Car tires are an expensive investment when it comes time to buy them. When it comes to such expensive purchases there are often two to three camps of shoppers, those that buy cheap to save money and those that buy expensive to ensure quality. The third camp is those who aim for the middle, not too cheap but not too expensive either.
Where Michelin is well in the expensive camp, Sumitomo tires are somewhere in the middle ground when it comes to tire prices. As a general rule, you should not buy the cheapest tires on the market because you would most likely have to replace them sooner rather than later, coasting you more money in the long run. Thus, if you want to save money on buying tires, Sumitomo is a good pick.
What's In This Guide?
The Japanese company formally known as Sumitomo Rubber Industries, Ltd, was founded some 113 years ago in 1909. The company is part of the Sumitomo Group which has its roots all the way back to 1615, 407 years old.
Founded by a former Buddhist monk by the name of Masatomo Sumitomo, the company started out as a bookstore, however; Masatomo Sumitomo had great ambition and laid the groundwork for a mega-corporation. Masatomo forged the Sumitomo company philosophy which is still used today and is found in the “Founder’s Precepts.”
His teachings describe how a merchant should conduct business within his company. Though Sumitomo Rubber Industries falls under the Sumitomo Group, Sumitomo Rubber Industries also owns companies under it, all of which are tire companies.
They include Dunlop and Falken, both of which allow Sumitomo tires to benefit from more technologies. With many years of experience, Sumitomo can be trusted with producing good tires at a reasonable price.
Sumitomo Tire Families
When people see Sumitomo’s prices, they often shy away thinking that they will be of lower quality due to the cheapness. This is however untrue; Sumitomo incorporates technology and innovation such as 4D Nano Design Technology which is used to design their tires at a molecular level.
Due to their research department, they have been able to produce a tire that has an extensive range, good fuel efficiency, excellent durability, and responsive, reliable handling. All of these add up to an extremely good value for money, with only one downside.
A lot of Sumitomo’s tire benefits come from their strong and durable polyester cord body with accompanying rigid sidewalls. Because the sidewalls are so strong and rigid, the tires are not as comfortable as some other brands like Continental and indeed Michelin.
The HTR line is all about performance for passenger vehicles. There are only two tires, and they are both designed to provide optimal performance in dry weather, both when braking and cornering. That being said, the HTR Z5 is superior in cornering whereas the HTR A/S P03 is better in wet conditions and is also a more comfortable ride due to a softer tire compound.
The HTR Enhance line is comprised of three tires primarily designed for sedans and CUVs with the exception of the HTR Enhance CX2 which is designed solely for CUVs. All these tires are considered all-season grand touring tires with a long tread life with the longest being the HTR Enhance LX2 at a whopping 90,000 mile limited warranty.
There are only two tires in this line, one for passenger vehicles and one for SUVs and light trucks. They come in different speed ratings as well, which will help you pick the most cost-saving tire for you. Both are advertised as providing reactive braking, excellent dry weather handling, and a comfortable ride.
The Tour Plus tire line also only consists of two tires, however as suggested in the name, these tires are better while still being in the touring family. Once again, there is a tire for each category of vehicle. The passenger variant stands out as having an extremely long tread life with a limited warranty of 90,000 miles.
The Encounter line is only suited for SUVs and Light Trucks. Two of the three tires are mainly aimed at highway use whereas the last is Sumitomo’s all-terrain tire. Furthermore, they all come with a 60,000-mile limited warranty.
Finally, the Ice Edge is Sumitomo’s winter tire. It is a studdable winter tire designed for both SUVs and passenger vehicles. It does come with the all-important three peaks symbol, which means it has been tested by an outside party.
As the world’s second-largest tire company, Michelin is formidable, and was founded on May 28th, 1889, by brothers Édouard and André Michelin. Through the many years of Michelin’s tire existence, they have achieved many key milestones which have put them on the map.
The birth of the company is thanks to the first of these milestones because it is the reason the brothers founded Michelin tires. Before the brother’s intervention into the tire industry, if a tire was punctured and need repair, many hours would be lost.
This was because tires were glued to the rim, which lead to extremely long repair and wait times for tire repairs. The brothers had a firsthand experience of this when they took on a client that need a bicycle tire repaired.
They agreed to repair the tire and set to work. It took them 3 hours to remove the tire because of the glue. Once it was removed and repaired, they glued it back on and then had to wait many hours for the glue to dry.
Finally, the glue was dry and one of the brothers tested it out, to which the tire promptly failed. Two years later in 1891, the Michelin patent for the removable pneumatic tire was published. That same year Charles Terront won the world’s first long-distance cycle race with the removable pneumatic tire.
By 1934 Michelin introduced the run-flat-tire. Though this was an early version and not much like anything we see today, it was still an important innovation. The tire sported a special internal foam that would take the load of the vehicle if the air pressure of the tire was lost.
