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2018 Lexus ES 350 - Mismatched tires

Dear Car Talk:
My wife and I bought a 2018 Lexus 300 ES a few months ago. Based on the records and the VIN history it was a dealership demo model. After an agreed upon reduced price and a some minor exterior scratch repairs we bought it. We bought two other used cars a year after they were made within the past couple of years. And we’ve always conducted thorough inspections. However, it wasn’t until we washed the Lexus this weekend that we noticed the car has two different brand name tires. The tires are the same size and the tread depths are essentially about the same. The same brand name is on the driver’s side and likewise on the passenger side. Why do you think this occurred and what are the possible safety concerns?

Probably because the tires were not rotated as they should have been and you do not really have a problem .

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To follow up on what @VOLVO_V70 said, tires on front drive vehicles are normally rotated by swapping the front and rear tires. At some point, your tires were rotated the old fashioned round-robin way and now you have both front tires on the same side and both rear tires on the other. I doubt there’s any lasting damage but I’d invest in four new tires.

If this car really was a demo it wouldn’t have enough mile on it to wear out any tires. It was more likely a loan car for the service department, they have dozens and rotat them every year, I suspect that a customer hit a curb or median damaging two tires.


The great news is that you have a possible problem with your luxury car that can be solved by buying tires.


Would you post the make and model of the tires? If they’re similar in rating and design, no problem. If it’s a pair of super cheap tires with the original tires, I’d replace them.

How many miles on the car?

If you do keep these tires, I suggest putting the matching tires on the same axle (front or back). You don’t want a side-to-side traction imbalance in an emergency situation if you can help it.


+1 for @lion9car I second that motion. Same tires on each axle, not side to side.

I suspect that the tires were placed side-to-side so you would not notice it had 2 different brands of tire… But I’m a bit distrustful of dealers!


I don’t really know but I had the same experience with my Pontiac. A year old with 30,000 miles when I bought it. I didn’t notice the front tires were a different brand than the back tires. They looked the same and handling was fine. It was a rental and I really find it hard to believe that the tires wore out. So someone swapped them out for some reason unless it came from the factory like that. There was no alignment or other problem and tire wear has been normal in the past 100,000 miles. So I guess if its an issue, just replace the tires with what you want like I did. Likely the tires are original and not the best anyway.

That was my thought… exactly!

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[quote=“Bing, post:9, topic:162508”] ……. A year old with 30,000 miles when I bought it… it was a rental and I really find it hard to believe that the tires wore out. So someone swapped them out for some reason ………

I’ll bet it was a FWD and the tires were never rotated AND the front tires were worn out.

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And to address the OP:

In emergency situations, cars tend to pivot around odd tires. In this case it’s going to be one of the front tires - not good!!

It would be better to have the same tires on an axle. It would be better still if all 4 tires were the same - and by same, I mean same make and model and state of wear.

And while many folks will claim they didn’t have any issues with different tires on the same car, this is highly dependent on the EXACT difference. Differences that would be significant include Speed Rating (example S vs V), UTQG Rating (example 400 A A vs 800 A A), etc.

In the last 4 new SUV’s I’ve owned - only ONE set of OEM tires lasted past 30k miles…That set lasted to 35k miles. Every SUV - I replaced the worn tires with BETTER aftermarket tires. In every aspect the replacement tires were better. Better handling in all weather. Better ride. And all 4 replacement tires lasted well past 50k miles.

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If you like the car and intend to keep it, putting on new tires that fit your driving conditions is a smart move. Look at Consumer Reports and at for reviews of tires. Some criteria may matter more to you, some less. I don’t value long estimated life as much as I do snow and ice performance, comfort, and low noise. The point is, you get to dial in the performance of the car to your liking by choosing tires carefully.


I’m not the one with the tire problem.

Understood. I was picking up and supporting your advice.

Sorry - I misunderstood

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The dealership pulled a fast one on you and the question is why. 30,000mi. is sufficient for some original tires to be close to needing replacement, but then the question is why they mounted two different brands/models. It’s also conceivable that two tires wore faster than the other two (maybe an alignment problem, maybe damaged) and only those two were replaced and with whatever they had. I would be inclined to take it back and demand 4 matching brand new tires. You should cite the arguments others have made about uneven and unpredictable handling, you’re on firm ground with this. You definitely should have identical brand/model/size tires on the front and identical tires on the back, and to avoid oversteer as you approach a skid those on the rear should have the better traction, but there’s no practical way to know which pair those are and whether it’s true for all road conditions. I believe it is illegal to sell used tires as their potential damage history is unknown (this is another argument you can use if any of the tires came used from another car), so demand new and if you need to maybe offer to pay a prorated amount based on wear. If you can’t get satisfaction, just get proper tires for the car and consider it a lesson learned.

Here’s another theory. If we ruin a tire, we often need to replace 2 or even 4 with AWD. That means that there are 1-3 perfectly good tires coming off the car. So if after a while you have a supply of these, you pick the best matches to replace bad ones on another used car. I don’t know about demanding 4 brand new tires. Maybe that works but I’d be inclined to say: “Tell ya what Joe, I know you’re unhappy. How about we just take the whole car back and you can go get something else that you like?”

I guess JB01 has left the building . So it will never be known if he contacted the selling dealer ( that would have been my first step ) about the tires mismatch . Or if he asked a local tire store if he had a problem .