Where to put 2 new tires on your vehicle?
In a perfect world, everyone would always get 4 new matching tires anytime 1 or 2 of the tires were worn down or dangerous to drive on. But, whether its an expense or timing issue, it’s not always possible. So inevitability the question that comes up on what to do if only buying 2 tires. Most of the time it’s the same answer….. the go on the rear! Of course that’s a counterintuitive response, I know. Makes perfect sense, if there’s a problem with a tire you want it to be on the rear since you can steer the front of the car and potentially handle getting the car off the road safely. But, as I’ll discuss below, its not so simple.
According to all the major tire manufacturer’s it is simple though, the best tires go on the rear. I have included a few videos that provide a good explanation and demonstration why, but I’ll expand upon that here and discuss that rule is meant to be broken sometimes.
The main function of a tire on a car is to provide a stable and safe contact between the vehicle and the road surface. Tires are designed to support the weight of the car, absorb shocks, and provide traction while driving. They are the critical components that enable a vehicle to move, steer, and stop efficiently. A tire’s tread pattern is responsible for providing grip and ensuring that the vehicle maintains traction even in adverse weather conditions. The depth of the tread also has a substantial impact on how the tire will perform in adverse weather conditions.
Now, for the most part with front engine vehicles, where there’s more weight up front, the tires require less tread to evacuate the water out fast enough to eliminate losing contact with the road or “Hydroplaning”. This is the condition where the tire loses contact with the road as there’s water between the tire and the road rendering that tire useless from a controlling the vehicle standpoint. We’ve all felt that feeling in the steering wheel where it doesn’t respond to your input and a moment of helplessness, not fun! This is called understeer and easier to deal with as there are typically some warning signs and that naturally causes you to slow down till the car feels safe again. When the tires in the back don’t have adequate tread to evacuate the water from under the car you can easily find yourself in an oversteer situation, which is much harder to recover from (see the videos to understand best).
The one time this rule is meant to be broken is if the other 2 tires on the car are in good shape and have a minimum 4/32 of tread left and you don’t anticipate replacing right away. Than, the goal would be to put the new tires on the front of the car to wear them down and get some additional life out of the other 2 tires on the rear.