1 or 2 new tires

I’m sure this is been brought up a number of times but can’t quite find my answer.

My wife’s 2006 Highlander has a rear tire that needs replacing. To many patches/plugs in it now. Seems to be a magnet for nails and screws. All 4 tires are less than 2 years old, Michelins. Tread depth on the fronts are 6/32 and rears are 8/32. Yeah I never had them rotated. A new tire starts at 10/32 so I’m wondering if I should by one new tire for the rear, that’s a 2/32 difference between the two rears. Wait till the front ones wear out and buy 4 new ones.


Buy two new ones for the rear and after a few years when the front ones wear out buy two more and rotate them in. Of course that means they may not make that same tire in a few years. So maybe I just answered my on question, buy one.


While it is very possible that damage has already been done by failure to rotate the tires, I would suggest that you not compound any prior damage or begin a new round of damage by buying only one or two tires at this point. Wait until all of the tires are ready for replacement and buy 4 new, matched tires.

Hint: There really is a reason why the manufacturers of AWD vehicles specify tire rotation on a consistent basis. I believe that with your vehicle, it is supposed to be every 5k miles.

@Vondy Is yours FWD or AWD?

Can’t wait, tire currently has a nail in it. Along with a plug and patch/plug. I don’t want to chance the tire blowing out so it will be replaced.

As for damaging by not rotating, I’m not buying it. Not rotating will cause the fronts to wear faster than the rears, not damage the tire. The rear tires if I buy 1 new one will be 2/32 apart from each other. The fronts will match each other.

It’s even been suggested on this site that rotating tires is not worth it unless you can do it yourself or find a place cheap enough to do it. The cost could be more than the tires over time. Not that I’m against rotating, I’d do it myself, just let it go too long this time.

BTW, this Highlander is front wheel drive, not AWD. Rear tires just spin on the hubs, no diff.

I am not an expert, but it seems to me that if the rears just spin, you can replace one.
If you want to make it safe to move these up front and buy new rear ones, then you can
probably have your time place shave 2/32 off your new one.

That was “tire place”. Dern fingers autocomplete

“this Highlander is front wheel drive, not AWD”

In that case, then you can go ahead and replace the tires two at a time.

But I would still not recommend having unequal tread depth tires on the front.

Fronts will stay as is. They match each other. Rears will be one old and one new. 8/32 and 10/32. I believe a 2/32 and less than 2 years difference is acceptable. That will keep my best tread on the rear axel like you’re supposed to and minimize the cost. Few years and we will get 4 new ones.

Man I hate all the crap in the roads in this city. I’ve lived in Dallas for 15 years and have had more tire damage than when I lived out in the sticks and played around off road etc. I’ve had potholes slash my sidewalls, various nails and screws, even a piece of plastic embedded in my Xterra’s tires. Get’s expensive fast when you can’t patch them anymore.

Thanks, for the help.

I would just replace the one damaged tire.

Do you have very low profile tires?

That is something I refuse to buy and would pay extra to avoid, as the smallest pothole causes expensive time and wheel damage.

But yes, with FWD, the rears can be mismatched.


2/32 difference will pose absolutely no problems on the rears.
Damage to cars due to differences in tire size come from the components designed to compensate for different rotating speeds being overworked. Depending on the design the actual mode of failure can vary. But on your car the two rear wheels are each spinning totally separately, not connected in any way whatsoever except, of course, through the suspension and unibody. Neither wheel is affected whatsoever by whatever the other is doing.

When the wear bars become obvious, change both as a pair. When it comes to hydroplaning and winter weather (if that’s applicable in this case), unequal traction can cause problems.

“with FWD, the rears can be mismatched.”

…as long as the OP doesn’t mind the…compromised…handling that can result from tires with different coefficients of friction…

“Yes, with fwd, the rears can be mismatched”

Not by the book…You can get away with replacing just one rear tire. Just remember never to use on the front with a different radius in the same axle. It will have different traction when braking and cornering which shows up more in inclement weather. So, if you want your wife to drive that car and increase the chance your wife can spin out and you are OK with that, that’so your choice. Your tires will tend to pull to one side with a new and worn tire of significant diameter difference. That’s a recipe for loosing control in some maneuvers and slippery conditons.

Personally, I would try to buy two identical tires, same make and model with identical treads. If I could not get them within 3 or less 32 inch, I would buy 4. Of course, I love my wife dearly and I go by the book when it comes to maintainig her car. I used to take chances with my trucks till I realized she liked to drive them too. Our family could survive without me; but not her. But, it’s your wife. Just don’t let her read the owner’s manual or tire replcement guide or Tire Rack, or…

Personally, I’d just patch the tire again and keep it. Unless the new patch is within 2 inches of another patch, I don’t see a problem.

I’m guessing the shop said “no more”.

It’s an '06. How many miles you got on this truck? This is for a back wheel on a front wheel drive vehicle that your wife drives. Slap a used tire on there and call it good!

" slap a used tire in there and call it good"

The rear tires are responsible for helping to brake in a straight path and turn safely. I would give their equal traction a little more respect for a loved one’s use.

Optimally in pairs as it will create a handling imbalance with a single tire. If you have stability control it can make up for that handling difference however it will become pronounced mainly in heavy wet roads or ice/snow.

“If you have stability control, it can make up for that imbalance difference”

These devices ONLY work well if the tread is good and balanced to begin with. It’s almost the opposite of what is said is true. Two different tires with different handling characteristics on the same axle can interfere, not help traction and stability control do their job. When a car looses control and the tires are part of the problem, a cars stopping distance can be increased much more then it should in an attempt to "make up " for this imbalance handling characteristics by excessive pulsating of the brakes. This is a big reason why manufacturers are more insistent on having tires with like performance.

The safety devices can make matters worse under those conditions. When doing an accident investigation and your car has lost control and you are using miss matched tires, that WILL be logged into the report by the investigator if they are aware of it. Your insurance company has access to this report in any decisions they make. If f you are at fault and are sued for any damages, this accident report will be part of the decision as well. Some tire companies won’t even be part of the instalation of just one odd tire.

Some people think they need two matching shoes that are the same to safely walk but don’t think their car needs the same consideration…