Michelin Defender T + H Tire Review [2023 Updated]

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

Michelin claims that the Defender T + H is its longest-lasting tire, but is it? That’s the question I aim to answer in this review.

Now I realize that there are plenty of Michelin Defender T+H reviews out there, so I made it my goal to try and hit on certain aspects of this tire you might not find in any other review.

So, if you’re looking for new tires for your Honda Accord, Subaru Outback, Toyota Camry, or any other sedan or crossover, stick around and see what I have say about this tire—you might like what you see.

If you’re looking for how this tire performs in a specific area (like ride noise or tread life) below you can just click and skip to that section. Make sure to read other tire reviews from myself or one of the other talented tire experts on this site.

Let’s get into this review!

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

Traction - Michelin Defender T + H

Michelin Defender T + H tires have impressive dry traction comparable to the most elite tire brands.

With deep-running zigzag sipes that grip the road, you’ll be the master of dry roads after swapping out your old set for some fresh Michelin Defenders. They may not be the tires you want if you’re constantly driving offroad, but they’re definitely fairly versatile considering they’re designed more for the highway.

With a tread design designed with special tread blocks that quickly evacuate water, these Defender T+H tires will help eliminate the stress of driving on wet surfaces. One of the main reiterations on the internet about these tires is how well they do in the rain.

Despite the fact that these aren’t winter tires, they still perform nicely in light winter conditions. That being said, if you’re headed up a snowy canyon you’ll want to equip your vehicle with tire chains, and if you consistently drive in icy and snowy conditions then we highly recommend storing your all-weather tires for a studded winter set.

When buying commuter tires, you want the best traction possible. Getting caught in the rain or snow is a common occurrence for most commuters, and those who have the better traction stay in control and make it to work safely.

Traction Rating: 4.5/5

Ride Comfort - Michelin Defender T + H

A comfortable ride is one of the most important things in life, and Americans spend at least an hour a day on average according to the U.S. Department of Transportation Volpe Center. You might not think it, but tires actually play a huge role in making a smooth ride possible while driving. These Michelin Defenders are great tires for improving your ride comfort, and they even have a name for it: Comfort Control Technology.

Tires are a crucial part of the vehicle’s suspension system, and most sizes of the Defender T+H have a relatively higher sidewall (aspect ratio) especially when being compared with other performance tire manufacturers like Pirelli, Continental, etc.

To put things into perspective, Michelin sells an ultra-high performance Pilot Sport tire with the potential to travel up to speeds of 185 mph (300 kilometers per hour), however, the sidewalls are lower profile making bumps more noticeable on rougher roads. Commuters, you’re better off sticking with Michelin Defenders over any of Michelin’s sportier tires.

We can tell you from experience that these Defenders are great for Mini van owners because of their striking ability to up the comfort level. Seriously, babies sleep better with a quiet and ‘floaty’ set of tires like Michelin Defenders.

Ride Comfort Rating: 4.5/5

Ride Handling - Michelin Defender T + H

If you look closely at the Defender T + H treads, you’ll see that they have crisp biting edges that hug the road when going around tight turns on the highway. In fact, Michelin claims that their special Maxtouch technology allows for every part of the tire’s tread to evenly touch the road when inflated properly.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, about 25 percent of fatal crashes in 2006 happened on sharp curves, so that’s why it’s important to have solid tires on your car.

No, these tires aren’t the most ideal for speeding down the autobahn, but they’ll provide you with reliable handling and excellent road grip at highway speeds anywhere in the USA. And don’t forget to check tire size on both the front and back of your vehicle just in case the front tires have a smaller size.

It’s also worth noting that these Michelin Defenders have an H speed rating making them safe for speeds of up to 130 mph.

Ride Handling Rating: 4.5/5

Ride Noise - Michelin Defender T + H

Focusing more on your podcast or music channel and less on car noise is ideal, and quiet performance is where Michelin Defender tires knock it out of the park. These Michelin Defenders almost completely eliminate road noise, and there’s a noticeable noise difference when driving on Michelins compared to other off brands.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 612 total motor vehicle traffic fatalities in 2019 were due to tire-related crashes, so there’s one thing for certain—installing reliable tires will put you in a safer seat than those noisy, unbalanced off-brand tires you sacrificed performance for.

Let’s also mention that ride noise isn’t always coming from the tires. For example, you might think your tires are bad because they are bouncing up and down violently, but that would actually be an upper suspension issue like a blown strut or shock.

If your car is a few years old, its likely that ride noise is coming from something other than your tires—be sure to have a mechanic check off the proper function of your tie rods, upper/lower control arm bushings, ball joints, etc., before installing your new tires. It’s also a great idea to have an alignment performed after your tire replacement to ensure the best possible performance and life out of your investment.

At any rate, you can pretty much guarantee minimal to zero ride noise on these Michelin Defender T + H tires so long as the car and wheels are in good shape.

Ride Noise Rating: 5.0/5

Hydroplaning - Michelin Defender T + H

Hitting a patch of water while driving down the highway is no joke, and your tires are a huge part of whether or not you will be able to maintain traction when driving through a puddle. Luckily, Michelin Defender T + H tires are among the best you can get for being stuck in the rain.

When driving over water, a tire must efficiently evacuate water from its treads to help the driver maintain control of the vehicle. Michelin Defender T+H tires have circumferential grooves and Intellisipe technology designed to efficiently evacuate water from the tires when hydroplaning.

The best way to stay in control when driving over puddles is to always keep your Defender T+H tires inflated to manufacturer spec—that means you’ll need to look in the driver’s side door of your specific car for tire inflation specs.

