Michelin Defender Tire Problems (Explained)

Michelin Defender tires are an all-season product manufactured by Michelin.

The tire is used for many different vehicle types, including small SUVs, light-duty trucks, and passenger cars.

While these tires are typically top-rated, they do have some problems worth noting.

Michelin Defender tires come with an impressive 80,000-mile warranty, yet they are also known to wear out prematurely around the 40,000-mile mark. Some also experience tread separation and sidewall separation that quickly leads to bubbles forming. Tire wander might be the mildest problem with these tires, with rare tire blowouts being the most severe.

Michelin Defender tires are high-quality products from a world-renowned brand.

Still, this guide will help you understand their problems and what you can do about them.

What Problems Do Michelin Defender Tires Have?

Michelin Defender tires are generally well-built. So, even if the likelihood of problems is relatively small, there are still some that customers have experienced and aren’t too happy about.

Here are the problems that some Michelin Defender tires have:

#1 Premature Wear

One of the main selling points of Michelin Defender tires is their durability. In addition, Defender T+H tires come with an 80,000-mile warranty to back up their claim of exceptionally long service life.

The LTX M/S variant is backed up with a 50,000 or 70,000-mile warranty (depending on the speed rating).

However, there have been many reports of Michelin Defender tires wearing out even before they reach the 50,000-mile mark.

That can be pretty disappointing for anyone who decided to invest in them for their supposedly long lifespan.

More importantly, it could also pose a risk to drivers who don’t keep a close eye on the tread wear on their Defender tires.

Here is a quick comparison table of the LTX’s Off-Road, Comfort, and Treadwear ratings in the Highway All-Season category provided by Tire Rack.

Tire% vs. Best In CategoryOff-RoadComfort Treadwear
Bridgestone Duravis R500 HD91%7.3 / 10.08.9 / 10.09.7 / 10.0
Michelin Agilis CrossClimate100%8.5 / 10.08.9 / 10.09.2 / 10.0
Michelin Defender LTX M/S99%8.2 / 10.09.1 / 10.09.0 / 10.0
Continental TerrainContact H/T98%7.9 / 10.09.0 / 10.09.1 / 10.0
Firestone Destination LE398%7.6 / 10.09.1 / 10.09.1 / 10.0
Kumho Crugen HT5197%8.2 / 10.08.8 / 10.08.7 / 10.0
Michelin LTX M/S295%7.7 / 10.09.0 / 10.08.8 / 10.0
Cooper Discoverer HT394%7.9 / 10.08.6 / 10.08.5 / 10.0
Sumitomo Encounter HT94%8.1 / 10.08.3 / 10.08.8 / 10.0
General Grabber HTS 6093%8.0 / 10.08.5 / 10.08.6 / 10.0
Yokohama Geolandar G91FV92%7.2 / 10.08.4 / 10.08.2 / 10.0
Source: Tire Rack

What you can do about it: Unfortunately, you can’t fix premature wear once it has already happened. That’s because the tire has already lost its tread depth, and there’s nothing you can do to add to it.

However, you can take plenty of steps to minimize wear from the moment you fix those tires on your vehicle.

For example, you should check your tire’s air pressure and inspect its overall condition every two weeks.

That way, you’ll ensure the tire always has the correct air pressure, and you’ll know if your tire is wearing out prematurely.

#2 Sidewall Separation And Bubbles

Another problem that some Michelin Defender tires experience is a separation of the sidewall.

When that happens, air from within the tire will leak into the tire’s body, causing a bubble to form. 

Not only are tire bubbles unsightly, but they can also pop if they grow too large.

Generally, sidewall separations and bubbles happen when a tire is underinflated and experiences a blunt force. 

For example, an underinflated tire might hit a rock or a curb, damaging the tire and causing this entire problem.

However, the same can also happen due to a manufacturing defect. In simple terms, defective materials used to make the sidewall can break even if the Defender tire suffers no damage.

This problem does not seem widespread, so it might be an isolated issue that only happens with specific batches of Michelin Defender tires.

What you can do about it: Tires that have bubbles are not safe to drive at all. Remember: the bubble is there because the tire has lost its structural integrity.

So, switch it out with a spare before you drive to your tire dealer to get a replacement.

#3 Tread Separation

Aside from the sidewall, the treads on Michelin Defender tires have also been known to separate.

The tread of the Michelin Defender tire is the outer layer. It’s the part visible to you with grooves and other designs that come into direct contact with the road. 

The tread wraps around another part of the tire called the body or casing. Despite being two separate parts, they are attached and are meant to stay together at all times.

Shockingly, there are cases of Michelin Defender tire treads separating from the body entirely. 

That will happen when the bond is compromised due to manufacturing defects or excess wear.

What you can do about it: Tire tread separation on your Michelin Defender tires is another problem that cannot be repaired.

