Michelin Defender Review
Pro’s at a glance:
90,000 mile warranty, 31 ft shorter stopping distance, saves $250/yr in gas with X-Green technology, quiet ride, better wear, less cupping, company stands behind their warranty
Best price/place to buy(shipped): tirebuyer.com
There are numerous tire vendors out there and Michelin is one of the best, if not the best in the tire industry. There are many to choose from including Goodyear, Dunlop, Uniroyal, Sumitomo, Nitto, Nexen, Kumho, Toyo… just to name a few. To be considered the best out of all these competitors is no easy feat.
Michelin’s come standard on many new vehicles. If you have bought a new Honda, Toyota, Lexus, or Acura, you probably have a set of Michelin Primacy’s on your vehicle. While Michelin Primacy’s are great tires, they are not going to be the longest lasting tires on the market. They are geared more for performance than touring.
There were two very popular Michelin brands, the Michelin Harmony and the Michelin Hydroedge. Michelin’s latest tire is the Defender, they have discontinued the Hydroedge and the Harmony and put the two technologies together and came out with the new Defender. Now, I work at a major tire retailer and I have recommended Michelin Defender’s more than any other tire in the market. The reason for this is because of their outstanding warranty, 90,000 miles (in most sizes). This warranty completely trumps any other tire warranty on the market (standard is somewhere around 50-60,000 depending on size and tire’s intended use). The only other tire in the industry that will beat Michelin’s warranty is Sumitomo, with their Touring LST Plus tires (100k warranty). But if you compare the UT rating,the Defender is rated higher. So what does that mean? Sumitomo might have the 100k warranty but the Defender will outlast it.
The Defender promises 31 ft shorter stopping distance than the leading tire in the industry and claims to save at least $250 in gas using their X-Green technology. I have sold a lot of Defender’s and I have never had one come back because of a defect. On most tire brands I have sold, I have had at least one come back because of a factory defect or because of ride issues. Goodyear is one tire I thought was really good in quality, that is until I had 3 duds in the same month. They went flat as soon as we put them on.
A lot of tires tend to wear unevenly and cup as well if struts or shocks start to wear. When tires come in for their free rotation and balance, I see a lot of cars with over 50k miles on them (MAP recommends replacing shocks/struts every 50k miles). With the Michelin Defender’s I see a lot less cupping and uneven tire wear.
Overall, the ride on the Defender’s are quieter and smoother than other tires in the industry. Pricing wise, they are cheaper than the Primacy, but more expensive than average mid-range tires on the market. I would actually consider the Defender a high-end tire because of the brand and quality. But one thing about the Defender is that it has a lower speed rating, usually a T or an H. For higher end cars, the H or T rating just isn’t going to cut it (think sport sedans and sport coups, Lexus, BMW, etc). You would have to go with the Primacy or equivalent if this is the case.
All in all, this is a great tire. If you do a lot of highway driving and if noise is a big factor, purchase the Michelin’s. If you don’t mind paying a few more dollars and getting a better quality, better wearing tire with a company that backs their warranty, get the Defender. If you’re on a budget, get one of those 40,000 mile economy radials.
While Michelin is sold at virtually every retailer, the best place to buy is tirebuyer.com. I’ve done a lot of research and they are hands down the cheapest. Tirerack.com is listed cheaper, but with shipping, it is a lot more expensive.