A rear tire was found to have a sidewall leak and the tire shop wants to sell me four new tires. Can’t I just put a radial rated inner tube in the tire, rebalance it and put it back on?
No. The tire is shot. And you should replace the other rear tire along with it.
But, if the wear on your front tires is minimal, make sure the shop rotates both of the front tires to the rear wheels, and installs your new pair up front. You always should do this, as your car has front wheel drive.
No-sidewall damage condems the tire.
With four similarly worn tires and AWD, the only way out of that situation is 4 tires, because one tire CANNOT be larger than the other 3 (think powertrain damage).
Sidewall damage is not repairable
AWD requires tyres all very closely matched in size, so one or two new tyres and two or three new tyres could end up costing you much more when the AWD goes out.
… make sure the shop rotates both of the front tires to the rear wheels, and installs your new pair up front.
NO! the best tyres should always be on the back. In an emergency situation you want the best traction on the back to keep the car from loosing back traction and ending up with the driving looking where he came from and not where he is going.
This is not the only way out. Some tire dealers (including Tire Rack) can shave a new tire to match the old ones. Depending on the remaining tread, this may or may not be the least expensive solution.
Thanks to all. I determined the leaking side wall indicated the tire was breaking down due to weathering. The three other tires showed cracking in the sidewalls as well, even though the tires were only 5 years old and had pleanty of tread left. That was a first for me. I’ve never had tires rot off my rigs before I wore them out. They were Goodyear tires. I now have four new Toyo tires.
When you say five years old, did you check the date code printed on the tires? Perhaps they sat around for a while before you bought them.
No! to both of you. It’s AWD. It needs 4 matching-diameter tires. Replace all 4 of them.
(but Joseph - you’re right if it’s a 2WD vehicle)
It is highly unlikely that the problem with the leak was the age of the tire or dry rot. The innerliner (the part that holds in the air) is generally made of butyl rubber, which isn’t subject to the same aging rate as the rubber in the sidewall. What you see on the sidewall is more an indicator for the structural materials of the tire and not the air retaining materials.
You’ve done the smart thing. New tires when any question exists are really cheap insurance against a blowout and resulting accident.
By the way, while you may have put the tires on only 5 years ago, the tires themselves may have been years older. Surveys have found that tires sitting on racks as “new” often have manufacturing date codes from prior years, sometimes exceeding 5 years. These tires could actually have been in excess of 10 years old.