Michelin Defender Review [2023 Updated]

By Tire Expert, Ryan Nichols
By Tire Expert, Ryan Nichols

Does your sedan, coupe, crossover, passenger car, minivan, or pickup need new tires?

We’ve done our research on Michelin Defender LTX M/S, Michelin Defender T + H, and other Michelin Defender models to help you make the right decision on your purchase.

Michelin tires are perfect for your Toyota, Nissan, Hyundai, Honda, Chevrolet, BMW, Mercedes, Dodge, Ford, or Tesla— or anything brand of passenger car or truck.

Sure, it’s great to know about Intellisipe technology and Maxtouch construction technology featured on Michelin Defender tires, but at the end of the day, you want to know if it’s actually worth the money.

And hey, you want to take advice from professionals who have both installed and tested these tires at high speeds, right? That’s what I’m here for, your trusty neighborhood tire expert here to separate the crap tires from the good ones.

Are Michelin Defenders worth your money? Let’s find out.

Wet Traction:
Dry Traction:
Snow Traction:
Ride Comfort:
Ride Handling:
Ride Noise:
Tread Life:
Value For $$$:

Traction - Michelin Defender

On dry highway surfaces, Michelin Defenders have tread blocks known for their superior durability when compared to any other all-season tire (hence their higher price range). Michelin’s MaxTouch Construction™ design works to maximize weight distribution and even heat dispersion allowing for every part of the tire’s tread to make consistent contact with the road.

We also rated Michelin Defenders highly for driving on wet surfaces because of their deep-grooved treads and excellent peer reviews. Please note that these tires have an ‘inside’ and outside’ printed on each side of the sidewall, so it’s important to double-check that the installer didn’t put them on the wrong way. The Defenders’ tread design is symmetrical, but their tread and sipes are designed to spin in just one direction—part of the directional tread design is for quickly expelling water from the treads.

As for offroad traction, these certainly aren’t offroading tires. Yes, they’ll get the job done on basic dirt roads, but you should opt for BFGoodrich or something similar if you aren’t a highway driver. Defenders are considered adequate for light snow weather conditions, but we recommend a dedicated snow tire for winter mountain dwellers (check out Michelin X-Ice. Pilot, or Latitude.)

Traction Rating: 4.5/5

Ride Comfort - Michelin Defender

One of the main reasons you might want to consider buying Michelin is because they make for a more comfortable ride, and all-season tires like these Michelin Defenders are great at adding to the comfort of your driving experience.

So why are Michelin Defenders more comfortable than say, summer tires? It’s because their sidewalls are typically taller, meaning they have a larger aspect ratio (the middle number on the tire size). Tires are an important part of a car’s suspension system, and they’re also the only part of the car’s suspension that comes in contact with the road. Higher-profile tires generally give you a ‘floatier’ feel with smoother bumps. Michelin Defenders come in various sizes, but they are generally beefy tires with a higher-profile sidewall.

Let’s point out that tires aren’t the only part of your car’s suspension that increases comfort. You could also potentially upgrade suspension parts for better performance and comfort. For example, many car owners upgrade to Bilstein, Fox, and other reputable aftermarket suspension manufacturers to make their rides even more stable.

Ride Comfort Rating: 4.5/5

Ride Handling - Michelin Defender

Michelin Defenders handle as good or better than any other comparable tire.

Let’s be clear—these are H-rated tires designed to travel safely at speeds of up to 130 MPH, however, they aren’t the highest performing Michelin tires when it comes to handling. If you’re looking for the best of the best all-season tires, you’ll want to opt for Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3+ or you might simply want a high-performing set of summer tires like the Michelin Pilot Sport 4S.

After having your new set of Defenders installed, make sure to immediately test them at high speeds before leaving the tire shop/dealership behind. Tires spin fast, and imperfections happen. Plus, it’s not always the tires that are causing your car to handle poorly. Other faulty suspension parts like ball joints, control arm bushings, and struts/shocks might trick you into thinking you have a tires issue.

On that same note, always get a full vehicle inspection by a professional upon every oil change. And be mindful that not all automotive shops are perfect, and they’re not all going to find every imperfection the first time around—even experienced technicians need time to figure things out when it comes to correcting the steering and driving performance of hard-driven cars that are just a few years old.

Michelin Defenders have a speed rating of ‘H’, meaning they can safely travel at speeds of up to 130 mph.

Ride Handling Rating: 4.0/5

Ride Noise - Michelin Defender

From our experience, Michelin Defenders reduce the ride noise, and that’s because these tires are designed for the highway. The sidewalls on Defenders are typically higher profile than sport tires, so they serve as an additional pillow for the suspension system.

For example, a typical Michelin Defender tire size is something like 185/65/R15. The first number is the tire width, the middle number is the sidewall aspect ratio (taken as a percentage of the tire width), and the R15 means that the tires are made for 15-inch wheels.

Anytime you see an aspect ratio higher than 60 means the sidewalls of the tire are high-profile and will add a bit of height to the vehicle when compared to a sportier tire—taller tires mean less noise when you go over bumps.

