Michelin Defender T+H Review: Excellent Overall

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  • Excellent handling and braking on dry tarmac
  • Supremely responsive for a touring tire
  • High levels of traction and strong braking on wet surfaces
  • Very good hydroplaning resistance
  • One of the quietest and most comfortable touring tires around
  • Outstanding treadlife
  • Very long treadwear warranty (80,000-miles)
  • Very expensive, specifically within the category
  • Snow and ice traction aren't as impressive as the price suggests

Road safety is still one of the things that humanity needs to improve. According to annual road crash statistics, over 1.35 million people die in car crashes every day. One way that we can improve road safety is by using fresh and high-quality tires.

Sadly, that’s not easy today – many new cheap tire manufacturers seem to have sprouted from nowhere. And, in my experience, at least, these tires don’t offer reliable handling, traction, or braking, especially on slippery surfaces. For those reasons, I always recommend tires from reputable manufacturers, such as the Michelin Defender T+H.

The Defender T+H competes in a crowded sector where you can find many cheap tires from unknown manufacturers. These products undercut the Defender T+H and other premium tires almost by half, which naturally makes them an attractive proposition for buyers. Nobody knows, regrettably, that these tires aren’t safe for public roads.

I know, the Defender T+H is expensive, but that’s the case with most premium tires. What you get in return is a tire that you can fully trust in most weather conditions, and especially on dry and wet surfaces. Furthermore, my experience thus far showed that Michelin tires always have outstanding treadlife, and that’s especially true for their passenger tires.

The Defender T+H is a touring all-season tire designed for drivers of most passenger cars. The company offers the tire in many sizes, ranging from 14-inch wheel diameter to 18-inch wheel diameter. With these sizes, Michelin covers a large portion of the cars that are rolling on roads today.

And by most cars, I mean smaller city cars, compact cars, mid-size sedans, minivans, and even crossovers. The Defender T+H is not a sports tire, though. The main focus of the engineers was to provide the driver with safe and reliable traction, excellent comfort, and outstanding treadlife. This tire is not made for ultimate cornering speeds or high levels of responsiveness, so sports cars are out of the question.

The question is – what do you really get if you pay more money for a seemingly dull tire? I mean, nothing is exciting about an all-season touring tire, especially if you’re an enthusiast, right? Well, in my opinion, that’s wrong. Safety should always be our number one priority when purchasing cars or tires. Moreover, there is no price on safety!

To answer the question, you’ll need to read the whole Michelin Defender T+H review. In the text below, I’ll cover the overall performance of the tire in various weather conditions, the comfort level it provides, how long it lasts, and then give you my verdict. Of course, you can jump right to the pros and cons if you want a quick reminder of how good Michelin’s tires are.

Before we do that, though, let’s see what ingredients Michelin used in the Defender T+H to make it viable for drivers of passenger cars in North America.

“More miles. With the safety you expect. Designed for the doers, Michelin’s longest-lasting tire keeps you on the go longer – because life never stops moving” – Michelin states about the Defender T+H on its website.

The company is very proud of the treadlife that the tire offers. In its tests, Michelin says that the Defender T+H has the longest treadlife among the premium competition. That’s a powerful claim, given the fact that other companies, such as Bridgestone and Continental, also offer very durable tires.

To achieve all these things, Michelin utilized an all-season tread compound that was designed with durability and longevity in mind. The mixture has high-silica content, which helps with wet traction.

The compound is molded into an asymmetric tread pattern that was primarily engineered to be quiet and smooth. Furthermore, Michelin’s proprietary IntelliSipe technology with zigzag sipes that interlock beneath the surface increases tread block rigidity, which improves stability and cornering.

The wide circumferential grooves and lateral notches, on the other hand, effectively channel water out of the tread, thus improving hydroplaning resistance. For better snow traction, Michelin utilized independent tread blocks and zigzag sipes, which create more biting edges for traction.