If you’re driving in extremely heavy rain, you could even deflate your Defenders all the way down to 30 PSI (don’t go any lower than 30), and just remember to reinflate them for travel at higher speeds. Generally speaking, 35-40 PSI is an acceptable tire pressure for summer use, and right around 30 PSI is useful for gaining more traction in the rain and snow.

Hydroplaning Rating: 5.0/5

Tread Life - Michelin Defender T + H

It will be hard to find tires that last longer than Michelin Defenders. Because of their evenly-distributed tread pattern that reaches all the way down to 2/32” (two thirty seconds of an inch) and long-lasting Evertread compound with high silica content, you’ll be able to get 80 thousand miles out of just one set of these bad boys.

290 million scrap tires were recorded in the year 2003 alone, and although the methods for recycling scrap tires are ever-increasing, there are many cases where tires were unnecessarily scrapped.

Treadwear longevity relies heavily on the maintenance of the user. If you want to get the most out of your tires, you’ll rotate the tires every 5k miles and keep your alignment and suspension in good shape.

Don’t forget to inflate your tires up to spec every month or so—overinflated tires will create excess wear on the middle of the tires, and underinflation will wear out the treads on the sides faster than you could imagine. Check for your vehicle manufacturer’s PSI recommendations on the inside of the driver’s door panel.

Tread Life Rating: 5.0/5

Value For Money - Michelin Defender T + H

Michelin Defenders for a couple of hundred bucks a pop? For commuters definitely. With their extremely durable tread compound, these are some of the longest-lasting tires on the market today.

From our perspective, it’s better to buy from more reputable tire companies—not only because of their access and budget when it comes to performance technology, but also because they’ll provide better warranty coverage in case something goes wrong.

Think about it, if you buy a set of cheap tires for a lower price (and no warranty), and you blow out a tire, then you’ll need to replace at least one of the tires at your cost. Not to mention the fact that tires on four-wheel-drive cars must be replaced in pairs. That means you could very easily end up spending more than the cost for high-quality tires because you didn’t want to pay the price for the quality.

They’re great tires, so we say go for it.

Value For Money Rating: 5.0/5

Final Verdict - Michelin Defender T + H

Life truly doesn’t stop moving, and you need a reliable tire that’s there to perform. We hope you liked what we had to say about these classic tires, and we hope you achieve the quality you hoped for out of them.

Want to learn how to get the most life out of your Michelin tires? Here are a few ideas:

  • Keep tires properly inflated

Every car model has different specifications for tire inflation. Check them frequently with a tire pressure gauge to maintain even tread wear.

  • Keep your spare tire inflated

It’s vital to keep your spare tire inflated at all times while driving. Always check that the spare is inflated to recommended spec during each oil change to ensure safe passage back to the tire shop if you do happen to get a flat.

  • Have a full inspection performed before tire replacement

Do you need new tires? It’s important to perform an inspection of not only your vehicle but also the previous tires placed on the vehicle to properly evaluate how to get the most life out of the next set.

  • Check tread depths regularly

Keep a tread depth measurement tool handy, and check the measurements every couple of months (or while changing the oil). When measuring tread depths on a tire, you want to measure the inside, middle and outside tread of each tire to look for inconsistencies. For example, if your front left tire’s tread is measuring 6mm on the inside tread and 8 mm on the outside tread it could mean you have a camber alignment issue.

We also want to note that no brand new tire should vibrate after installation. Aside from issues like misalignment and shot suspension, other instances that can be blamed for poor ride comfort include:

  • Incorrect tire installation (look for the ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ markings on the sidewalls)

Not all tires specify which is the inside and outside of the tire, but these Michelin Defenders do. Make sure the circled ‘outside’ print on the sidewall shows after tire installation for the best performance results.

  • Poor tire balance job (more common occurrence than you might think)

Larger tires especially are a bit harder for the technician to balance, so don’t be afraid to take it back into the shop if you feel there is a slight vibration when driving at high speeds.

  • Bent wheels

Your wheel might have bent going over that bump or turning too sharply into the curb, and this directly affects ride comfort. It doesn’t matter how new the tires are, you’re going to feel the vibration if you have a bent wheel.

  • Faulty suspension

The bad suspension will drastically reduce the life of your tires, so make sure you’re suspension doesn’t have any problems that will cause uneven and premature tread wear. Be sure to have your shocks, struts, springs, ball joints, tire rods, control arm bushings, etc., inspected before dropping the cash on a brand new set of Michelin Defenders.

Meet Your Tire Expert

Michelin Defender T + H
OVERALL rating:
Updated May 17, 2024
Quick Facts
  • Warranty 80000 Miles
  • Typical Price $110.00 - $231.00
  • Treadwear Rating 820

Tire Recall Information

Warranty & Tire Sizes

Frequently Asked Questions

Although Michelin doesn’t specify on their website, it likely stands for terrain/highway or touring/highway.

Some reviews might try and tell you that the ‘T’ and ‘H’ stand for the maximum sustainable speed (the speed rating), but that can’t be true because Defender T + H tires are ‘H’ rated for speeds of up to 130 mph according to the Michelin site.

The main difference between the LTX (it stands for light truck ‘x’ pattern) tires and T + H is that the Defender T + H are designed for sedans and crossover SUVs.

Defender LTX tires are a 10-ply all-season tires with the same basic design while these Defender T + H likely have a lighter weight rating considering the fact that they’re built more for sedans and smaller passenger cars(Michelin doesn’t specify how many plies the T + H are on their website).

Yes, when installed and inflated correctly, you’ll hear virtually zero noise coming from the tires. As previously stated in this article, there are very high chances that these are quieter than your previous tires.

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