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Testing the New Firestone Transforce AT2 Tire

Posted in How To: Wheels Tires on February 7, 2019
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What is in a name? Many have asked; few have gotten a solid answer. When it comes to tires a name that you recognize carries quality that other companies with unfamiliar names have yet to prove. Nowadays there are more and more tire companies you’ve never heard of all around us. Sure, some of them offer a great product for the price, but it’s next to impossible to separate them from the new-name or no-name tire companies that, when the public realizes the tires are junk, might disappear as quickly as they appeared.

Enter a company we know you’ve heard of: Firestone, with a new Transforce AT2 aimed at light- and medium-duty trucks that see off-road use. Almost all tires require the buyer to make compromises. Few tires have nearly bulletproof sidewalls on the trail while also being quiet on-road and lasting 40,000 to 70,000 miles—especially on a big heavy four-wheel-drive pickup. And while we like to take every vehicle we own off the paved road and even off the beaten path, chances are we won’t be venturing too far up the Hammer Trails or a trail in Moab in our tow rig (so bulletproof sidewalls may not be needed).

So far the vast majority of the driving that this truck and these tires have seen has been in front of a trailer towing. The tires are quiet in our opinion (though our tire noise filter is pretty coarse) and have never given us the slightest feeling of the loss of traction on a hard surface. We’ve put a few thousand miles on the tires, and they show no signs of wear, cuts, or chipping. The prominent four bands of siped tread blocks grab the pavement quietly and effectively. The three wide voids help the tires do as much work as you’d expect from a medium-duty all-terrain tire.

Our tow rig is unique rig. It’s an old ranch truck from Idaho, a 1998 Dodge 2500 4x4 Diesel with a five-speed manual. It’s rough, tough, and doesn’t have a lot of frills. It gets the job done. The last set of tires we ran on it were mud-terrains and definitely more aggressive than these Transforce AT2s, but at the same time we didn’t use them or the truck off-road as much as we thought we would. We used it to tow trailers, run parts, and haul junk to the dump. Sure, it occasionally saw and will see the sloppy wet Forest Service road, or a soft sandy campsite, but it’s proven to be more of a pavement pounder than a trail rig.

Luckily for us, the Transforce AT2 is will carry this truck a whole lot farther down a trail than we will ever take it. These tires (ours are a 285/70R17 LT size) are built with a chip- and tear-resistant rubber compound that is tough enough to deal with rough road conditions like rocks and gravel. These tires also feature deeper tread than the original Transforce AT, said to improve traction in wet and muddy conditions as well as providing more snow traction. Wide voids between siped and closely packed tread blocks help with water shedding and tread clearing, all while an innovative tread-to-road contact footprint helps to retain performance longer over the course of the tire service life. Sounds like a perfect match to us. Here’s how these tires have worked for us over several months of testing, mainly towing on asphalt roads with the occasional romp into sand, mud, gravel, and rain.

Finding mud in the Southwest ain’t always easy, but it does happen. Our first experience with the Firestone Transforce AT2s was on a wet and somewhat snowy Forest Service road in central Arizona. The mud wasn’t deep, but it was slick. The Transforce AT2s grabbed at what they could and kept us moving even when we had to turn around in a wide spot in the road. The three large central voids cleared the mud quickly and easily while the multiple chip resistant edges grabbed and pushed on the slick substrate. Subsequent mud wasn’t much more daunting, and both times we never felt close to getting stuck in the slick stuff even if the tires did spin. Voids cleared quickly, and the tread blocks gave us side-to-side traction like a ribbed tractor or sand tire.
Soft sand is hard on any tire, especially under a heavy truck. We rarely use this truck for dune running, but the Firestone Transforce AT2s surprised us with how well they performed in the sand, especially since we were running tow rig road pressures. The big heavy turbodiesel kept the tires turning, and somehow we kept on moving over the damp and well-packed dune sand. This jaunt into the sand was fun, but the stiff suspension of this older truck and our need for a dedicated tow rig will probably keep it from being our primary sand car.
A tow rig is expected to do its job at the drop of a hat. Ours sees lots of use and abuse and not much love, yet we expect it to be utterly reliable. Having a tire that grabs and lasts despite the use and abuse is exactly what this truck needs. We did also step down in tire size for this test, trying to fine-tune the highway gearing for fuel economy before an axle regear. Taller tires are always more fun-looking, but not always practical. So far we’ve been nothing but impressed by the performance of the Firestone Transforce AT2s on our big old Dodge 2500.

Specifications

Firestone Transforce AT2
Size Tested: LT285/70R17
Type: All-Terrain M+S
Load Range: E
Maximum Load (lb): 3,195 @ 80 psi
Sidewall Construction: 2-ply polyester
Approved Rim Width (in):
Tread Depth (in): 18/32
Tread Width (in): 8.875
Section Width (in): 12.125
Overall Diam. (in): 32.8
Weight (lb): 53
Sizes Available: 15 sizes available from LT225/75R16 (29.3 inches) to LT275/70R18 (33.2 inches) for wheels 16, 17, 18, and 20 inches in diameter.

Sources

Firestone Tire
Akron, OH
844-252-4329
http://www.firestonetire.com/

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