Michelin vs Dunlop: Which Tire Reigns Supreme?

You need new tires for your vehicle, and you’ve narrowed the choices to two brands, Michelin and Dunlop. Which is the better tire, Michelin or Dunlop?

are michelin tires better than dunlop

Based on buyer reviews and testing sites like Consumer Reports, Michelin is considered a better tire, ranking at the top in almost every tire category. Michelin tires are known for tread life, tire wear, and traction and use a more complex rubber compound than Dunlop, which Goodyear makes. 

Every year, tire manufacturers invest large sums of money in analyzing and improving the tires they produce. Scientists in white lab coats with pocket protectors test tread wear, longevity, traction, and other things.

Each nuance is recorded and charted, subjecting these little round rubber donuts to the most rigorous inspections. But despite the vigorous pursuit of perfection, no company has yet to discover the secret to making a tire that does not wear out. Tread life is finite. Tires will wear down and need to be replaced, and eventually, every car owner has to face this dilemma. This article will examine two of the most popular brands today, Michelin and Dunlop. 

Which Is The Better Tire – Michelin Or Dunlop?

new tires

Based on the evidence from independent consumer groups, Michelin is a better quality tire than Dunlop (made by Goodyear). Groups like Consumer Reports rank Michelin tires with a higher rating than Dunlop in most categories (although not every time). Here are some reasons why most reviewers rank Michelin ahead of Dunlop. 

The Compound

Michelin tires use a more complex initial rubber compound than Dunlop, leading to more effective wear and tear and longevity in daily use. Michelin’s website indicates that over 200 different ingredients go into their tires, from elastomers, silica, oils, and other chemicals. While each company’s formulas are closely guarded trade secrets, Michelin has worked hard to produce a product that has won over the hearts and minds of a buying public. 

Dunlop uses a softer rubber compound with less rigidity and hardness. The flexibility of their rubber polymers makes Dunlop a good quality tire for most road applications. The compound holds up well and is considered a good value for general tires. 

And the winner is: TIE – both compounds have shown good resiliency and tend to hold up over time.  

The Depth of Tread

One of the things that are critically important for tires is the viability of the tread. Michelin tires have a standard 9 mm of tread on them, while Dunlop tires begin with 8 mm.

This difference might not seem like much, but it can significantly impact the tire’s longevity. The extra tread on a Michelin tire means that the tire will last longer (depending on a driver’s habits, road conditions and maintenance).

And the winner is: MICHELIN (which has a slight advantage over Dunlop in that the tread depth lends itself to longer lifespans). 

Ride Quality and Performance

Dunlop uses a softer compound for its tires, which translates to a quieter and lighter feel when traveling down the road. Their flexible compound tends to increase the surface contact of the tire to the road, especially during cornering. This quality is crucial during high speeds or when consumers are placed in emergency situations. 

Michelin tires tend to be “louder” than Dunlop in that they create more road noise. Now, many factors go into road noise, like driver habits, road surface, proper inflation, and various other variables, but also the compound plays a part.

Dunlop might have a slight edge here, but the truth is that Michelin has been quietly taking notes and have recently introduced a 20% reduction in internal tire noise through its Acoustic Technology program. 

Michelin vs Dunlop tires

The downside of using a less flexible rubber base is that a softer tire tends to wear more quickly. Many owners have found this complaint on the Dunlop Tire. In most tests, in almost every category, Michelin tires seem to ride rougher but last longer. 

For off-road applications like driving over rocky terrain, such as mountain passes, Michelins are probably the better choice. In racing or street applications, a softer, palatable compound works best, especially since curves force the tire’s rubber to flex more to maintain the adequate surface area.

And the winner is DUNLOP (Dunlop wins by a slight margin. Their tires offer a comfortable ride and are quieter. However, Michelin tires are improving all the time and are better for off-road applications). 

The Cost

Consumers will find that Michelin tires are expensive, and you should expect to pay more for a good set of this brand of tires.  Dunlop tires (a part of the Goodyear family) offer a less expensive tire to meet the budgets of many consumers. 

Most manufacturers have sales and discounts on tires throughout the calendar year, and if you are lucky, you might catch a sale. Try to shop around for tire pricing and use this as ammunition for getting the best price when you head to your tire installer.

Most independent tire wholesalers will not sell to the general public directly from their warehouse but have agreements with local repair shops. Call your service center after internet shopping and see if they can price-match. 

And the winner is TIE (Michelin tires are more expensive, but Dunlop offers excellent value for budget-minded consumers).

are michelin tires better than dunlop

Technology

Tires are constantly selling, so it makes sense that they are constantly evolving. The innovation inside the company makes a big difference (it is one of the reasons that there are so many tires to choose from).

