Like a kid on a school’s basketball court showing off the newest shoes, expensive and flashy tires can make your 4x4 stand out from the crowd. That is, until the kid in the budget shoes fakes right and spins left and leaves you in his (or her) dust. Wait—aren’t we talking about tires here? Oh, right. Back to the tires and the lesson at hand.
So price and fancy features might make a product superior to the competition, but they also might not. When you’re working on a project with a fixed budget like our annual cheap and fun Cheap Truck Challenge, getting quality for a lower price is key. When it came time to get new gym shoes for our cheap 4x4 Kimchi, the Kia Sportage, we went online to Discount Direct for a set of the least expensive dedicated mud-tire in 31/10.50R15 flavor, the Nankang N889 Mudstar M/T. the Mudstars made it through CTC 2015 and are still churning up the dirt to this day without issue.
So the answer is these inexpensive treads did what we needed them to when “driving to the hoop” through mud, dirt, and rocks.
The tread design of the Nankang Mudstar M/Ts is simple yet effective. We like to see wide spaces between tread blocks, and these tires have them. Adding to that, the sipes (small slits in the tire) help with wet traction as well as grabbing snow and ice. The holes in the outer lugs show that the Mudstars can be studded for ice. Ribs on the outsides of the outer lugs help with clearing mud. Wheels are factory Ford F-150/Bronco Steel Wheels in Chevy Engine Orange.
Having encountered more mud in one day of the Cheap Truck Challenge in northern Arizona than we might see all year in that state, we can say that the Mudstars performed right at the top of the bar for a mud-terrain. We tried to get stuck, but the large lugs cleared and clawed their way out of every hole we hit.
In the some loose wet sand we found that the Mudstars dug and clawed well. This particular time on the trail we didn’t air down, and that makes a huge difference in the sand. Still, the tires performed as they should have. On-road the Mudstars do hum a little bit, but no more than you would expect from a mud-terrain with aggressive lugs.
In the rocks, with about 12 psi in each tire, we were very impressed. The Kia was undergeared, but the Mudstars got us down the trail and over some obstacles we had no business on. The sidewalls and tread lugs handled the abuse without any major chunking or cuts to speak of.
Model: N889 Mudstar M/T
Size Tested: 31/10.50R15
Load Range: C
Maximum Load (lb @ psi): 2,271 @ 51
Sidewall Construction: 2-ply polyester
Approved Rim Width (in): 7.00-9.00
Tread Depth (in): 0.56
Tread Width (in): 7 1/2
Section Width (in): 9 5/8
Overall Diameter (in): 30
Weight (lb): 44.7
Sizes Available (in): 30-33