Today not many people use run-flat tires, nor do they see the use for them. A combination of modern-day tires and roads means that punctures are not that common. In those days, however, punctures were far more common due to road conditions and the fact that all tires were non-radial.
This was just the beginning of Michelins climb to power. In 1946 Michelin invented the radial tire. Since its inception, the radial tire has changed the tire world. The radial tire is much stronger than a non-radial tire. This is due to two design features.
First, a radial tire has a steel belt running under the tread in parallel to the direction of tire rotation. The main job of this steel belt is to provide strength and support to the treaded area, which vastly improves puncture resistance.
The second feature is the nylon fibers that run from bead assembly to bead assembly (the parts that touch the rim). These nylon fibers are sometimes called the body plies and are aligned perpendicularly to the rotation of the wheel.
The nylon fibers give both support and flexibility to the sidewalls of the tire. Because the tread and sidewalls are supported by different systems, the radial tire can make the most of both material’s properties where it is most needed.
Michelin has been such a successful company over the years, they even had their stint in the pinacol of motorsports, Formula One. The constructor’s championship was won four times with Michelin, an accomplishment most drivers don’t even achieve.
Their successes, however, were not without hardship. In 2005 Michelin tires were experiencing catastrophic failures and over half the grid protested, refusing to race on the dangerous tires. This all happened at the US Grand Prix and is now known as the US Grand Prix debacle.
After further disagreements with F1’s governing body, the FIA, Michelin decided to withdraw from F1 for good at the end of the 2006 season. Today Michelin is only second to Bridgestone. The company is extremely reputable and is advertised as using technology and innovation to make its products and services stand out.
Michelin Tire Families
With Michelin having been so much more impactful throughout the tire world, they have many more tire options to pick from. Though this can be overwhelming as you might feel as though you have too many choices, it actually means that you can pick that tire that meets your exact needs.
The four CrossClimate tires are all-season tires that are more capable in the snow than most all-season tires as they have the three peaks symbol. With their unique tread pattern, they will not only turn heads but all last a long time, especially compared to other tires that have the same winter ratings.
The Defender is Michelin’s long lasting tire that can go anywhere. Design to operate in just about any condition, these three tires all come with a warranty up to 80,000 miles. Many claim that the defender is the best long-lasting tire on the market.
These three tires are designed to improve your fuel efficiency, whether it be on the family car or a small sports car. The tires can be used all-season round and they save fuel by keeping the tire cool due to a unique silica-based rubber.
Consisting of six tires, the latitude line will provide winter, summer, and all-season tire requirements to SUV, CUV, and light truck owners. There are three basic areas which these tires cover: touring, sport, and winter.
The Primacy tire line is the all-day everyday tire from Michelin. With seven tires in the line, you can customize your pick to best fit your needs. The main goal Michelin has with this tire line is to provide safety and comfort to the user in all conditions.
The Pilot is one of Michelin’s biggest attractions. With a whopping eighteen tires in this line, you can truly optimize your vehicle’s boots in order to maximize all of its potential. Most of these are summer tires with a small amount of grooving, however, if you want some wet and wild fun or a bit of fun in the snow, the pilot line has it all.
As you can probably tell from the name, these are Michelin’s most luxurious tires. There are only two tires in the line, one for passenger cars and luxury performance cars, and the other tire is for SUVs and Crossovers. Both tires will substantially reduce road noise and provide a smooth ride.
The LTX tires are all about “bigger is better” as both tires in the line are made for light trucks and SUVs. One tire is aimed at the all-terrain experience while the other tire leans more toward commercial usage.
Finally, the X Ice is all about winter. All three tires are winter only tires. All of these tires use studless winter tire technology where the main difference is the vehicle they can be fitted to.
Differences Between Sumitomo and Michelin
For a company that isn’t talked about that much, Sumitomo held up quite well against the giant which is Michelin. Normally the differences between a smaller company like Sumitomo going up against one of the major tire companies like Michelin, Bridgestone, or Continental is quite clearly in favor of the latter.
In this case, the major difference is not performance but rather price, and it is heavily in Sumitomo’s favor. They provide good quality tires at an extremely affordable rate. In most cases Michelin will still win out in a one-on-one tire comparison, however, when it comes to value per dollar, Sumitomo actually comes out on top.
Advantages of Sumitomo
- Amazing price for what you get
- Good quality tires
- Long-lasting tires
- Easier to pick a tire because there are fewer choices
Advantages of Michelin
- Well known and easy to come by
- Excellent performance and reliability
- Long-lasting tires
- Enthusiasts have a large selection to choose from for maximum customization
Which Brand to Choose
This is a tricky one, both companies have good quality tires. Michelin has a larger selection and is easy to find. Sumitomo has a smaller selection; however, their prices are much cheaper than Michelin which really sets them apart, especially when you consider the tires are still of good quality. Sumitomo might be the best tire company I have come across that is considered affordable.