The internal construction of the Defender T+H is standard for the category – it includes a single ply of polyamide that reinforces two wide steel belts. That stabilizes the tread and improves steering responsiveness. Moreover, the two-ply body casing and polyester cord bring durability and ride comfort into the mix.

What are the maintenance indicators?

Like most touring all-season tires, the Defender T+H is equipped with the industry-standard treadwear indicators, or TWI’s. These indicators are there to show the driver how much tread is left for safety and maintenance purposes.

The TWI’s are super-important for safety. Without sufficient tread depth, the tire won’t be able to channel water through the grooves, which will significantly impact wet performance. Most crucially, the hydroplaning resistance of the tire will be severely worsened. On the Michelin Defender T+H, the minimum tread depth is 2/32-inch.

The indicators are narrow rubber bars strategically placed inside the circumferential grooves of the tire. When the tire comes to 2/32-inch tread depth, the indicators will be completely flush with the surface. This is the moment when you need to replace the tires if you want to keep reliable wet traction, handling, and braking.

Fortunately, at 80,000-miles, the Defender T+H has one of the best treadwear warranties in the business. And it’s not only the warranty that is impressive – Michelin’s touring tires are always one of the longest-lasting in their respective categories. I have no doubt in my mind that the Defender T+H will last very long.

How does it behave on a dry tarmac?

Owners of passenger cars will undoubtedly be happy with how the Defender T+H handles everyday tasks. Responsiveness is excellent for a touring tire, and I was impressed by the steering feel. Sure, the tire isn’t sporty, but at least it gives the driver enough information from the road.

Moreover, I found that Defender T+H has very high levels of traction. Handling is direct and dynamic, and you can achieve high cornering speeds without worrying about losing grip. The braking distances are also among the shortest in the all-season touring category.

Overall, the Defender T+H is arguably one of the best-driving and safest touring tires right now. It communicates with the driver well, it sticks to the road great, and it brakes sharply.

How is it over wet and slippery roads?

Not that I wasn’t expecting that from a Michelin product, but the Defender T+H continues to impress on wet surfaces. The hydroplaning resistance merely is top-notch – the tire isn’t disturbed even by broad and deep standing water on the road.

Furthermore, thanks to the advanced compound with high-silica content, the tire performs very well on damp surfaces. The traction is very good, the cornering grip is secure, and the braking distances are in the top three tires in the category.

If you need a tire that will perform safely in the rain, the Defender T+H will definitely be a reliable partner.

With that being said, how is it on snowy roads?

Michelin Defender T+H Review

I’ve never been a fan of how all-season tires handle extreme snow conditions, and the Defender T+H won’t do anything to change my mind. The tire does provide reliable traction and braking on light snow, provided you drive very carefully.

However, you can get the same traction from much cheaper all-season tires, which is why I wouldn’t rate the Defender T+H so highly here. Besides, if you live in areas with harsh wintry conditions, you will probably want to move to winter tires when the time comes.

Is it suitable for off-road driving?

The Defender T+H isn’t designed for off-road driving, although some sizes can be fitted on crossovers. You can use it on hardpacked surfaces, sure, but you risk damaging the tread of the tire. Moreover, you won’t have reliable traction, specifically on hills.

Is it comfortable and refined?

You bet it is. Michelin’s engineers always knew how to make a tire ride well, and they seem to overachieved with the Defender T+H.

The ride quality of the tire is super-plush, even on some very rough and uneven roads. Also, this is one of the quietest all-season touring tires – it’s almost silent at urban speeds.

So, if comfort is what you ask for, then you won’t be disappointed by the Defender T+H.

You can see more Michelin Defender T+H Review here: Video created by AGreedyTree

Should I buy the Michelin Defender T+H?

Well, let me put it this way – if you want an extra-safe tire that is also super-comfortable and durable, then you should buy the Defender T+H. I know the price might scare you, but there is a reason why Michelin charges so much for its products – they are excellent. Besides, the Defender T+H will last so long that it will pay for itself in the long run. Highly recommended!

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