The Goodyear Wrangler MT/R
A look at the new Goodyear Wrangler MT/R Off-Road Tire Short Cuts

by: David Gray
Dec '99

| Up | New Features | Testing the MT/R

The Goodyear Wrangler MT/R
(Maximum Traction / Reinforced)

Graphic courtesy of Goodyear
The MT/R stands for Maximum Traction / Reinforced

Goodyear, largely on the strength of its OEM tire sales, sells more light truck (LT) tires than any other manufacturer. For the off-highway replacement tire market, particularly among the more serious crowd running MT- style tires, a different manufacturer, BFGoodrich, had a long-standing reputation as being one of the strongest all-around tires available in the LT 31"-35" sizes. This reputation was largely built around the toughness and durability of their 3-ply Tri-Guard sidewall.

Photograph courtesy of Goodyear
The Venerable Goodyear Wrangler MT was a fine tire - The MT/R is better

All of the top off-road tire manufacturers better be hard at work in their research departments, and not sitting on their past achievements - Goodyear has developed a very tough new off-road tire, the Goodyear Wrangler MT/R. In doing so, they developed a new "Dura-Wall" sidewall - taking aim squarely at one of the most critical qualities needed for hard off-highway use. I was lucky enough to be able to put these new tires to the test. In over five months of this testing, I drove several thousand highway miles, 'wheeled the Rubicon twice, drove the SWB run at Sierra Trek (Fordyce Trail), and sped across many miles of rock-covered washboard and rutted forest service dirt roads.

The older generation Goodyear Wrangler MT was a good tire, quiet on the road and tough enough to be used as the standard issue tire on the US military's Hum-Vee. The new Wrangler MT/R is better in several ways, but for rock crawlers and hard core 4x4 fans, perhaps the most important improvements are to durability, puncture resistance, and treadwear.

Click for a larger comparison chart


Tread Design & Footprint

The Wrangler MT/R has a much better tread design, with an improved pattern, more tread in contact with the ground, more total biting edges, and more total void area (the empty space between tread blocks - critical for mud traction). The tread design also extends farther up the sidewalls. This does much more than just make the tire look more aggressive - when aired down, this increases the amount of usable tread in contact with the ground, and helps protect the sidewalls from scrapes and cuts. This tread design is quiet too - initially it is not as quiet as the previous Goodyear Wrangler MT, but after a few thousand miles, when the MT is getting louder, the MT/R is still just as quiet as it was when it was new.

The design of the tread and the new optimized tire profile also results in a significant improvement in the contact patch. The new Wrangler MT/R fills in the corners better, resulting in a larger and more square contact area at all inflation pressures and loads.

The MT/R Footprint (left) is much more square than the previous MT footprint (right)

Tire Construction

Goodyear MTR Construction FeaturesThis tire uses both an advanced new construction and a new rubber compound to achieve toughness and durability in its new "Dura-Wall" sidewalls. The Wrangler MT had a two ply sidewall design where the cords in the sidewall ran in the same direction. The infamous BFG TriGuard sidewall uses a tough three-ply sidewall construction. You can't just count sidewall plies to see how tough a tire is - many tough industrial tires use a single, very tough sidewall ply. The new Wrangler MT/R Dura-Wall sidewall uses a three ply construction where the individual plies are laid so the cords cross each other instead of all running in the in the same direction. This means that it is harder for an object to penetrate the sidewalls or cut through them.

Graphic courtesy of Goodyear
Silica is added to the compound to increase sidewall durability (click for larger image)

Goodyear is also using a new rubber in the sidewall of the tire. Silica has been added to the rubber used in the tread of some of the newest high-tech tires produced by several manufacturers for a few years. The use of silica increases the number of cross-links between the polymer chains in the rubber compound. When used in the tread, this results in greater wet traction, less rolling resistance, and better wear characteristics. Goodyear's use of a silica enhanced rubber compound in the MT/R's sidewall is unique. The end result of the use of this stronger rubber compound in the body and sidewalls of the tire is a significantly increase in the overall toughness and durability of this tire. According to Goodyear's own testing the Goodyear Wrangler MT/R has achieved a significant 74% increase in treadwear and a 35% increase in puncture resistance when compared against the older Goodyear Wrangler MT. As you will see next in our test report, our experiences on the trail bear out that these are some tough tires!

Click to go on to the test report on page 2

Contacts & Related Links:
Big O Tires
1150 N. Beale Road
Marysville, CA 95901
(530) 742 8581

Goodyear Tires
See your local Goodyear Retail Dealer
Dealer Locator

Sierra Trek '99 Goodyear Extreme Rock Crawling Challenge
(Farmington, 1999)
Basic Wheel Facts ORN 4x4 Expo Center
Rubicon Trail Reports