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Which end of car to put the GOOD pair of tires?

edited August 2011 in Repair and Maintenance
Used to be all knew that on rear wheel drive the better pair of tires goes on back. On front drive better pair in front. I have switched to all wheel drive where 60+ power goes to rear so I put best rubber on rear. Recently gave co-worker concensus opinion on her front drive to put new pair in front, leave OK pair on rear and toss the baldies from the front. She called from the tire shop to say they wanted a disclaimer to put new pair in front. Per the manufacturer. (GM). I researched on line and found manufacturers switched over last ten years from good pair in front to good pair on rear. Regardless of drive! Can anyone explain this?


  • edited August 2011
    You don't want the rear end or your car sliding around putting you into a spin, do you?

    Don't drive on any bald tires. Buy some inexpensive used ones off Craigslist that still have good tread on them.
  • Lots of comments on this topic, you can use the "search" feature of the site to find them. If the rear tires break loose in a skid the car is out of control. Therefore better tires in rear are recommended.
  • The best tires go on the rear regardless of the type of drive the vehicle has.
  • The "better tires on the drive wheels" rule was enacted so you could keep driving in the snow or other low traction situations and have less of a chance of getting stuck. People eventually figured out that the ability to control the car was a little bit more important than the ability to not get stuck. When they figured this out, they also figured out that understeer (steer tires plowing) is much less dangerous and much easier to control than oversteer (back end sliding). Having the better tires on the rear reduces the chance of oversteer, or spinning out. Ideally, of course, you should have matching tires on all four corners, and rotate them to keep them matching, but if you can only replace two of them, putting them on the rear will lessen your chance of losing control of your car during foul weather or evasive maneuvers.
  • The best tires always go on the rear. With worse traction in the front, the car will understeer, which a typical driver can usually recover from. With worse traction in the back, the car will go into a spin, usually leading to a crash.
  • "Ideally, of course, you should have matching tires on all four corners, and rotate them to keep them matching, "

    Which is my problem with "better tires on the rear." With a FWD car, if the "better" tires (the ones with more tread) are on the rear, the "worse" tires on front will be losing tread at faster rate than the rears, leading to ever-more-disparate tread depths.

    The only way to "keep 'em matching" is to put the (slightly) worse tires on back, until the (slightly) better tires "catch up" to the rears, due to a faster wear rate. Strictly speaking, you cannot rotate tires AND have the better tires always in the rear (on an FWD car).

    "They also figured out that understeer (steer tires plowing) is much less dangerous and much easier to control than oversteer (back end sliding)."

    And I don't understand why everybody nowadays thinks correcting for oversteer requires the driving skills of an F1 driver. Sure, it's counter-intuitive the first few times, but if you practice the procedure on snowy/dirt roads, it becomes second nature quickly. (Not only that, "practicing" this maneuver is FUN.)

    Besides, the typical "people hauler" has such an understeer bias that overcoming that tendency is beyond "mismatched tires' poor power to add or detract."
  • Simple. We all generally agree that it is better to see where you are going than where you came from. So best on the back.
  • Just in case you need another opinion; newest tires go on the rear axle, regardless of drive train configuration.

    For the reasons stated above.

  • I am going to go against the grain again, not for the first time and likely not for the last time. I support the position taken by Quad4 and meanjoe75 fan. Put the better tires up front, especially for FWD cars.

    For most of the 20th century everyone knew to put the new tires on the front. No need to explain, everyone knows the reasons. More recently the tire manufacturers invited drivers out to the proving ground. They encouraged drivers to drive aggressively on a flooded track, driving cars with different pairs of tires front and rear.

    Not surprisingly, the cars hydroplaned more readily when they had good tires up front and well-worn tires in the rear. And so, concerned about liability and litigation, the big tire manufacturers ordered their franchises to insist that pairs of new tires must be mounted only on the rear axle.

    Not all of us buy into this new order, however. We slow down in the rain and we allow greater distances between the other cars. We don’t push the envelope on flooded S-curves. And so the 20th-century wisdom is good enough for us. Better tires go up front, rotate them for even wear, and be able to replace tires in sets of four. Have all four corners match. Find a shop that offers free rotation and that will carry out the customer’s instruction.

    In short, if hydroplaning and spin-outs were a common everyday hazard I would certainly accept the current advice of tire placement. But I prefer to rely on safety by proper driving technique. And so I retain the well-known advantages of having better tires up front. My choice. Everyone else can do as they please.

  • After Costco gave me 2 new tires for $20 under their road hazard warranty, I hang the rear out within 3 miles. New tires in the back gives LESS traction on the dry sunny day that I was driving; they have more flexible treads then the old front tires. However, the reverse is true when the road is wet.
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