We often get asked if you can replace just one tire on your car. And, really, it depends on the situation. Here are some thoughts on what to consider before only replacing one tire and things you should keep in mind:
1. Treads on the Other Tires
To replace just one or two tires without adversely affecting performance and safety, the other tires need to have an adequate amount of tread left. If your tires are pretty new, you may be able to get away with just replacing one or two tires.
If your tires have worn down more than 4/32” difference between the new tires and old tires, you should get all new tires.
2. Type of Tire
The tread pattern and tire type that your tires have should be similar. That is, whether they’re front or rear tires, you want all your tires to be the same model and have the same or similar tread condition.
Why? Because subtle differences in tires affect their behavior—more specifically, your vehicle’s ability to accelerate, brake, corner, and handle water. You want a balanced, predictable driving experience.
3. Type of Vehicle
Is your car an all-wheel drive (AWD)? If so, most vehicle manufacturers and the Tire Industry Association (TIA) recommend that you always replace all four tires at the same time.
That’s because the reduced diameter of the lower-tread tires causes them to spin faster than the new one. Wheels moving at different speeds on an AWD vehicle will put additional strain on engine components (such as the transmission and transfer case), which could result in major damage and costly repairs. There should not be more 2/32 difference between the other tire treads.
It may be hard to believe that such a small difference can make a big impact, but even slightly mismatched tires could cause damage to the drivetrain on an AWD vehicle.
Where should you put new tires on the front or the back provided they are all the same?
If you replace one or two tires, it’s usually best to place the new tires on the rear axle since the rear tires give your vehicle stability. This will help prevent oversteering or spinning out.
No matter how many tires you choose to replace, you should always practice proper tire maintenance.
If you have other questions on tire care here is a great resource to check out from the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.