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Old 03-22-2012, 04:16 PM   #1
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LRR tire advice: Michelin Defender or Sumitomo HTR T4

My '95 Civic DX hatchback with VX tranny will be needing new tires within the next 8k to 10k miles as my Sumitomo HTR T4 tires, size 175/70/13, are almost worn out. Researching LRR tire options, I found that Michelin just came out with the Defender, a new LRR tire that's available in 175/70/13. So I've narrowed my decision to the Sumitomo and the Michelin.

Sumitomo pros:
1) I already know it's a LRR tire from 85k miles of ownership.
2) Available in 165/70/13 (the correct size for my DX with the VX tranny) in case I don't want to use a 4% correction factor for the larger 175/70/13 tire's fewer revolutions per mile. A shorter tire also lowers the vehicle height, producing less drag.
3) Light weight: only 14 lbs for 165/70/13 and 15 lbs for 175/70/13
4) 560AB UTQG rating. 85k miles is a lot from a 560 tire. I don't believe the "A" traction rating based on my experience with the tires.

Sumitomo cons:
1) I hated the tires from day one for its poor traction in all conditions, especially wet, ice and snow. It's not an "A" traction tire in my experience.

Michelin Defender pros:
1) Better handling in all conditions per Michelin' marketing info (I'm hoping anyway)
2) Has Michelin's "Green X" label that specifies it as a LRR tire, so perhaps better fuel economy than the Sumitomo?
3) 820AB UTQG rating.

Michelin cons:
1) Weighs 18 lbs (!!!)
2) Not sure if Michelin's LRR label really translates into lower, or equally low, rolling resistance as the Sumitomo.
3) $8.50 and $10.50 more per tire than the Sumitomo HTR T4 size 175/70/13 and 165/70/13 respectively (from TireRack).

My questions are:

1) If the Defender has lower rolling resistance than the Sumotimo, could that be negated by the 3 or 4 lbs per tire of additional rotating mass tire of the Defender (depending on whether I chose the 165 or 175 Sumi)?
2) Does anyone who has owned other Michelin tires with Michelin's specific "Green X" LRR label have any feedback about their LRR properties?

Michelin is offering a $70 rebate on all purchases through 3/24/12, so it's a good time to buy a set of Defenders if I want to try them.

My other option is to use the 185/65/14 Nokian i3 tires from my wrecked '98 Civic HX instead of buying new tires. My only concern with this is the 4% larger circumference than the current 175/70/13 tires (which are already 4% larger circumference than the correct size 165/70/13 tire) which will make the gears even taller and more mis-matched to the power curve of the DX engine, making the drivability even worse.
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Old 03-22-2012, 04:43 PM   #2
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Re: LRR tire advice: Michelin Defender or Sumitomo HTR T4

I have Michelin X Radials installed recently at Costco (Harmony/Destiny clones iirc), from last fall. So far, so good. Not a LRR tire but solid on the stock 13" aluminum alloy wheels. If I could have the best of both worlds, I would have gone for the HTR T4's for the smaller size + increased headroom for more tire pressure, at least from a peace of mind standpoint on this older suspension, etc.

Traction is great, as far as I can tell, but it is a bit harder of a tread. Road noise is of a lower tone than previous tread, but still road noise. What can you do with these Civics? lol. I haven't looked into replacing the bushings for the rear trailing arm or any lateral links(if any, maybe rear?) or the control arm bushings, but noise isn't ideal still.

About to perform the first rotation, will be looking for any irregular wear.
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Old 03-22-2012, 05:20 PM   #3
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Re: LRR tire advice: Michelin Defender or Sumitomo HTR T4

Quote:
Originally Posted by cems70 View Post
Sumitomo cons:
1) I hated the tires from day one for its poor traction
All the other concerns fell away when I read this. Bad traction, and you hate them. That's more than enough to make buying them again a non-starter.
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Old 03-22-2012, 05:49 PM   #4
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Re: LRR tire advice: Michelin Defender or Sumitomo HTR T4

The rolling resistance isn't going to be much difference between the two, and the different size only translates into a 7 mm taller tire, so less than a centimeter taller profile for your vehicle.... change in drag will be negligible.

