With over one hundred years of experience manufacturing tires of varying descriptions, Michelin is known around the world for innovative and quality products. In Canada, the LTX Mud and Snow tire would be one such product that has a loyal following.
The LTX M/S2 is Michelin’s All-Season light truck tire developed for vans, pickups and sport utility vehicles, as well as for commercial vans, shuttles and chassis cab vehicles using light truck tire sizes. The LTX M/S2 is designed to combine a smooth, quiet ride with year-round traction.
The tire’s internal structure includes twin steel belts (three steel belts in Load Range D and Load Range E sizes) to provide the strength and durability needed to handle heavy loads and provide puncture resistance. “The contractors like that,” proudly states Steve Dutile, Michelin Representative.
New silica tread compounds, four wide circumferential channels, multiple lateral grooves and open shoulders combine to deliver shorter stops than the competitors’ tires in wet weather. With more than 8% more biting edges, this tire delivers better snow traction than the original Michelin® LTX M/S tire. A symmetric tread design of stable independent tread blocks featuring high-density 3-D Active Sipes delivers traction in inclement weather. Wow!
The promotional material provided many claims of improvement for the re-designed tire, but even so, I remained somewhat skeptical. So when an opportunity presented itself to test a set of the LTX M/S² tires, I eagerly signed on the dotted line to see if the product could live up to the numerous promises.
By the time the 2010 Nissan Frontier 4X4 pickup test truck made its way into my hands, the weather was clear and warm. I was disappointed. Seriously, how valuable is a mud and snow tire test on dry pavement? Those initial conditions held no clue as to what awaited down the road.
I decided the foothills of Southern Alberta would offer the ideal area in which to give these tires a thorough test. The conditions encountered would simulate most driving conditions that an average sport utility or pickup owner might experience. The day started out overcast, the weather unthreatening.
The first leg of the journey was 100 km of combined city and highway driving. The LTX tires offer a quiet, smooth ride on the highway. Tire noise was negligible. The second leg of the journey was westward, off the beaten path – so far off the beaten path, my co-pilot stated numerous times, “We are lost”.
The foray through the wilderness provided ample opportunity to evaluate the traction of these tires on gravel roads and medium-packed dirt surfaces. I did find some and wet and soft sections of road, and the Michelins performed well. I did discover the tires don’t clear out the mud in the same fashion as a dedicated tire. Mild mud is manageable, but if the path takes you through deep mud on a daily basis, these are not the tires for you.
As I continued heading west toward the Rocky Mountains, the cloud cover got thicker. Before long, big wet snow flakes were falling, and the road conditions were deteriorating. Further travel yielded 10 cm of fresh snow over top of the gravel road bed. So far so good – the tires were still working well… Another quip from the passenger’s seat, “I think we are really lost now!”
With whiteout conditions hindering further progress, I turned around and followed the tire tracks back to the main forestry trunk road and headed north. Soon enough, we were back on pavement, albeit snow-covered. Traction was still excellent, and the drive uneventful. I drove out of the snow storm and back on to wet asphalt, with a false sense that testing day was over.
It was only a matter of minutes before the storm caught up, and Mother Nature released yet another salvo upon the Michelin-equipped Nissan. Copious quantities of hail and snow dropped within 15 minutes… Have you ever pondered the coefficient of friction of a sea of marbles upon a skating rink? I was filled with apprehension as I aimed south toward Calgary. The driving conditions were downright treacherous. But thankfully, the Michelin’s traction remained relatively unaffected, even in those extreme conditions.
For the record, I put 700 km on these tires, approximately 250 of which were logged off paved roadways. Perhaps some long-term testing is in order, but I can state with confidence that these tires deliver traction as promised, on a wide variety of surfaces. Given Canada’s harsh and often unpredictable weather patterns, consider Michelin’s LTX M/S² line-up for your next set of light truck tires.