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Tires and whether Michelin Defenders T handle as good as H rated other tieres

I have a 2015 Subaru Legacy 3.6R Limited that needs new tires. The OEM
Goodyear Eagle LS2 are not that great, I only got 29,000 miles out of them.
Because of the alloy wheels, I have heard that changing the tires too many
times wears out the rims so I am not really sure if I should get winter
tires. I live in the southern tier of NY for weather ideas. I also have never needed more
than good all seasons before.

I think that the Michelin Defenders are about the best all season. Consumer
Reports agrees. The problem is they are T speed rated and OEM is H speed
rated. Now I hardly plan to drive 100mph+ so either max speed seems fine to
me. Normally I would be concerned about the handling difference but
consumer reports claims the Defenders beat other supposedly faster speed
rated tires in their handling tests. In the past I got Goodyear tripletreads, but
they don’t make them in my car’s size. Most of the H rated tires for my car
seem to be performance / sport, so I doubt they’re great all seasons. Of course
bizarrely there are top rated winter tires, but I’m then doubling my cost for tires( at
least - with rims I’d be 3x).

So, are the Defenders safe and a good choice? The other tires I have
considered are Finnish nokian all season G3s and doing my first winter tire in
a Michelin X ice.

The issue with the Nokian’s of course is I have to go to a special shop, I can get
Defenders at Sams Club (assuming they’d install them for a really good price)…

Finally I usually trade in cars after 5 years or so, so maybe 6 more tire
swap overs in winter and summer would not wear out the alloy wheels, so then
winter rims wouldn’t be necessary, though I don’t like the added expense
of winter tires just by themselves much. However, if there really isn’t a decent
all season H speed rated tire for my car and I have to do summer performance
and winter tires, not needing rims would be nice.

My 2011 Outback 3.6R Limited came equipped with OEM Continental something-or-other Contact tires (can’t recall their exact name), which were H-rated.

Because I detested those tires so much, I replaced them early–with ~4/32 of the tread remaining–and my replacement tire of choice was the T-rated Michelin Defender.
While I can’t speak to the qualities of your OEM Goodyears, but I can tell you that the Defenders are superior in every way to the supposedly higher-rated Continentals.

Changing to Michelin Defenders produced the following types of improvement:
Reduced steering effort
Vastly improved ride quality
Better handling
Better "tracking"
Slightly lower level of road noise
Slightly improved gas mileage

I can’t say for sure whether the Defenders have better winter traction than the OEM Contis did, but I can say that I have not experienced any traction problems at all with the Defenders over the past 3 years–on dry roads, wet roads, or snowy roads.

IMO, the Michelin Defenders are the best tire that I have ever used.

In addition to looking at the Consumer Reports information, you should also look at the Tire Rack survey results (which are here for Grand Touring All-Season if I’ve entered everything correctly for your car). I can see why you weren’t impressed with the Goodyear Eagles.

Winter tires alone don’t really double your cost, as then you get longer life on your summer tires. If you decide to get separate rims, many people get steel wheels with wheel covers instead of alloy wheels, as your car probably won’t be looking that sharp in winter anyway.

A lot of people seem to overlook the factor of reduced wear on their “regular” tires because they are replaced by winter tires for several months.

When I used to buy winter tires, I didn’t even buy wheel covers. For four months each year, I managed to withstand the “disgrace” of driving a car with black-painted steel wheels.

I would just question the practice of the hassle and paying for mounting and balancing tires twice a year. Either get separate wheels or just use all season tires.

After just a couple of years, all of that remounting and rebalancing will wind up costing as much as a set of cheap steel wheels, and if one can withstand the disgrace of driving w/o wheel covers for a few months–as I was able to do–then you can save the added cost of wheel covers. Additionally, if your winter tires are mounted on their own dedicated wheels, you can install them yourself whenever it is convenient, rather than having to go to a shop.

I second the purchase of second set of steel wheels for snows. It just makes sense.

BTW, you won’t “wear out” your alloy wheels. The device to remove the tire bead doesn’t isn’t supposed to even touch the rim. Scuffs and scrapes do happen but the wheels are still usable and there are wheel paints to touch up the scuffs.

As for using T speed rated tires on a car that came with H. I personally have no heartburn with it and would not hesitate to do the same thing. The tire store may have another opinion and refuse to mount them or make you sign a waiver. The former is a problem, the latter is a formality.

Costco’s tire center–which is actually run by Michelin–did not balk at substituting T-rated tires for the OEM H-rated tires, and they did not require the signing of any waiver.

Excellent recommendation, IMHO, for Costco.