However, you should bring the tire to your dealer as soon as possible to see what options you have to replace it.

Tires that are well within your warranty period could be replaced for free. However, check with your dealer first to see what you’re entitled to.

#4 Tire Wander

When tires are balanced and aligned correctly, they allow a vehicle to move forward in a straight line even when the driver lets go of the wheel. 

However, tires can also cause the car to pull to the left or the right, in a phenomenon known as ‘tire wander’ or ‘steering wander’.

Some Michelin Defender tires cause tire wander despite being correctly aligned and balanced. This problem happens when tires are mismatched, in that some are causing more rolling resistance than others.

All Michelin Defender tires should naturally produce the same rolling resistance unless some are defective.

What you can do about it: Firstly, you must check your vehicle for correct alignment.

The tires could cause this problem, but you’ll want to rule out poor wheel alignment first.

If your tires cause the problem, you should have them replaced immediately.

#5 Tire Blowout

Tire blowouts are rare, even with the Michelin Defender. But they still happen in worst-case scenarios, and drivers should be aware of their possibility, however remote.

Tire blowouts can happen when sidewall separations and bubbles become too severe, as the tire no longer has structural integrity.

What you can do about it: As you might imagine, you can’t fix a tire blowout because the tire is no longer salvageable.

However, if a tire blowout happens while you’re driving, here’s how you can respond:

  • Stay calm: Easier said than done, of course, but try to breathe and focus on what needs to be done
  • Don’t brake: Resist the natural instinct to slam on your brakes, as that will cause you to lose control of your vehicle.
  • Keep your car going straight: Accelerate a little bit and hold the wheel to ensure your vehicle is moving straight ahead.
  • Slow by decelerating (not braking): Next, slow your vehicle down by letting go of the gas pedal. Again, do not hit the brakes.
  • Warn others: Let other road users know you’re in trouble by turning on your hazard lights.
  • Gently pull over: Look for a safe place to pull over and gently turn your wheel in that direction (i.e., left or right). Once your vehicle comes to a complete stop, call for a tow truck.

Michelin Defender LTX Warranty Compared to Similar Tires

TireWarranty
Michelin Agilis CrossClimate6 Years / Free replacement first year, 2/32” or 25% of wear, then prorated until 2/32” remaining dept
Michelin Defender LTX M/S50,000 – 70,000 miles
Continental TerrainContact H/T60,000 – 70,000 miles
Firestone Destination LE370,000 miles
Kumho Crugen HT5145,000 – 75,000 miles
Michelin LTX M/S250,000 – 70,000 miles
Cooper Discoverer HT350,000 miles
Sumitomo Encounter HT60,000 miles
General Grabber HTS 6045,000 miles
Yokohama Geolandar G91FV5 Years / Free replacement first year or 2/32” of wear, then prorated to 2/32” remaining depth
Source: Discount Tire and Tire Rack

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here are a few more questions and answers you’ll find helpful in understanding Michelin Defender tires:

Are Michelin Defender Tires Any Good?

Yes, Michelin Defender tires are highly rated for comfort, stability, and more. While some tires do have problems, they don’t seem to be very widespread.

Is There A Recall On Michelin Defender Tires?

No, there are no recalls on Michelin Defender tires. However, other Micheline tire models have experienced recalls in the US and Canada, such as some Michelin Pilot Sport tires.

Are Michelin Defender Tires Good In Snow?

Yes, Michelin Defender tires perform exceptionally well in snow with strong resistance to hydroplaning and excellent snow traction.

You can see the Defender LTX compared to similar tires in the Highway All-Season category by Tire Rack.

Tire% vs. Best In CategoryWinter / Snow
Michelin Agilis CrossClimate100%8.6 / 10.0
Michelin Defender LTX M/S99%8.3 / 10.0
Continental TerrainContact H/T98%8.1 / 10.0
Firestone Destination LE398%8.5 / 10.0
Kumho Crugen HT5197%8.4 / 10.0
Michelin LTX M/S295%7.8 / 10.0
Cooper Discoverer HT394%7.5 / 10.0
Sumitomo Encounter HT94%8.0 / 10.0
General Grabber HTS 6093%7.4 / 10.0
Yokohama Geolandar G91FV92%7.9 / 10.0
Source: Tire Rack

How Many Miles Do Michelin Defender Tires Last?

Michelin Defender tires come with a mileage warranty by Michelin of 90,000 miles.

On top of that, Consumer Reports has confirmed 90,000-mile expected mileage through their testing.

Are Michelin Defenders Noisy?

No, Michelin Defender tires generally receive exemplary ratings for minimizing road noise.

Sources

https://www.tirerack.com/tires/surveyresults/surveydisplay.jsp?type=HAS&sortValue=1#ratingsSort

https://www.discounttire.com