Just like I mentioned in the ride handling section above, it’s not always the tire causing the ride noise. For example, you might think your tires are wobbly, but maybe your wheel bearings are shot and just a few miles away from ejecting your wheel assembly onto the road. Other suspension problems that cause ride noise are bad struts, ball joints, control arm bushings, etc.

Ride Noise Rating: 4.5/5

Hydroplaning - Michelin Defender

These are some of the best tires you can get for those times when you unintentionally go hauling into a huge puddle of water on the highway. The circumferential grooves, Intellisipe technology, and ‘x’ shaped sipes allow for quick water evacuation on wet roads.

Unless you’re downgrading tires, you’ll definitely notice how well Defenders stay in control when driving over water at high speeds compared to your old tires.

Another way to prevent hydroplaning is by keeping your tires properly inflated. You might run them at 40 PSI (or above manufacturer spec) during the summer, but you’ll want to bring them down a notch to 30 or 35 PSI during those wet months (don’t let them get under 30 PSI)).

Hydroplaning Rating: 4.5/5

Tread Life - Michelin Defender

Honestly, these are some of the longest-lasting tires on the market, and their warranty shows. Guaranteed for up to 80 thousand miles, the tires could very well outlast the car in some situations. The secret to the Defender’s longevity is mainly due in part to sturdy steel belts and a polyester cord body that keep Defenders on the road for longer than other tire manufacturers.

Why do Michelin Defenders last so long? It mostly has to do with the technology put into producing a quality tire. For example, Michelin’s Evertread compound has a high silica content that gives them more rolling resistance.

If you look closely at the treads of Michelin Defenders, you’ll notice that they have hard-biting edges on the sides, symmetrical ‘x’ shape sipe design, and ultra-deep tread depth compared to other tires. I can’t stress enough about staying on top of your tire maintenance when it comes to maximizing tread life. Here are a few ways you can ensure that your Michelin Defenders stay on the road for a hundred thousand miles to come:

  • Fill your tires with nitrogen

Nitrogen eliminates flat spots and prevents tire deflation. I always recommend paying the extra cost for the shop to fill your tires with nitrogen instead of regular old air from the air compressor.

  • Don’t let tire pressures get low

Check your tire pressures every month or so with a tire pressure gauge to make sure they are within manufacturer spec for the specific vehicle.

  • Check tread depths from time to time

Keep a tread depth measurement tool, and measure each part of the tire tread every so often. Try to notice of the numbers become uneven from inside to outside when measuring the tread depths—uneven numbers mean you either need a tire rotation or have a suspension/alignment issue.

  • Rotate every 5 thousand miles

Your tires will wear out faster if you don’t rotate them from front to rear every 3-5 thousand miles.

Tread Life Rating: 5.0/5

Value For Money - Michelin Defender

Yes, you’ll be spending a little bit extra upfront for Michelin Defenders. That being said, you’ll likely spend less in the long run based on how long these tires run. For somewhere around a buck fifty a pop, we say buy quality when it comes to tires. Because if you don’t buy quality, you’ll end up buying quantity.

Not only are off-brand tires guaranteed for fewer miles, but they also have more potential to fail, and when that happens you’ll be spending more money on tires and a second installation… not to mention the time you wasted changing out the spare.

Aside from the actual cost of the tires, it’s worth noting that your gas mileage will slightly improve after installing Michelin Defenders because of their higher profile and precise manufacturing technologies.

Amazon is a great place to pick up a new set of Michelin Defender tires. Don’t forget that there are Defenders specially made for light trucks (Defender LTX), and also for smaller passenger vehicles. (Defender T +H)

We also recommend buying Michelin Defenders from Tire Rack because of their good reputation.

Value For Money Rating: 5.0/5

Final Verdict - Michelin Defender

Okay, so you’ve now discovered that Michelin Defenders are some of the longest-lasting tires you could possibly buy, so now it’s time to figure out the exact size and submodel to choose.

Want to take a test spin on some Michelin Defenders before you buy? We recommend cruising over to your Honda dealership for a test drive in a Honda Accord.

Meet Your Tire Expert

Michelin Defender
OVERALL rating:
Updated April 12, 2024
Quick Facts
  • Warranty 80000 Miles
  • Typical Price $111.00 - $434.00
  • Treadwear Rating 720 - 840

Tire Recall Information

Warranty & Tire Sizes

Frequently Asked Questions

Per almost anyone’s opinion, Michelin Defenders are great tires. Our research shows that 90% of web reviews favor Michelin all-season tires over the competition. Also they are some of the quietest running all-season tires on the market. 

Sure, Defenders will do just fine in light winter conditions, but they definitely are not winter tires. If you are a city commuter, we guess that you’ll be fine getting to work after the snowplows pass, but mountain dwellers most definitely need to store these tires for the winter if faced with extreme snow and ice.

Michelin Defenders are guaranteed for at 80 thousand miles. You can preserve the life of your tires by performing maintenance on them every now and again.

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