Another option is to order a set of tires mounted on rims from somewhere like TireRack and do the swap yourself.

@VDCdriver - I order my first set of snow tires on the least expensive alloy wheels. They always look nice and last forever. I found the price difference between steel wheels and the least expensive alloys (typically at is not significant, especially amortized over the life of my car (which is often 10 years or longer). I live in serious snow country (Western NY) and drive 40,000 miles a year so my knowledge of winter tires and wheels has, by necessity, become excellent.

OP had Goodyear tripletread

You’re talking about Goodyear Eagle

Completely different tires, not at all comparable

And with the low profile tire used now, sometimes no steel wheels are available.

No, I had Goodyear Eagle LS2. In the past on previous cars I would get Goodyear Tripletreads as the second set of tires. They don’t make them in the size my car uses though, so I have to look for different tires. Michelein Defenders seem the next best choice for all seasons (probably would be the best choice if not for the speed rating issue). I’m going to see if my local Sam’s Club will install the defenders when they go on sale on the 26th. If so, great, if not, I may have to do something else.

The issue with Snow tire amortization, especially rims, is I generally get new cars every 5 years or so. In this case, I have to amortize over maybe 3 years. I don’t think the math works on that vs 10 years.

I have owned a number of Defenders on three different 3 series BMWs in the household. Absolutely no complaints about the handling. Lots of complaints about defective tires. Out of the last two sets of four, two tires were found to be defective (not round) the day they were installed, and four others suffered cord separation and early failure within 30k miles. I still really like the Michelin Pilot Sports that the wife uses, but I am done with Defenders.

The vehicle in question is a Subaru with all wheel drive. Not a Corvette so it is not like it needs super handling tires. With all the buy 3 get 4 or tire rebates out there why get locked in on one brand. Every tire company has a web site and that is where I would look . If this was my vehicle I would just get all season tires that had specs that fit my needs.

I’m not surprised

I’ve had very good experience with Goodyear tripletread . . . wear evenly, long lasting

I’ve had bad experience with Goodyear eagle . . . don’t wear evenly, very short lifespan

We stock Michelin Defenders in certain sizes . . . for our fleet vehicles

I have very mixed feelings about them

They wear evenly, unlike some other brands

But they just don’t last, compared to some of the other brands

I realized everybody will have different experiences, but that doesn’t mean I’m “wrong” . . . in case anybody reading this cares to say it

As for me, I got Michelin Premier H-rated for my car, because it calls for H-rated. The T-rated Defenders would have barely been cheaper. Perhaps $15/tire . . . for that kind of pitiful savings, might as well get the correct tires

It’s not that I’m looking to save money, it’s that I’m looking for a good all season tire. If my experience is about 40k miles with a Tripletread, should I expect about the same with a defender or much less? I’m not much of a tire expert, but most of the H rated tires I’ve seen don’t seem to have as deep tread to start out with, and have names that imply sportyness more than traction etc.

i.e. when I see Performance in the name, I think shorter tire life, and less grip on snow vs a stodgy all season.

That link kind of talks about what I meant and shows both the defender, Tripletread and Nokian, though a different Nokian than I was talking about.

My friend installed the TripleTreds on his Rav-4, because he no longer wanted to buy winter tires. For the first couple of years, the TripleTreds seemed to give adequate winter traction (certainly better than the OEM Bridgestones), but after ~20k miles, the level of road noise with the TripleTreds became so loud that it was necessary to almost shout in order to carry on conversations in the car.

By that time, the winter traction had also deteriorated badly, so–at my recommendation–he replaced them with Defenders and he found improvement in every way, coupled with winter traction equivalent to the new TripleTreds. He was most impressed with a nice increase in gas mileage and a drastic reduction in noise level with the Defenders.

As to tread wear of the Defenders, I just checked my odometer mileage and used my tread depth gauge on the tires. I can report that after 23,400+ miles, my Defenders still have 8/32" of the tread remaining, which–I think–is pretty darn good. Will they make it to the claimed 90k miles? I don’t know, but because I try to err on the side of caution and to replace my tires when they get down to less than 4/32", I probably won’t find out about their mileage claim.

Because I have the exact same model as the OP (Outback Limited 3.6R), I think that my real-world experience with tread wear of the Defenders is extremely relevant. However, I also have to point out that I run the tires at 2-3 lbs higher inflation than the mfr recommends, I consistently do tire rotations at the recommended 7,500 mile intervals, and I am very careful to keep the wheels properly aligned. If I was sloppy regarding inflation, rotations, and alignment, the results would probably be nowhere near as good.