CarTalk.com Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Replacing tires

I drive a 2004 Hyundai Elantra with 72,000 miles on it. My rear tires are worn. Do I put the replacement tires on the rear or on the front (and rotate the front tires to the back?) I’ve asked several mechanics and got several different answers. Isn’t there a definite answer to this question? Who knew this was so controversial?

Nowadays, no reputable tire shop will install new tires on the front wheels, simply because all of the major tire manufacturers specify that the “best” tires are supposed to be placed on the rear wheels. That being said, if you had rotated your tires properly, and as long as your wheel alignment is within factory specs, the wear would be approximately even from front to rear.

If I were you, I would buy 4 new tires, and then begin rotating them on a consistent basis (every 5k miles or every 7.5k miles), but if you want to buy only 2 tires, be sure to have them installed on the rear wheels.

The general consensus is to put them on the back. We all used to put them on the front in the past but it appears on the back is a safer way to go to prevent skidding. Personally depending on the other two, I tend to just go with four cause I don’t like having poorer tires on the front. Also I’d tend to go with the same brand as the other two.

If you buy your tires in pairs, your vehicle is never going to handle as well as it could/should…

Yes, this matter is controversial. We’ve discussed the issue many times in this forum.

There is no clear cut answer to the front/rear question; it is merely a trade off of small advantages/disadvantages. All you really need is good rubber on all four corners.

Let the tire dealer put the new pair on the rear as he will insist. Then return regularly for your free rotation.

The question is do you want to get the most life out of the tyres or the most safe ride?

Don’t let the old advice to from the days with rear wheel drive dictate your decision.

One would think that the best tyres on the front would always be right, but if you have worn tyres on the back, in an emergency you can lose grip on the back and if it loses traction, you can end up losing control and maybe your life (maybe my life).