: One-handed wave above windshield or outside body tub (HJL Note: the latter particularly if your doors are off)
  • Topless in blizzard: Shiver and nod, hands may remain frozen to steering wheel (Head nod to Gina in Fayetteville, NC)
  • Southern/rural locations: Raise fingers from steering wheel and nod

While there has been, in recent years, a number of new additions to our Jeep Wrangler family who, through no fault of their own, have not been properly informed of their Jeep Wave responsibilities, it is up to us, the seasoned Jeep Wavers to educate them and lead by example.

All in all, the Jeep Wave is a way for Jeepers and JeepHers around the world to acknowledge and salute one another along the highways of life. Whether it’s a soccer mom who never leaves the hardball or a country girl who loves to go topless and get dirty, flash a wave and carry our Jeep Wave tradition forward to new generations.

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