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Tire Replacement: Should I Go For One Or All?

by Dutch Silverstein December 8, 2016

One debate that has raged on between car owners across the country involves the care of your vehicle’s tires. Over time and depending on how much and how hard you drive, you’ll need to replace the tires as their tread wears out and they become less and less safe and usable. Should you notice that one of your tires is losing tread and wearing out, there are some drivers and mechanics that suggest simply just changing that one old tire while others wear that no matter which tire is showing the signs of wear, you should side with caution and change all four tires at once.

While there is no definitive answer to which way is the proper method for replacing your tires, there are important factors to consider before changing even one tire.

  • If you only replace two tires, put them on the rear– This may go against conventional wisdom or popular choice but if you decide on only replacing two tires at a time, place the newer tires with more tread on the rear of the vehicle. The rear tires control the handling of your car much more than the front tires do. If you were to put old and worn tires on the rear and then hit a puddle or dip, your vehicle could very easily lose control as the balding tires become extremely slick.
  • Consider your vehicle’s handling– If your vehicle is an all-wheel or front-wheel drive car, then all four tires should be changed at once. In these vehicles, the tread and shape of the tires is critical and keeping them all the same is important to avoid any potential handling and traction issues. Having various tire sizes on these cars can also lead to performance issues as different tires will have different RPM rates when driving. Inconsistent speeds on each tire can cause extra stress on specific areas of your vehicle and also make handling and driving harder than it should be.
  • Rotate your current tires frequently to extend their life– If you’re on a budget and trying to either purchase just two tires or avoid buying tires altogether, rotating your tires will help keep tread wear even throughout all four tires. If you choose to go this route, be sure to rotate your tires between every 3,000-5,000 miles or, about every time you have your vehicle’s oil changed.
  • Not all tire brands have the same size– Sometimes when trying to cut the cost of buying brand new tires, drivers pick one or two of a different brand than what’s on their car currently, usually because they’re offered at a lower price. While this is understandable, it’s extremely ill advised as most tire companies have different measurements, even for the same sized tire. Each company’s product will have a specific part number and SKU and will likely be produced to a slightly different measurement. Having two separate brands on your vehicle at once can mean you’re driving with two different RPMs from your front and rear tires, which can lead to issues with your handling or vehicle performance.
  • Consult your manual– In some instances; if you’re unsure of whether your vehicle needs two or four tires replaced, you can consult your vehicle’s manual. Some manufacturers will explicitly state that you shouldn’t just change one or two tires and that all four must be changed at once. In higher end luxury vehicles such as BMW and Mercedes-Benz, following the specific maintenance plan is crucial to ensuring that your vehicle stays performing at its’ peak level. In most brand cars it isn’t that extreme a situation but regardless, consulting your manual may help make deciding between two or four tires an easier task.

Mechanic Taking Out New Tire

Conclusion

As you can see, there are numerous factors to consider when it comes to changing your tires but the most important thing to remember is the condition of your tires. If you take precautions such as closely checking the wear and condition of the tread of your tires and rotating them frequently to make sure they’re wearing evenly, while avoiding combining different brands then there’s less of a chance of you absolutely needing to change all four at once if your budget won’t allow it.

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