Need 4 new tires?

I have a 2001 Honda CR-V. I recently went to buy 2 new rear tires and the salesman told me since it was AWD I had to buy 4 tires at once or it would cause problems with the transmission. Is this true or was he thinking I was a stupid middle-aged woman?

Look in the owners manual under tire replacement. It will state what the manufacturer recommends.

If it’s recommended that all four tires be replaced, you have to make a decision.

Depending how much the other two tires are worn, the two new tires can be shaved down to match the wear of those tires. But if the other two tires are worn over 50%, I’d replace all four tires.


Yep, that’s one of the things with AWD, and rotate to keep wear even.

If two tires are warn and the other two are not, that means you have not been rotating your tires as required.

And in an AWD vehicle, that can lead to differential damage.

It’s a tire cost vs differential cost issue. If all four tires are the same diameter the spider gears in the differential don’t move in relation to each other unless you are turning. But if the two rears have a different diameter than the two fronts, those spider gears will be turning against each other all the time you are moving, including moving straight ahead. That will eventually wear them out. But whether it would actually happen if you failed to replace all four tires as suggested, hard to say. It’s a bit of a gamble.

What would I do? hmmm … well, w/a 2001 CRV, those are pretty well made vehicles, so I’d probably take the bet. And save up some money for a differential repair just in case I bet wrong.

So if you don’t drive in snow frequently, next time skip the AWD…

AWD is not just for snow. It is a superior traction system in any condition, no matter whether the pavement is wet, dusty or perfectly dry. Better traction means added safety. Ask an engineer. Why do you think so many vehicles are available in AWD/4WD. But as with any driving condition, having the right tires and exercising proper judgment always makes a difference. If there is a question about differential failure being related to uneven tire wear I would suggest calling the automobile manufacturer and speaking with a technical rep. Who better to know the product than the people who designed and built it.

Yes, follow what the owners manual says regarding new tires and the need, if any, that the tires all be the same actual diameter or close to it.

While there, see what it says about changing the fluid in the transmission and especially the differential. Changing the diff fluid may be suggested every, say, 60,000 miles. And it may say use only Honda brand fluid. If so, do so.

Doesn’t matter how well made it is, if the diameters differ more than the design allows, damage will occur. Tire are WAY cheaper than drivelines…

They gave you general advice however not all AWD vehicles are sensitive to tire circumference differences. The owners manual doesn’t mention the importance of having all 4 equal tire tread depth or circumference. The lack of a warning is not reassuring. You may inquire at you local Honda dealer for advise.

This is from the owners manual;

It is best to replace all four tires at
the same time. If that is not possible
or necessary, then replace the two
front tires or the two rear tires as a
pair. Replacing just one tire can
seriously affect your vehicle’s handling.

With so many tire manufactures offering buy 3 get one free or gift cards for buying four that has to be cheaper than driveline repair and you have matching tires.

Some AWD systems are sensitive to tire diameter (circumference) and some or not. The problem is knowing which are which. The owners manual is helpful IF they specifically say you MUST replace 4 tires (or something to that effect), but the absence of such a warning is NOT assurance that the systems isn’t sensitive. I specifically know about 2 where there needs to be a warning and there isn’t one.

The problem is that the expensive involved in repairing an AWD system failure caused by tire diameter differences is considerable.

If I had to hazard a guess, the Honda CR-V is NOT one that is sensitive, but I don’t know that for sure - and the tire shop apparently doesn’t know either, hence their stance on the issue.

How much tread is left on the front tires?

If this were my car, I’d replace all four tires and then rotate them properly so that they all wear out at the same time next time.

AWD is not just for snow. It is a superior traction system in any condition, no matter whether the pavement is wet, dusty or perfectly dry. Better traction means added safety. Ask an engineer. Why do you think so many vehicles are available in AWD/4WD.

I think the reason so many cars are available in AWD/4WD is that most people are afraid of bad weather driving and not very good at it. I have lived in Western NY my whole life and have never found the need for anything other than 2 wheel drive. I prefer the lower cost, better fuel economy, lighter weight and fewer repairs.
As for the dry road handling benefits, if you are racing, maybe. In equal cars with equal engines the lighter car will win every time unless the engines are so powerful that traction is the only limiting factor.

Oldtimer, I disagree. Lets look at traction in various directions.

  1. Starting, accelerating. Yes, in this case AWD helps. Plus, of course, tire design and suspension. But is this a safety issue?

  2. Stopping. No, this depends only on brakes. Plus, of course, tire design and suspension.

  3. On a curve. No, this depends only on tire design and suspension.

  4. Vectors between the above. For example, powering out of a curve, where AWD will help some.

Edit: this is in response to your first paragraph. Reading the second paragraph, I think we are in agreement.

While I can certainly live without AWD, it is nice to have on occasion. Our Forester is the best for getting out of our subdivision, making a left onto a heavily-trafficked road. Our FWD cars will spin tires if I hit the gas too hard. Never with the Forester.

My first paragraph was just part of OK4450’s post that I was taking exception to.

I do not know the handleing differences with awd, except it is sure better in the snow and ice. Sorry I love my gm 4wd on demand option, Click it to auto, and it kicks in taking off from stoplights in slick conditions like snow, but stays off otherwise. click to 2wd for better mileage, Now I am afraid of 4wd or awd in snowy conditions, maybe it is just fine, but grew up without it and afraid to try it, though the 4wd did kick in to pass a nimrod with bald tires on a snowy road going 10 mph.

Other than improved traction while accelerating in slippery conditions, can anyone here say that AWD has other advantages that was worth their money paying for?

It’s also helpful taking off in dry conditions while turning, like when turning onto a busy street from a side street. Worth the cost? I guess not, but certainly nice to have.