Nitto Vs Michelin Tires: The Main Differences

Last Updated February 3, 2023

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Many people won’t think twice when asked to choose between Nitto and Michelin tires. After all, Nitto is a relatively unknown brand when compared to Michelin, the French tire behemoth with offices in over 100 countries and annual sales to the tune of billions of dollars.

Nitto Vs Michelin Tires The Main Differences

Nitto Rating: 4.3/5

4.3/5

Michelin Rating: 4.8/5

4.8/5

Aside from its stellar reputation and eye-watering revenues, there is another thing that gives Michelin an edge. The French tire manufacturer uses cutting-edge construction materials and latest technologies in its models, cementing its status as the pre-eminent tire maker.

However, the above qualities won’t amount to much if you’re on a budget. Anyone who has ever bought a tire could attest that Michelin tires cannot be any more expensive than they already are, giving light-pocketed drivers enough reason to at least look for alternatives.

That is why we have come up with this article. Apart from highlighting the primary differences between Nitto and Michelin tires, we’ll discuss the histories of these tire brands. Next, we’ll directly compare the two tire manufacturers on multiple counts. Read on for more.

Nitto Tires History

Nitto Tires was founded in Itami, Japan, in 1949, a time when many other Japanese tire brands were ready to take off and exploit the world’s booming demand for radials. However, unlike many of its country mates, Nitto didn’t always have smooth sailing.

In fact, it would be safe to say that the company has lurched from one near-disaster to another in its 70-odd-year history. The most famous of which is the 1979 episode, which grew so worse that Toyo (Nitto’s previous competitor) had to rescue this tire brand.

Yet, while it’s true that Nitto didn’t enjoy a meteoric rise in the global tire market, a glance at its social media accounts tells a different story. Currently, Nitto is one of the most popular tire manufacturers on Facebook, with a global fan base of around 11 million.

At the time of writing, Nitto tires have offices in six major destinations worldwide. These include the US, China, Malaysia, Japan, and the European Union. The company sells different kinds of performance tires, as well as off-road and luxury models around the world.

Nitto Tires Families

Unlike many tire brands, which categorize their tires based on road/weather conditions. Nitto sorts its tire lineup based on the vehicles they are designed to go on. Hence the reason we’ll be discussing Nitto’s light truck, competition, and passenger car tires.

Light Truck

Nitto classifies its light truck tires into three categories:

  • All-Terrain: Two well-regarded models complete Nitto’s all-terrain lineup. These include the Terra Grappler G2, a tire that can keep things stable on dirt and pavement, as well as the more off-road capable Recon Grappler AT.
  • Highway-Terrain: There is only one tire in Nitto’s H/T lineup. That is the Dura Grappler, a commercial-grade radial meant to go on SUVs and trucks. So, passenger car owners looking for highway tires need to look elsewhere.
  • Mud-Terrain: All three of Nitto’s mud-terrain tires – Trail Grappler, Mud Grappler, and Ridge Grappler – have the distinctive rubber-to-void ratio that leaves no doubt in the onlooker’s mind as to what kind of conditions they’re designed for.

Passenger Tires

There are three sub-categories of Nitto’s passenger tires:

  • All-Season: Comprising only two tires – Motivo and Neo Gen – Nitto’s all-season family lags Michelin’s in terms of treadwear warranty, road manners, and fuel economy. But they do cost less upfront.
  • Summer High-Performance: Eager to push your sedan to its limits on the highway? Consider the NT555 G2. Conversely, if you own a dedicated muscle car, the Nitto INVO might prove to be a better bet.
  • Max Performance: If you have looked at Nitto’s summer high-performance tires and thought that you’d want something even more performance-oriented, the Nitto NT05 might just have what you’re looking for.
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Competition Tires

Nitto has divided its competition tires into two categories:

  • O.T. Compliant Competition Drag Radial: These tires have been designed to meet safety standards set by Department of Transportation for use on public roads. However, they aren’t recommended for daily use and should only be used on the track day.
  • O.T. Compliant Competition Course Radial: In contrast to the above category of tires, which are designed specifically for drag racing, these tires can also handle the stresses and high loads of track driving.

Michelin Tires History

Michelin Tires was founded by two French brothers in the late 19th century. The Michelin siblings’ main goal was to create a replaceable bicycle tire. Apart from smashing that goal, they laid the foundation of the company that raked in 20.5 billion euros in revenue in 2021.

A few years after manufacturing the world’s first replaceable bicycle tire, Michelin decided to expand its horizons. At that time, the automotive market was in its infancy, giving the French tire maker the perfect opportunity to try and become the world’s leading tire supplier.

That isn’t to say that Michelin was given a clear path to the summit of the global tire market. On the contrary, It faced intense competition from the likes of Continental and Hankook. This gave birth to a rivalry that continues to this day, especially with Continental Tires.

