All Wheel Drive

I have a 2005 Ford Freestyle. I damaged a tire and had to get it replaced. Now the dealer tells me that since I have an AWD vehicle, I have to replace the other 3 tires or risk damaging the drive train. Is this really true? Would it be possible to find a similar tire with the same wear as the other 3 tires? Where could I find such a tire?


The dealer is correct in this case, the Owner’s manual should explain the need for 4 matched tires. It may be possible to get a new tire and have it “shaved” by a tire shop to match the other three. Do a search on the forum on this subject. The question has been answered many times by other more qualified than myself. If VDCdriver posts a reply to your question, it would be good for you to heed his advice.

Ed B.

Look for used tires on Craigslist. Many tire shops have used tires also.

The other option is to have the new tire ‘shaved’. Car racers do it, google ‘tire shaving yourcity’ to see if someone in your area does it. They can measure the size of your old tires and shave the new one to match. This assumes you still have a good amount of tread on the old ones. If not, then you might as well replace the other 3.

The tire dealer’s advice is true. Page 202 of the online Ford owner’s manual for your car has a paragraph describing how your car cannot have tires with dissimilar sizes between the front and rear axles, otherwise the AWD system could stop functioning and default to front wheel drive.

Some manufacturer’s AWD systems seem to be more sensitive to dissimilar tire sizes than others (meaning their AWD will fail sooner and/or more catastrophic than failures in other vehicles).

It should be mentioned that the LAST thing tire dealers want to have happen is for THEM to held responsible for damaging these AWD vehicles…So they ALWAYS recommend 4 new tires regardless…As others have posted above, there are ways around this…

The key is that all four wheels have to be the same diameter within some small amount, usually stated in your owner’s manual. You can measure this yourself in a number of ways. One easy way is with a simple wooden yardstick, two clamps, and a ruler. Clamp the clamps at right angles to the yardstick such that they’re just touching the circumference of the new tire, do the same with the opposing tire, and compare. Of course, if your other tires already have significant wear and you’ll be changing all four soon anyway, you may as well do it now.

and, as always,even if the circumferences match the new tire should match or be a very close match to the existing tires in ratings and tread. If there’s any question on this, change the tire on the opposite end of the axle to match the new one.