4 wheel drive tire replacements

My husband recently ran over a curb and blew out the right front tire on my 2005 Ford Escape. The dealer told us he had to replace all 4 tires because of the tread on the remaining tires, and the fact that the car had 24,000 miles on it and it is 4 wheel drive. He said if we don’t replace all 4 tires, it will affect the 4 wheel drive and possibly the transmission. He said one of the tires would be slick and not hit the road right. I probably only used the 4 wheel drive twice in the 3 years I’ve had the car. I was not familiar with 4 wheel drive and tire replacements or Ford, as this is the first Ford I have ever owned. Does anyone know if this is true?

If it’s a true 4wd system then the dealer is full of it…BUT if it’s a AWD system…some are very sensitive to different tire heights…and serious damage to the VC if you DON’T replace all 4 tires.

Check your owner’s manual. If your system is one that cane be damaged by different tires, it’ll advise you of this.

As mike said, some systems, Subies’ in particular, are sensitive to this.

Thanks Mike,
According to my dealer my 2005 Escape is an automatic 4 wheel drive in that its front wheel drive, unless I need 4 wheel drive, then it shifts automatically. There is no manuel operation to put my Escape into 4 wheel drive. My car dash says 4 wheel drive, but the book says all wheel drive. I am still confused, but have no reason to not trust my dealer, they have been very accomodating thus far.

That sounds like an AWD system.

The terms are all very muddled and vary from make to make, but the system you describe is what is generally called an “on-demand 4-wheel drive” system. They should not require all four tires to be equal, but as with any vehicle, the tires on each axle should be close to each other. If the left front tire is worn to any more than around half-way, I’d go ahead and replace them both.

Take a tire depth gage and check to see how much wear you have on the other three tires and average the depth then go to one of the places that sells used tires and try to find one the same make and same average tire depth as the rest of the tires. Problem solved!

I vote to change all 4. The are OE tires, usually not the best. AWD is not as forgiving with tire tread differences…and think of it, in less than 20k miles you may have to replace the other three or 4 by then. Tire rotations with generally the better on the rear? That’s pretty messed up till you start with 4 new. 24 k is well more half the expected life. As suggested, a tire gauge should confirm. Additionally, you need to get same tire tread match, manufacturer to be safe. Too many variables. Tire maN IS RIGHT, though maybe for the wrong reasons.

I was just giving my opinion on if they needed to replace all four tires. I still say no because as long as the other tire still have half tread left. I did state in my OP to make sure they got the same make as their other tires. I live on a limited income and this is what I would do. I think they should get about another two years out of the other three tires if they drive the average milage per year of around 12000 miles. If not then it would at least be a delay if they don’t have the money now to buy all four.

I think the dealer is merely trying to save you from a potential mechanical failure with buying 4 new tires. He might not really know how the 4wd system actually works, but it’s usually good practice to replace all 4 wheels at the same time if they have a good deal of miles on them

Even though mountainbike posted his advice several days ago, I think that it is still the most valid. If replacing just one tire is problematic, I am confident that the Owner’s Manual will make mention of this situation.

The OP never stated whether he/she read the appropriate text in the Owner’s Manual–and that would be consistent with most first-time posters on this forum. The OP owes it to himself/herself to give the Owner’s Manual a thorough reading, and then he/she owes it to all of us to inform us as to exactly what the manual states.

No matter what skuttlebutt is spouted by someone at the dealership, the Owner’s Manual should be considered to be the ultimate authority on this topic.

The OP never stated whether he/she read the appropriate text in the Owner’s Manual–and that would be consistent with most first-time posters on this forum.

After years on this forum…I just ASSUME THEY NEVER READ THE MANUAL. How many times a week do people ask questions when the answer is right in the manual.

Well according to a Google Search…it’s a AWD system.


I recently had a large bolt in one of my tires on my 2008 Ford Explorer. I also was told by my mechanic that I needed to replace all 4 tires because the vehicle is always in 4x4 auto and the tires also had 24,000 miles. I had a 2005 explorer previously that ran in 2x4 and I could manually switch to 4x4 and there was not a problem only replacing 2 tires.