Tire companies are constantly striving to build a bigger and better tires, and Michelin’s research arm tends to be on the cutting edge of technological advances. They were the first to come out with the radial tire design in the late 40s. This innovation revolutionized the tire market so that today most automotive tires are radial designs. 

Both companies have been racing toward producing a ” green ” tire to be considered sustainable. (Goodyear announced in 2022 that its researchers had developed a tire made from 70% sustainable materials, which it plans to market in 2023. Note: Goodyear developed a demonstration tire made of 90% sustainable material). Michelin has also committed itself to produce a 100% recyclable tire by 2050.

And the winner is MICHELIN (the company has been on the cutting edge of tire and tread design for years (including the radial thing). Dunlop is also innovative, particularly regarding sustainable resources).

Availability

Both companies are worldwide leaders in tires. Goodyear claims to be the best-selling tire company in the world, but the truth is that neither of them is the king of the hill. The number one tire company in the world for 2020 was Bridgestone (Japanese) at $27.49 billion in sales, followed by Michelin at $24.82 billion. Goodyear ranked a distant fourth with a measly $12.32 billion. 

Since both companies do a great deal of marketing, their tires are available at almost every tire center across the country.  You should have no problem finding a tire in your correct size. You will have to pay more to have the Michelin name on your sidewalls. 

And the winner is MICHELIN (both tire companies are available almost anywhere, but the french company sells more yearly).

Warranty

One of the most important considerations for the purchase of tires is the tire manufacturer’s warranty. Michelin offers an excellent no questions asked return policy for the first 60 years and then covers tire defects for six years (assuming that the driver has maintained and rotated the tires regularly). In addition, Michelin offers three years of roadside assistance due for the first three years of ownership. 

Unfortunately, Dunlop does not offer nearly as good of protection. The warranty is for two years or 24,000 miles, whichever comes first. (There is no roadside assistance).

And the winner is MICHELIN (there is no contest between them. The warranty is much better with the more expensive tires). 

What Makes One Tire Better than Another?

If you have ever wondered what the scientists in lab coats do all day, the following are some things they look for in a tire. 

The Composition of the Tire

Your tire is more than just a piece of rubber wrapped around a rim. Every tire is made of rubber compounds combined with highly specialized chemicals, synthetic materials, silica, steel belts, fabric cords, and fillers like carbon black and oil. While each company has its ratios of components, in general, tires are much more complicated than what the typical consumer sees when they purchase a set for their car. 

The manufacture of tires is a complicated and messy operation. First, companies mix all the ingredients in the rubber compound (including over 30 different fillers and synthetic polymers), as each tire begins with a basic tar-like mess that is cooled and cut. In stages, the rubber compound is formed and layered along with other items like steel belts and fabric cords.

Giant machines in hot assembly plants (which contain huge furnaces for molding tread patterns and sidewalls) spew out their creations and are glued to the base as the tire begins to take shape. 

But the process doesn’t stop once the tire is fashioned. The product goes through a curing process called vulcanization. This process subjects the fashioned tire to intense heat and compression until the molecules of the rubber compound bond together, forming a tire’s elasticity, durability, and strength. Without vulcanization, tires would feel like your car was riding on round pieces of stone (aka Fred Flinstone’s car). 

While the tire-making process is more complicated than what I just described, you can tell that scientists have a lot to study, from polymers to compounds, belts to cords, and even glue to consistent wear and tear. 

The Effectiveness of a Tire

Basically, scientists are studying two things about a tire; how it was made and how well it holds up to the rigors of daily driving. Companies drive the heck out of their own and their competitors’ tires to test the tire’s effectiveness.

There are tests for longevity, tread wear, durability and permeability, strength, and even traction or grip on the pavement. Each of these processes helps give the engineers clues as to how to tweak the formulas for their tires to make them better, or how to save money by adjusting one thing over another. 

Michelin vs Dunlop new tire comparison

While each company has its methodology for testing tires, these research facilities have tires hooked up to machines connected to highly sophisticated computers measuring all kinds of variables. It is tedious work, but it helps tire companies to know why their tire might perform better or worse than the competition. 

While there is a great deal of industrial security and secrecy about the findings, many independent rating organizations, like Consumer Reports or the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), also perform similar tests, which is one way you can have an idea about what tires tend to be better than others. (CR reports that they run over 1,000 miles daily on each tire they test). 

Key Takeaways

  • Michelin tires are generally thought to be better in duration and performance.
  • Michelin tires are more expensive than Dunlop.
  • The warranty is better and longer with Michelin.
  • Dunlop uses a softer compound than Michelin, which helps with curves.
  • Dunlop is leading the industry in developing recycled tire technologies.

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