Rotation of tires

So I bought 2 tires for the front in December and didnt buy the other 2 until February. Tire guy says I should leave the older tires on front and new ones on back and never rotate them because it can cause traction issues. Is this correct?

Yes, the tire person is looking out for you best interests and safety.

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Two months apart?
The wear difference will be negligible. That’s a fraction of their expected lifespan unless you’re accumulating a LOT of miles/month.


The lawyers make all tire dealers put new tires on the rear.

You can now rotate the tires as you wish.

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Sometimes, strictly following ‘rules’ should be questioned, just like the “Tire guy” who spoke to @jwatsisagod.
In a FWD car like the Camry, the front tires are most likely to wear faster than the rears.
So even putting on 4 new tires, by the time rotation is due, the fronts will be worn more than the rears. Does this mean no rotation because by comparison, the rears are ‘newer’ and so rotation means making the car less safe?
The answer must be NO. Otherwise, tire rotations would be dubious for most FWD vehicles.

Following this, if only two new tires are being purchased, their installation should depend on a relative comparison to the two used tires being kept. In the case of @jwatsisagod, and because @TwinTurbo is probably correct, installing 2 new tires on the front (with the 2-month old tires going to the rear) would have been essentially the same as an early tire rotation.

That’s not what I would do. I would rotate front to back as normal. Two months wear will make little difference but the purpose for rotating is to even wear on the tires. Also it is not exactly settled law to put the best tires on the rear. Some of us have done both with no issues.


What a world we are in. A good option for @jwatsisagod is probably to remember to rotate the tires a little bit earlier, instead of paying extra now just to move the new tires to the front.

And it seems unusual that a shop put 2 new tires on the front in Dec.

Must have been a different shop. :grin:

Studies by Michelin (I’ve seen the videos… eons ago) showed that in typical cars the chances of not losing control and spinning out are better with the better-traction tires in the rear. A typical modern car has 60% of its weight in the front, 40% in the rear. That’s 50% more weight over the front tires than the rear. Weight = traction. In order to offset this inequality somewhat to better equalize the traction between the front and rear, the tires with the better traction (the new ones) should be on the rear.

Since these studies have been digested by the industry, lawyers for many tire chains have recommended company policies to only put new tires on the rear when only two tires are purchased. The idea is to prevent lawsuits in the event of spinouts.

I personally think it’s a manifestation of a tort law system gone completely amok. Far, far too many people look for someone to sue for their own mistakes. And far too many courts and/or juries reward their efforts.


I think you meant ( less ) instead of greater

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Good catch. Yeah, I already fixed it. Gotta work on my proof reading skills! :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

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I’m not one for conspiracies, but I certainly think about self-interests in how people/companies think and act.
Always putting new pairs of tires on the rear (especially in FWD vehicles) will tend to leave the fronts wearing faster and so the need for new tires come up sooner, especially if rotations don’t happen. In short, sell more tires.

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Front wheel drive getting only two tires at a time. This is not complicated. The front will wear faster and if they need replaced you just simply move the rear tires to the front providing they are not weather cracked and have enough tread. Then the new tires go on rear and when the fronts need replaced just repeat.

In this case tread depth is not the reason. The new tires are softer and grip better than the tires already in service. 5000 miles from now this will not be an issue, you can rotate the tires as per the maintenance schedule.

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Maybe the reason I’m less concerned with spinning out is that the last time I spun out was in 1966, except for when we’d go spinning around on the frozen lake. Maybe my memory is just faulty but I’ve never been pulled out of the ditch either.

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Just an FYI:

The tire manufacturer I retired from used to hold a yearly demonstration of new products at its proving ground. Part of this was a demonstration of the principle behind putting new tires on the rear.

They set up 3 identical cars - one with 4 new tires, one with new tires on the rear and shaved to 4/32nds tires on the front, and one with new tires on the front and shaved to 4/32nds on the rear.

The course was a 200 meter diameter circle with a small section of it covered with water, with a large runoff area immediately after. The object was to drive all 3 cars through the water at 45 to 50 mph.

The car with new tires drove through the water without incident. The car with shallow tires on the front, new tires on the rear hydroplaned in the water but exited nose first and could be brought to a stop under control.

The car with new tires on the front and shallow tires on the rear, swapped ends in the water and could not be brought under control under it had stopped.

Over the years, thousands of people experienced this themselves. It was conducted on FWD and RWD, But that’s the kind of thing that stands up very well in court.


A couple of questions if you don’t mind, partly because there are suggestions/views that 4/32nds is the time to replace tires.

Did that tire manufacturer recommend replacement of its tires when they reach 4/32nds?
Were its tires that reached 4/32nds still under warranty by that manufacturer?

Waterbuff said: “… Did that tire manufacturer recommend replacement of its tires when they reach 4/32nds? …”

They advise so in print, which to me is a solid recommendation.

Waterbuff said: “… Were its tires that reached 4/32nds still under warranty by that manufacturer? …”

Yes. They are warrantied down to 2 /32nds which is the government minimum and the industry standard. The warranty is voided beyond that point.

Thanks for the answers.

First, the answers mean that the tire maker’s demonstration is essentially “new” versus “time to replace” tires. Doesn’t seem to say anything definitive about tires somewhere between “new” (at 10 or 11/32nds) and 4/32nds.

Second, that tire maker recommends replacement of its tires when they reach 4/32nds AND
has demonstrated evidence (that you described) of such tires being unsafe AND
warranties such tires for the remaining 2/32nds.
That seems legally possible, but realistically confusing to me.

Warranty roughly means free of defects in manufacturing, rather than ‘safe’. I wonder how many people confuse the two and think that 4/32nds are still ‘ok’ at least because the warranty is in effect?
I also wonder how many people need to be confused before something is misleading enough for public outcry?

A typical new allseason tire starts out at about 9/32" tread depth. 4/32" means just over 55% of the tread has worn away, and you only have 2/32" until you’re illegal. That’s where the tread bars are.

IMHO tires should be changed at 4/32". They’ve lost much of their ability to channel water, they’re prone to hydroplaning and their safety is thus questionable… unless you live in the Mohave Desert and don’t drive during those very rare rainfalls (they get less that 5" of rain a year).

Look at it this way; if you paid $400 for your tires, at 4/32" you only have about $89 worth of rubber left. Are you willing to risk crashing for a lousy eighty-eight bucks? I’m not.

That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it. :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:


Like everything else, that’s one demonstration and one side of it. I’ve never hydroplaned no matter how worn my tires were and I usually got 90+ thousand miles on a set. But when you are driving through 6-12" of snow, you would be happy to have new tires on the front in a FWD pulling you through the drifts. At any rate, I just buy four at a time and not worry about it. Who is right? Who knows. Everyone has their own experience.

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