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Mickey Thompson Baja ATZs On American Racing 17x8 Fuel Wheels - Tire & Wheel Special

Posted in How To on September 1, 2008
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Photographers: Jeff Dahlin

The Mickey Thompson Baja ATZ tire has been around for a few years now, and it's proven itself in a number of situations. We recently got to try another set of ATZs on a daily driver of ours and remembered why we liked them so much. Their construction, with a flatter tread face and large street-friendly-looking tread blocks, makes it a wonderful tire to shoe your daily driver or tow vehicle. The traction is good in most off-road conditions, and the highway manners of this tire make it a real winner for a number of off-roaders who realize that most of their trucks' time is spent on the highway.

Make/Model: Mickey Thompson Baja ATZ Radial
Size on Sidewall: (A) LT325/65R18, (B) LT305/65R17
Load Range: (A) E, (B) E
Max Load: (A) 3,860 lbs, (B) 3,195 lbs (per tire)
Tire Hardness: 70 on tire durometer
Tread Depth (in): 20/32
Number of Plies in Sidewall: Three
Number of Plies in Tread: Six
Weight of Tire (lbs): (A) 79, (B) 59
Measured Diameter Unloaded (in): (A) 34-1/2, (B) 32-1/4
Measured Width Unloaded (in): (A) 13-1/4, (B) 12
Measured Tread Width (in): (A) 10-1/2, (B) 9-1/2
Mounted on: American Racing 17x8 Teflon-coated Fuel wheels
Available tire heights (in): 31 to 40
Available Wheel Fitments: 15- to 20-inch-diameter Wheels

We didn't get a chance to put our 33-inch ATZs in the rocks, but we have put our 35-inch ATZs in the rocks. Traction on slickrock granite was absolutely stupendous. But as far as a true rockcrawling tire for broken-down, eroded, sharp, and jagged rocks, this is not the tire of choice. The tread lugs do not do a good job of grabbing onto rock points, as there are not large voids between the tread lugs, therefore negating much chance of a tread block grabbing on and pulling the truck up and over.

This tire definitely excelled in sand. Its large tread blocks and low void ratio kept the tire floating on top of the sand. On top of that, we still got a decent bulge out of this 33-inch load range E tire when deflated to 11 psi in the sand. We actually never even pulled our test Durango into 4WD and were able to stay in 2WD the entire time.

On the trail, they were puncture-resistant, and the tread did not chip away on some of the shale washes and tree debris we were running through when testing. Their sidewalls did seem a bit stiff though, which really was no surprise. This tire has been built by Mickey Thompson with the idea of more sidewall support to meet the majority of consumer needs.

We were originally able to try a set of 35-inch ATZs on a Jeep, and let's just say that Mickey Thompson also has a tire called the Baja MTZ. That's the Mud-TZ. The Baja ATZ is ... well, we spun helplessly in the mud more than we have with some other all-terrain tires. Let's make the comparison of bringing a knife to a gunfight: It's just not the weapon of choice.

These tires really perform excellently on the street. They grip the road like a passenger-car tire and have decent rain traction to boot. The ample bit of siping in the tread blocks helps displace water, but having no central groove to channel water out from the tire leaves the ATZs a little skittish in really bad rains. One thing we did notice with this tire is that it is very important to keep the alignment correct and to rotate the tires. Otherwise, you leave the possibility of some decent tire noise after a few thousand miles.

We used an American Racing 17x8 Fuel wheel in our Baja ATZs. We got the wheel in a Teflon-coated finish instead of a black or polished finish, admittedly solely based on looks. But there are benefits to the Teflon coating: Mud and dirt fall off the wheel much more easily, and it is a breeze to clean after you're finished in the dirt.

We have come to really enjoy driving on these tires, and we do it often, as they're on one of our most commonly used vehicles. The mild bit of off-roading and majority of highway driving we do really necessitates a tire like the Baja ATZ. After using a couple different sets, one thing we have learned is that you need to make sure to rotate these tires, especially if you're a fan of hard cornering. The noise level of the ATZs on the highway can dramatically increase if you start to cup your tread lugs.

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