Mixing Tires – Bad Idea

February 25th, 2016

In a perfect world, all four tires would wear out at the same time. In the same perfect world, everyone would be able to afford a whole set of tires all at once. Unfortunately, things often just do not work out that way. 

Sometimes you may just have to replace tires as you can afford them, one or two at a time, but there are some important things to bear in mind if you have to do that. 

If you can only afford to replace one or two tires, it’s essential that you go with tires that are identical (or at least as close as possible) to the car’s remaining tires. That means that internal construction, size, tread pattern and design should be close to the same. Don’t mix winter tires with all-season tires, don’t mix run-flat tires with standard tires, for instance. But why?

Tires are all designed for different handling properties and traction, and are intended to work together as a set. Mixing sizes, tread patterns and designs can mean a car that has unpredictable, jittery, “squirrelly” handling, braking and roadholding properties, and that can be downright dangerous in a panic stop or other emergency situation.

If you have to replace a pair of tires and decide on the same brand and model as the others, the new tires should go on the rear. That might seem counterintuitive to some, but consider this; if you mount the new tires on the front and end up on wet pavement, the new tires will easily disperse the water while the rear tires can hydroplane.

Remember that the minimum tread depth for tires, by state law, is 2/32”. At 2/32”, you should be able to plainly see the wear bars that are molded at a right angle in the base of the tread grooves. If you’re in doubt, insert a penny into the tread grooves, Lincoln head down. If the tread reaches the top of Lincoln’s head, your tread is 2/32” deep. Try again with a quarter – does the tread reach the top of Washington’s head? That’s a depth of 4/32”. One more time with a penny…if the tread reaches the Lincoln Memorial, your tread is 6/32” deep.

If you’re thinking it might be time for a set of tires, don’t put it off…make an appointment and see what kind of price we can make you on a set of premium-brand tires.

  Posted in: Tires 101
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