The weight difference would be my biggest area of concern, but that is negated by your complaints about traction. Has the tire rack or any other independent site tested the Michelin yet? Just looking at the tread on the two, I would think the Michelin would give better traction, and that extra 10mm of width would help too, but you are going to be losing some of your gain in FE... LRR tires always seem to get slightly worse traction though.
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Old 03-22-2012, 07:05 PM   #5
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Re: LRR tire advice: Michelin Defender or Sumitomo HTR T4

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Originally Posted by FIND View Post
The weight difference would be my biggest area of concern, but that is negated by your complaints about traction. Has the tire rack or any other independent site tested the Michelin yet? Just looking at the tread on the two, I would think the Michelin would give better traction, and that extra 10mm of width would help too, but you are going to be losing some of your gain in FE... LRR tires always seem to get slightly worse traction though.
I haven't found any independent tests of the Defender. How did you arrive at an extra 10mm tread width on the Michelin? TireRack's specs are missing the tread width info. Here's Michelin's explanation of their "Green X" LRR label:
"The application of the Green X symbol is determined by laboratory testing on a model-by-model, size-by-size basis. It is Michelin's guarantee that the tire provides a level of energy efficiency among the highest in the market for its category without compromising other key characteristics, such as traction and tread wear."

So to me that means the Sumitomo could be a much more fuel efficient LRR tire, even if traction and handling aren't as good as the Michelin.
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Old 03-22-2012, 07:48 PM   #6
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Re: LRR tire advice: Michelin Defender or Sumitomo HTR T4

165/70/13 vs 175/70/13: The first is 165mm wide, the second is 175mm wide. That's what that first number is. The second number is height as a percentage of width.

The 5mm difference in width equals a 3.5mm (70% of 5) difference in height from rim to edge; *2 for actual diameter equals 7mm diameter difference.

The numbers are all nominal and actual measurements may vary between manufacturers but they're worthwhile for basic comparison.
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Old 03-23-2012, 05:33 AM   #7
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Re: LRR tire advice: Michelin Defender or Sumitomo HTR T4

Go with the Michelins. If you hate the tracton of the Sumos, don't get them again. All the weight savings in the world won't help you if you crash into something in the rain/snow.

I also had Michelin Destiny tires on my VX. I loved them. I averaged in the mid 50 mpg range with them. I had several tanks into the 60s, and one of 77 mpg. The Destiny tires were not LRR, but they behaved like they were. They also had great grip. I was also showing only 25-30% wear after 40,000 miles!!! I have the same Michelin Destiny tires on my Del Sol (175/70/13), and they are awesome.
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Old 03-23-2012, 07:53 PM   #8
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Re: LRR tire advice: Michelin Defender or Sumitomo HTR T4

^I have the X-radial labeled version of the Destiny/Harmony style tire. Great so far.

Fetch, what PSI did you typically run while using this tire on your VX?
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Old 03-23-2012, 08:12 PM   #9
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Re: LRR tire advice: Michelin Defender or Sumitomo HTR T4

When in doubt, always go with the Michelins.
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Old 03-24-2012, 03:54 AM   #10
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Re: LRR tire advice: Michelin Defender or Sumitomo HTR T4

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Originally Posted by add|ct View Post
^I have the X-radial labeled version of the Destiny/Harmony style tire. Great so far.

Fetch, what PSI did you typically run while using this tire on your VX?
44. I dropped it down to around 38-40 for the winter. With the narrow Michelin "pizza cutters" installed, that VX was never stopped in the snow. I have pushed snow with the front bumper for 1/4 mile before I got to a plowed road. Excellent winter traction. The outside tread blocks are open, not attached to each other by a narrow band of rubber. (Some tires link the outside tread blocks together as a sound barrier, but it kills the traction in snow.)
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