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Tire Tread Depth Difference in Tires

My 2006 Lexus GS 300 AWD was hit in the parking lot. Among other damage, one tire needed to be replaced. The other party’s insurance company wants to charge me $100 pro-rated cost for a new tire (with 10/32 tread depth) because the old tire was at 4/32 tread life.

Ok, I get the idea behind the pro-rated cost. The insurance company claims their obligation is to make me “whole”, and whole is a 4/32 tread tire. I’m arguing with them that they are causing me a problem by providing a replacement tire with significantly different tread depth. Leaving me with mismatched tires that could affect wear on my drivetrain and cause handling issues. I have read a lot of recommendations to replace all four tires, but can find nothing specific in my owner’s manual to support this.

Can anybody point to authoritative evidence that I should also replace the other three tires? Or that all four tires should be within some range of tread depth? Then I will negotiate with the insurance adjuster accordingly.

Check your owners manual. AWD systems have changed over the years. Some are very sensitive to different tire diameters…others aren’t.

If manual says you should replace all 4…then I’d get them to replace all 4. They’ll balk at this. But try negotiating…and if possible get your insurance company involved.

While you might not like this answer, they could supply you with one tire shaved to 4/32". It’d be a lot cheaper than buying you 4 new tires.

But if all your tires are at 4/32", that’s the depth I’d replace them. How about this compromise: They give you a new tire (to me it’s nuts for them to claim a ‘pro-rated cost’ for the one tire), and you buy the other 3 that you’d need shortly anyway.


This sounds suspicious. If they can’t find (or have made) a 4/32 tire, that’s on them; you shouldn’t have to pay for their problem.
For all we know, that 10/32 tire might only cost them $100 or so and the company is ‘making itself whole’ at your expense.

And make sure the tire they buy is good quality. Lots of super-cheap poor tires out there.

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Get some estimates for “shaving” a tire. It typically costs from $25 to $35 per tire.

Inform the insurance company that in order to keep from damaging driveline components that you would expect them to compensate for shaving, in addition to the pro-rated tire allowance, mounting and balancing.

Consult your car’s Owner’s Manual. I believe all/most manufacturers give specifications for maximum differences in the “rolling radius” of all 4 tires. Sometimes it’s given as a percentage, circumference, or a tread depth.

Let the insurance company know of their mistakes/omissions and see if you can get a cash settlement for this addition and then do your own thing to remedy the situation.

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As texases says, new tires were in the picture in the near future anyway. Why not just ask that a decent used tire be installed so you can get to where ever you would buy 4 tires in the first place. I would be more concerned about the body repair.


Be careful. To make you whole, they could have the tire store shave the new one all the way down to match your other three old ones…personally, I think that’s more realistic outcome than them supplying all 4 new tires.

at 4/32", I’d replace all four. That is the point where I replace tires, as wet weather and snow behavior are both significantly degraded.

Even if your tread depth were more, such as 8/32, I’d want a tire with identical model and brand.

This is a safety issue.

Reference: CU article
"Unfortunately, 2/32 of an inch may be too late if you drive in rain or snow. Based on our tests of new and half-tread-depth tires, you may want to consider shopping for new ones on your car or truck closer to the 4/32-inch groove depth. "

That’s what I’d do, too. 4/32" gets one close to replacement. 3 tires at 4/32" and one destroyed puts it over the top into the replace all tires category.

Good point! If the OP’s model and brand on the other 3 are no longer available, there’s more basis to press against the insurance company replacing with one ‘equivalent’ tire – especially because this is AWD.

And replacing all the tires at 4/32 isn’t quick right for the OP depending on miles driven and where they are driven (very little rain/snow in SoCal for example).

Remember he drives a Lexus, that means if it’s raining he only goes 10 MPH with his fourway flashers on in the left lane.

You said this offer is from the other party’s insurance company. What does your insurance company say? They’re supposed to be helping you here if needed.

Regardless, I agree with the other comments that it’s best to replace all four tires at this point. Whatever money you get, just put it toward that.

huh? what does this have todo with this discussion?

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You quite likely need all 4 tires but the insurance company is only going to pay for one. As it should be.

It’s no different than a collision which damages a shock or strut. Shocks and struts are always replaced in pairs.
However, if one is damaged due to collision the insurance company is only going to foot the bill for one and its mate will be on your dime.

Feeble attempt, wait-really feeble attempt at humor.

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Tough crowd.


The comments of wet traction with the OP wanting to keep all tires with only 4/32 tread.

If the ins company’s obligation is to “make you whole” and no more, then mention the depreciated value of your car as a result of it’s being repaired vs. one which has never been in an accident. And they’re nit picking about a tire? Geez!

I’ve owned two airplanes in my time, with the current one being involved in what the FAA calls an “incident” (one of the main landing gear failed to extend before landing). New propeller for right engine (since been replaced, along with engine). But the airframe has damage history
(re-skinned wing flap and aileron). Any plane owner will tell you that damage history affects resale value