New tires on the front

I think that the important issue may be the traction rating of the tires rather than just “put the new tires on the back”. I would guess that a tire of one make that has been in service for a while may still have a better traction rating than a new tire of another make due to tread design and the composition of the rubber. If the front tires on a front wheel drive wear more quickly than the rear tires, then one should not rotate tires at all, because the tires with more wear and presumably less traction would then be on the rear wheels. The traction wouldn’t be equalized until the tires rotated to the front wear down and equalize the traction. My guess is that the traction probably remains about constant until the tire is worn to a certain point, when the tread is worn so badly that it can’t expel the water. As I understand it, the purpose of the tread is to throw water away from the tire. If the pavement were perfectly dry, no tread would be needed because there would be more rubber in contact with the pavement. As I stated earlier, my rear tires have plenty of tread (about 8/32"). My concern about moving them to the front is that the tires are of different makes and the differences in tread design may be more noticeable on the way the vehicle handles.

In preparation for a trip into snowy mountains I went to a tire shop today to have my all-season tires inspected. I have a RWD BMW 525i wagon. I had 6/32 on the rear tires and 7/32 on the front. The guy advised me not to rotate the tires “because you steer with the front”. According to the prevailing opinion in this thread that’s bogus and he is incompetent. Correct? I should probably have the tires rotated before leaving.

There’s a point of diminishing returns on this.

Michelin did a study that indicates that 1/32nd of an inch difference in tread depth is small enough to be considered the same.

Nevertheless, the tire store guy is probably competent in his area - which would be selling tires or installing tires - not vehicle dynamics!

Youngtimer brought up an interesting point. The front tires not only do the steering, they do most of the stopping.

The recommendation to put the better tures no the rear to prevent spinouts is legit…however it’s like those meds my cardiologist prescribed…it has side effects. It (on fwd cars) adversely affects “go power” and stopping power. Steering I won’t comment on because that talks to the spinout question.

The only real and intelligent solution is to not drive in winter weather without at least a minimum of 50-75% of your tread on both ends. If you plan your purchases, you can do like I do and always enter the season with excellent tread all around.

Tires are cheap insurance against accidents. A few hundred bucks, even four or five hundred bucks, is worth every penny if it means your safety. I never let the tread get low, I change the tires when it starts to, when the wear bars become clearly visable…not when the tread gets down to them.

In Maine and in my tire shop there is a sign indicating that a pair of new tires will be installed ONLY on the rear tires…

It may very well be that the ?on the rear? policy comes from the tire companies? lawyers. It may also be Out-of-Date information, i.e. from the days when 99% of cars were RWD. As far as tire company expertise goes, remember Firestone? I happen to believe it?s BUGUS, but it could be credible if tire stores refused to rotate ?better? tires to the front.

FWD vehicles drive differently than RWD vehicles. With a RWD car, when the rear starts to slide out you back off and steer to correct. With FWD you apply a small amount of additional gas and steer to pull the rear back in line. In any case, you don?t want ?baldies? on any of your wheels if you?re driving in inclement weather. Assuming reasonable, yet unmatched tread, put the better tires on the axle that needs better traction: the drive axle.

It may very well be that the ?on the rear? policy comes from the tire companies? lawyers. It may also be Out-of-Date information,

No. Frankly this advice was not common until after FWD became standard. It is current information and IMO anyone who wants to test it out is a fool. They are just trying to keep you from having your car spin around so you are looking where you came from rather than where you are going.

I don’t have a reference handy, but I have seen car and consumer magazine reports who tested it out within the last two years and they all agree. Put the best on the back. If the others are not good enough to put on the front, then you need at least two new tyres.

There are plenty of references out there too that prove this to be true. One only needs to look at the links provided in this thread for proof.

You may want to consider rotating tires more often. I usually rotate every other oil change, or 8k-9k miles. My tires on either vehicle (even the Bronco with the notrious tire-eating TTB front end) wear out at practically the same time.

If you make the mistake of braking while turning on packed snow, your car can spin in a complete circle. You may never have the problem, but when you do there is no stopping it. Most tires aren’t bad enough to cause a problem, no matter how worn they are but some no-traction tires are trouble. Some old cars handled much worse than your car and they ruined it for the rest of us. The skidding was factual but probably not built into your car.

I was driving a snow packed road with winters installed on front and summers installed on rear of a Jetta. The car without any intervention just driving straight spun into two 360’s due to ruts down the middle of main street in a medium sized NH town.

Extreme case but I remember being 19 and thinking it was stupid to put snows on rear too. The car moved right along on snowy roads but always had a fishtailing feeling at speed.