However, as anyone who can read numbers might tell, Michelin currently looks down on every tire manufacturer, bar none. Apart from becoming a household name in the US, its adopted country, its tires can currently be seen on the roads of over 100 countries.

Michelin Tire Families

Six categories of tires complete Michelin’s tire lineup. These include Pilot, Primacy, Latitude, Defender, and Energy. Let’s discuss them one by one.

Pilot

What could you expect from a tire belonging to Michelin’s Pilot series? Think of exceptional high-speed stability, superb steering feedback and performance, and top-of-the-line cornering grip. Regardless of which Pilot tire you may pick, all these qualities are a given.

Following tires complete Michelin’s Pilot family:

  • Summer (passenger cars) : Michelin Pilot Sport 4 and Pilot Sport 4S
  • Summer (SUVs and crossovers): Michelin Sport 4 SUV
  • All-Season: Michelin Sport A/S and Michelin All-Season 4
  • Performance Winter: Michelin Alpin

Primacy

All-season touring tires complete Michelin’s Primacy family. These models offer excellent road manners and back them up with extended treadwear warranties. Their fuel economies are equally excellent, helping these tires offset their initial astronomical asking prices.

Not every Primacy tire prefers ride comfort over performance, though. Take the example of Primacy HP and Primacy 3. In contrast to the likes of Primacy Tour A/S and Primacy MXM4, these two models offer the kind of grip you’d expect from performance-oriented models.

Premier

Although there are multiple tires in this family, two are more popular than others.

The first of which is the Premier LTX, a reliable all-season tire for passenger cars. Backed by a decent, though not excellent 60,000-mile treadwear warranty, this tire is one of the most comfortable and quietest you can find on the market. So go for it if you like serene rides.

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Then there is the Premier A/S. While it has a similar tread compound to the Premier LTX, this model is far more expensive. 

Latitude

If one word could be used to describe Michelin’s Latitude series, it has to be diversity. That is because this family houses almost every tire sub-category under the sun, including all-season, all-season touring, performance, and even winter tires.

Bear in mind, though, that the Latitude tires only serve the SUV and CUV crowd. As such, you’re out of luck if you’re a passenger, sports, or muscle car driver.

Defender

What happens when cutting-edge construction materials meet latest technologies? A good example is Michelin’s Defender tires. Both tires in this family – Defender T+H and Defender LTX M/S – are the epitome of why Michelin sits atop the global automotive tire market.

As you might guess, both these tires aren’t competing with each other. While the Defender T+H is aimed to please the passenger car, coupe, CUV, and SUV driving crowd. The Defender LTX M/S aims to entice drivers of light trucks and commercial vehicles.

Energy

Given the rising demand and adoption of electric and hybrid vehicles, Michelin’s Energy family could potentially be the tire brand’s most important in the coming decades. However, at the time of writing, it attracts far fewer sales than any other Michelin tire family.

Nitto Vs Michelin Tires: Differences

Here are the major differences between Nitto and Michelin tires:

Performance

Nitto and Michelin both offer a wide variety of performance and high-performance tires.

Nitto tires are renowned for their super-soft tread compounds, aggressive tread patterns, and strong performance in track settings. In contrast, Michelin tires are famous for their exceptional handling and high-speed stability on both the track and the road.

As such, if you’re searching for a performance tire designed for regular roads, Michelin might prove to be a better bet. However, if you’ll only be using the performance tire on race days, a compatible model from Nitto might be able to provide better value for your money.

Availability

Michelin is a clear winner as far as availability is concerned.

Not only does Michelin offer tires for almost every road and weather condition, but there also isn’t any vehicle on the road that cannot be fitted with a model from this tire brand. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, given the revenues the company brings in year after year.

To give you an example of how easy it’s to find a Michelin tire for your vehicle, consider the Michelin Primacy MXM4, a model which is available in 57 different sizes. The same is true for the Premier A/S, which comes in 40+ sizes (15-20 inches).

Price and Warranty

Nitto tires are nowhere near as pricey as their counterparts from Michelin.

However, when it comes to the warranty department, Michelin once again leads the line, albeit not by much. We’re saying that because rival models from the likes of Cooper and Continental regularly come with bigger treadwear warranties than Michelin’s models.

Advantages of Michelin

  • Large number of touring and all-season tires
  • Exceptional driving comfort
  • Features cutting-edge technologies

Advantages of Nitto

  • Weigh less heavy on the pocket
  • Superb performance and max-performance tire

Nitto Vs Michelin Tires: Which Brand to Choose?

If you want class-leading fuel economy, excellent road manners, and decent treadwear warranties, Michelin tires are a no-brainer, provided you can afford to pay their astronomical asking prices.

However, if you’re on a tight budget and/or looking for dedicated performance tires that can help you win races on the track, Nitto tires may prove to be a better bet.

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