Tires: which end gets the new ones?

My grandson was trying to see how far he could go in his 2007 Ford Focus with one tire inflated to 5psi. The answer was “not very far”.

He made it to Costco on his doughnut spare and bought two new tires and was told they HAD to go on the rear for better traction. Now this is a front wheel drive car, is has front wheel steering and most of the braking is done by the front wheels. Why in the world would they put the new rubber on the rear? I called Michelin and they said Costco was right- they need to go on the rear. I called a Ford dealership and they said they put the best rubber on the front. Who is right?

On the front. Older tire may blow or seperate If so it would be much safer if they were on rear.
Sure would like to know why tire co said what they said!

Although it seems counterintuitive, the tires with the best tread should always be mounted on the REAR of the vehicle, regardless of which wheels drive.

This is to prevent the rear end of a vehicle from losing traction first in slippery conditions, which can result in a rapid spin.

Mcparadise is correct. Sometimes, what seems counterintuitive is actually correct, as is the policy of tiremakers to have the tires with the most tread mounted on the rear wheels.

Since most car dealerships give out so much bogus advice, I really don’t know why someone would believe those people, rather than the tire company that conducts exhaustive tests on tires and their effects on vehicle handling.

This is standard Costco policy and I got the same story for both my rear drive and front drive vehicle. The braking, or lack thereof, is what causes potential liability issues, hence the best tires on the back.

Traction on a front drive car is ussually OK because of all the weight there.

As stated before, best tires on the REAR to minimize the chances of spinning out in a skid. Nothing to do with braking (of which is mostly done by the front).

As per the usual, I’m at odds with the majority. I believe the new ones should go on the front for two reasons.
If a rear lets go one can steer the problem out with good rubber up front. If a front lets go there is no guarantee that one is going to steer anything.

The other is that a worn tire is more prone to hydroplaning on wet pavement and a new tire will have far less of a tendency to go skating. The worn rears will not be a problem because they’re pretty much following in the cleared tracks that the front tires have just made.

This is one of the very few times I disagree with OK.

If a tyre is worn enough that hydroplaning or a blowout is likely, you should not have that tyre on the car at all.

In the old days we always had the best tyres on the back. Every theory pointed to the same thing, keep the best ones on the back. Today we have FWD cars so there are counter theories. Some point to putting the best on the back and some on the front.

After years of experience with FWD cars, the professionals have found that it is safer to put the good ones on the back. It may not seem right, but it is right. Most tyre stores will not put the new tyres on the front or will do so only after warning the customer of the reason they should not be there.

In truth, to be safe you need good tyres on both the front and the back, but the best should be on the back.

Speaking as a New Englander and someone used to snow and ice I will vote fresh rubber goes on the rear. I’d rather have understeer in bad conditions than have the rear end come around on me with weak tires out back. The answer you can live with may depend on what region of the country you live in.

My point is that all tires will hydroplane; even new ones to some degree. If one has new tires with say 7/16" of tread depth on the front and the used rears (while still perfectly good) have 7/32" of tread depth the rears are going to be much more prone to hydroplaning than the fronts simply because the tread depth will not allow the displacement of as much water.

Since the rears are following on a pretty much cleared path they will not have a tendency to skate as much.

Some years ago I had set of Kelly Springfields on my Lincoln and these were the worst rain tires I’ve ever seen in my life. They were great on dry pavement but even during a light rain with no water pooling one could not drive over 60 MPH on the Interstate. It was that bad.
There are a few times during very light rain in which simply removing my foot from the brake pedal (and never actually touching the acc. pedal) at a traffic light would cause the rear tires to spin and the car would actually fishtail; which would lead to someone in the next lane thinking that I was trying to street race them or something. :slight_smile:

The new tires go in the back. Otherwise, the car will likely go into a spin if traction is lost in a turn. Spins are very difficult to recover from, so they’re dangerous.

See if you don’t believe me.

I concur I recon I was wrong!

It does not matter much, If it did, auto mfrs. would specify this in owner’s manuals. I like new on the front too as fronts will clear a path for the rears to diminish hydroplaning and will provide better Winter starting and stopping traction with a front driver. Also my car has antilock brakes so front or rear tire traction is not a problem. Regarding skids, this is a red herring in my view. I have never had a skid with my car; live in a northern state with snow in the winter.

New on the rear gets you out of the tire installer’s door. After that you must rotate at 8000 miles or risk ruined tires. Will you then worry at 8000 miles? What do the tire people have to say about that?

I agree with OK. I put my new ones on the front, regardless of the rear wheel traction argument. Mine is purely an economic argument. I get a lot more additional miles out of the remaining two tires on the back than on the front with my front wheel drive car.

I think that anyone who goes into a spin because of a blown tire is probably contributing to that spin by their actions; panic and veer to the shoulder, yank the steering wheel, or the worst no-no of all - slamming on the brakes.

I’ve had 2 high speed blowouts (one in a car and one on a motorcyle), both were on the rear, and while the motorcycle one was a heart pounder, the steering was fine and both vehicles slowed to a stop in a straight line as long as the brakes were not touched at all. Lightly apply the brakes and it would cause all kinds of grief.

(The bike blowout was on a steep Interstate downgrade at 85 MPH and was caused by one of those long (12") nails that are used to fasten guttering to eaves on houses. The nail went in and instantly shredded the tube).

Winter starting and stopping traction with a front driver.

Starts yes, stops no.

Also my car has antilock brakes so front or rear tire traction is not a problem.

I would not bet on it.

Regarding skids, this is a red herring in my view. I have never had a skid with my car; live in a northern state with snow in the winter.

I live in Ohio and in over forty winters of driving, I have seen it lots of times.

My good rubber goes on the front!

I live where I only have 3 months without running the furnace in the house, up to 6 months driving in snow, slush, freezing rain, and a little salt thrown in to keep things slippery longer.

I have just always put the new tires on the front (FWD). I too, don’t enjoy my front-end hydroplaning or having my steering “go away.” I too, have never lost traction in the rear-end. I have tried in parking lots, without success.

I think it depends on the vehicle. I wouldn’t keep a car that had a rear-end that tries to pass the front-end once in a while.

When I worked a dearler in ancient times, I took a Green Nissan 200SX (or something like that) for a ride from the used car lot. I don’t know if there was something wrong with just that particular car or what. That thing could give you that “sickening here we go feeling” when turning on dry roads! It was like riding on a soap bubble, with the rear trying to pass the front. I became instantly home-sick and was exhausted by the time I got back. That car should have been crushed. My car wouldn’t handle like that with one or two flat tires!

My family cars don’t do that! Also, I go for lots of metal, long wheelbase, and wide track “Detroit Iron.”

“Since the rears are following on a pretty much cleared path”

Not true in a turn. And it’s in a turn that you don’t want the rear getting loose and causing oversteer.

“I get a lot more additional miles out of the remaining two tires on the back than on the front with my front wheel drive car.”

No an issue if you rotate your tires as the car maker recommends.

definately on the rear for better handling in wet conditions!try going fast round a bend with bald tyres on the back in the wet and it will spin out much quicker.