Placement of new tires


I just purchased 2 new tires for my Honda . My auto shop put them on the front as I have front wheel drive. My brother-in-Law also has a Honda & he prurchased 2 new tires at Costco. They put them on the back. What’s the verdict? Michelin has evidence to support new tires in the back(see video) but I cannot find such information anywhere else.


Front, rear, all, or four wheel drive, if you are replacing only two tires, they should always go on the back.
THe reason is that, if it ever matters, it is much more dangerous to lose rear wheel adhesion than front wheel adhesion. (Think of your car spinning out and swapping ends in an emergency).


It would depend on the condition of the tires you aren’t replacing and the car. As far as wheel adhesion is concerned, unless you drive in the snow or off-road, tires with less tread will stick to the road better than new tires with more tread.


Nonsense, bald tires are not the same as racing slicks (what about driving in the rain?). The best answer to to have them all equal, but if you need to replace just two they always go on the back.


Who said anything about bald tires? In dry weather, tires with less tread will grip the road better than brand new tires. How, when and where you drive should be considered when buying only two new tires. What may be right for you isn’t necessarily right for everyone.


No responsible shop will install the better tires on the front. If you do otherwise, are you going to get out and rotate them every-time it rains? As I said, the best solution is to keep them even and replace all four before the treads reach the minimum limit. On FWD cars that normally requires rotating the tires. On RWD cars, you can rotate them to maximize their life or you can simply replace all four when they are due (I just replace mine (RWD) about once per year, about 40K miles and don’t bother with rotating them).

I agree that brand new tires do not have the maximum traction in the dry, shaving them to some percentage of the original tread depth will maximize the dry grip (which is what is done in racing classes that require the use of street tires). I’m not convinced that normal wear (which is not as even as tire shaving) will produce similar results. In any event, dry grip is not usually the limiting factor for street use.


“No responsible shop will install the better tires on the front.”

Huh?! They all will do so if you ask them to do it. If you say nothing they will simply put them wherever the old pair used to live. That’s how tire shops have worked for a century, and that’s how they still operate.

There is no universal agreement where that new pair should go. Putting the new pair exclusively on the rear is a recent fad. Wait a few years, it will change again. On my cars the new pair goes up front where it belongs.


Actually, the Costco tire department in my neck of the woods has a sign near the cash register that says something along the lines of “If only two tires are purchased, they will be mounted on the rear, with no exceptions”. That is not an exact quote, but it is pretty close.

As to why they adhere to that policy, it is because tire manufacturers universally state the same concept for their recommended way of mounting new tires. While it is possible that there are tire dealers that will deviate from that pattern, I believe that it is rare, in view of the liability that they could incur from deviating from what is now the accepted way of doing things.


“There is no universal agreement where that new pair should go. Putting the new pair exclusively on the rear is a recent fad. Wait a few years, it will change again. On my cars the new pair goes up front where it belongs.”

Please don’t drive near me under low traction conditions.


“Please don’t drive near me under low traction conditions.”

Actually, I am probably the last person whom you have to fear during low traction conditions. I have AWD, plus traction control, plus vehicle stability control, and I mount 4 Michelin X-Ice tires each year. And, in addition to that technology, I drive conservatively and I allow a very large following distance between me and the car in front of me.

If someone tailgates me during snowy/icy conditions, I pull over as soon as it is safe so that the fool can pass me. Perhaps these factors have something to do with my having driven for over 30 years/475,000 miles without an accident. And, if I was to replace only 2 tires (I actually replace all 4 at a time), I would place them on the rear, as the manufacturer recommends.

Addendum: Sorry Craig, I guess that I was actually responding to SteveF. The format of the newly designed board can be a bit confusing at times!


Joe Guy gave the best answer…Your new tires and your old tires will have slightly different handling characteristics on both wet and dry roads. The car WILL drive noticeably different with the two new tires. Most FWD cars “push”, (understeer) when pushed hard into a corner. With the new tires on the front, they will push a little more on dry roads. With the new tires on the back, the handling will be more neutral because the worn tires will have slightly better dry road “bite” and the car will understeer less. But it all depends on which “road feel” you prefer. You’re the driver, It’s YOUR car. YOU decide where to mount the new tires.

On wet or icy roads, thing get more complicated because different tires can behave VERY differently when near their limit of traction. So when the roads are not dry, stay well below the limit of traction. This is controled by your right foot…


“Addendum: Sorry Craig, I guess that I was actually responding to SteveF. The format of the newly designed board can be a bit confusing at times!”

I think we are in agreement, new tires on back. I also replace all 4 at a time, and I drive RWD cars.


Sears has a display notice too that two new tires should go to the rear. I ignore this as it is easier to put the new tire where they are needed and have not had a problem in winter or summer since our first front wheel drive car in 1978. When you rotate tires in 8000 or so miles, the rule is then given up as you must rotate if front wheel drive or risk odd tire wear. Due to the ongoing controversy with this topic, now and before, it could be concluded that there is only a marginal safety advantage with new on rear which, as I said is soon lost when tires are rotated.

Put the new tires on the front so the new tires are rotated to the rear by the time winter arrives if rear is safer.


Funny you should mention Sears. My last pair of tires was bought at Sears earlier this year. I was replacing the rear set. I mentioned to the order clerk who was writing up the order, “Oh, yeah. Put the new tires on front.” He entered this on the ticket without any comment. My new tires went on the front where they belong. BTW, I have good rubber on all four corners.


“My new tires went on the front where they belong.”

I assume that also means you drive a wrong-wheel-drive vehicle. (-;


the wifes been telling me that for over 26 yrs!!! (that is the steering wheel should be on HER side)


See what these folks say about that:


Tire Rack parrots the standard line from the tire business; new on rear. This is probably marginally safer and keeps the lawyers away from the tire installer if there is an accident due to loss of traction. They do not address your situation when tires are rotated. If you want to rotate your tires to keep them from wearing oddly and then risk a traction loss situation, that is not their problem; they did not tell you to rotate the tires or did they? They should be asked to clarify this in view of the need for rotation.

The reality, in my view, is that the difference in traction with new on rear or on front is very slight. If this was not the case, there would be an epidemic of spun out cars in every rainstorm or snowstorm and lawyers would exploit this. Your owner’s manual would caution you to replace all four tires; ours do not for three front drive cars.


The standard company line from all the tire manufacturers is to put new tires on the rear when only replacing two. I think they should go on the drive wheels, but the rear only rule is simpler and doesn’t require the tire changing monkey to think about FWD vs. RWD. This is just my opinion.


Testing at the Michelin Proving Grounds on wet pavement has proven conclusively that on front wheel drive cars the new tires should be on the rear. The reason is that on a typical front wheel drive car the weight is distributed about 60% front, 40% rear, giving the front tires 50% more weight which gives them a significant traction advantage. Having the better tires on the rear helps to offset that inherant advantage and prevent spinout.

Although I can’t offer a link to the tests, I’ve read the data. A search could probably link you up to something conclusive.