Tires: which end gets the new ones?

I’m reading lots of interesting points both ways. Here’s a question-if either position is ‘best’, how do you ever rotate tire? People rotate tire front to rear all the time, and they’re not crashing, leading me to believe the differences are not that great.

Thanks for the free advice (Do you know how much free advice is worth?). I already knew that and no, I won’t try it.

Reread my most previous post, the part about never losing rear-end traction and about good old heavy, wide, long, “Detroit Iron.”

However, I have this strange habit of not letting anyone in my family drive on bald or anywhere near bald, tires.

It’s kind of quirky but I won’t let my cars go out with worn out tires, bad brakes, fuel leaks, bad w/wipers, etc.

Call me old-fashioned, but I kind of take it upon myself to try and keep my family safe.

I am with Okie, fordx4, texases, and common sense. Put the new tires on the front, and then rotate often for even wear.

It is true there is a danger of spinouts if you have very worn tires on the rear, you are driving in sloppy conditions, and you drive like a maniac.

The tire manufacturers and retailers don’t want liability hassles – they are not going to ask their mechanics to make the judgement call of when old tires are too worn to be acceptable for the rear. So they insist ALL new tires go to the rear, be this sound advice or not to the owner.

But as long as you have good rubber on all four corners it really doesn’t make much difference which axle has marginally beter tires.

Rotate? What for?

I’m sure this will open another can of worms.

I have owned and operated a lot of cars, over lots of miles (we average probably 25k per vehicle per annum), over lots of years. We have 3 drivers, so far and we currently stand at 6 cars (24 tires! plus spares). I used to rotate tires. I used to trouble over being sure I didn’t forget or take too long to rotate, etc.

The awakening:

Now what I do is buy tires in pairs, when needed, putting new tires on the front, moving the former fronts to the rear, on the same side. I don’t rotate anymore. I don’t have all-wheel drive (and this is just one reason why), just good old FWD. I keep it simple…Pairs of tires go on the front, then straight to the rear, then to the recycler. I guess this is just a different form of rotating.

The “Read”

Conventional rotating is time consuming (costly if someone else does it) and robs one of important feed-back coming from the vehicle. Uneven tire wear let’s the owner know of alignment problems and other issues associated with tires and suspension. When you go moving the tires around then you lose not being able to “read” your tires in their assigned locations. I know I lose a little feed-back when I replace, but not as much (they are there for a long time, recording info). When I change spark plugs or even brake pads, I carefully keep track of location to get a “read” of conditions.

I have not suffered any great loss of traction, directional control, money, tire wear, sleep, dignity, or anything else from this method of tireology.

So what do you think? I won’t change if you disagree with me. It took me a lot of experimenting and years of practice to arrive at this conclusion.

Anybody out there doing the same?

You can help your steering tires regain traction by steering them into the skid. You can’t do that with the rear tires. They have to regain traction all on their own. They should be the better tires.

The truth is that front tires generally wear faster than rear tires. So rotating them evens out the wear. You are right about the differences not being that great. Most of us will never benefit from having better tires on the rear, but those of us who do will be thankful. So it comes down to whether you would rather save money on tires or be slightly safer. So when it comes to snow tires, I would put the good ones on the rear, but when it comes to all season tires, I will continue to rotate them.

Which ever end you put new tires on make sure you get the salesperson to check the age of the tires. Each tire has a set of numbers that he can check and tell you how old the tire is. I would not get one over 4 or 5 years old. The tire is new but it has been on the shelf for years and it tends to dry and over a period of miles and hot weather it can separate and may cause an accident. This came out after a father in I believe in PA purchased a set of tires and his son had a tire to separate, vehicle overturned and he died. So ask the dealer to check the age of each tire it may save a life.

Put me down in the new tires on front column. It’s been my experience that the front tires wear faster than the rear. Putting the new tires up front gives their tread a chance to catch up with the older tires a little before rotating. If you have a pair of tires that could be subject to loss of traction maybe you should be getting four tires instead of two.

The obvious answer is to purchase 4 tires at the same time, inflate them properly, rotate them on schedule, and align them when necessary.

If someone does these things, there is no need to decide where to place two tires, simply because all four tires would wear out at the same rate. If people begin by maintaining their car in a responsible manner, they can avoid many problems later on, and deciding where to mount 2 tires is only the tip of the iceberg, in terms of the problems and dilemmas that people cause for themselves by failing to be responsible with the maintenance of their vehicle.

Buying four tires would generally be best, but if you have a set of tires with 15,000 miles on them and have a failure that cannot be repaired, it doesn’t make sense to replace four tires. Thus begins an endless cycle of two tire replacement even for those of us who keep them rotated.

It is possible to have the tread “shaved” on the 2 new tires, so that they are approximately the same tread depth as the two old tires. Then, barring further unrepairable punctures, someone can resume buying 4 tires when the present set of tires wears out. This is not the cheapest solution, but I am more interested in safety than in economy.

I agree. I have read that someone is working on legislation that would require an easy to use “freshness date” on tires, just like on eggs or bread. Then possibly retailers would not be able to sell old tires as new.

There is no telling how long some tires sit before being sold. I think it would be scary!


The plot thickens:

Right from the factory, my car calls for a different tire size on the front than on the rear!

This hits close to home. Just yesterday I had to buy a new tire because of a sidewall puncture. I bought 2 tires to keep the tread depth the same on the axle and the shop prorated them. The ruined tire was a front tire and both front tires were more worn than the rears. Due to what I’ve heard and read through the years on cartalk I had them mount the new ones on the back and move the back ones to the front.

But, since I don’t have AWD, I really can’t see shaving a third of my new tires away just so I can replace them all at once in the future with my now older tires. This just seems like flushing money down the toilet. And if another tire gets ruined in the future I’m back in the same boat. It seems more prudent to replace my tires in pairs from now on and get more miles out of each pair. I don’t see where this trades safety for economy as long as I don’t let the tread get too low.

The new ones go on the rear.

The average car has about a 60/40 weight distribution, 60% of the weight in the front and 40% in the rear. This means that the rear tires have 50% more weight on them than the front tires. More weight means better traction. Putting the older tire on the rear exacserbates that traction difference, resulting in more likelihood of the rear end breaking free on wet surfaces with lateral loading, like on an exit ramp in the rain.

Not too many years ago I say a film of this theory tested at eth Michelin Test Facility. They tested a vehicle on wet pavement then shaved 50% of the tread off of two of the tires. They then retested with the shaved set on the front and on the rear. They theory was proven beyond question.

The best tires should be on the rear. Yeah, it seem counterintuitive to me too.

Very interesting. This is useful info for many types of vehicles and drivers.

I’m still going to put mine on the front to help from getting stuck just driving around here in our long winters. We get tons of snow and people get stuck on flat ground at the mailbox or traffic lights.

I’ll go for another 20 or 30 years this way and if I ever lose traction in the rear-end, I’ll reconsider.

I still think this issue has much to do with individual vehicle handling characteristics. Some cars don’t handle very well on clean, dry pavement. Other cars don’t have any bad habits. I would not have a car that gives me that “sickening here we go feeling” when driving in adverse conditions or on dry pavement.

Per (Who I would guess know infinitely more about tires than any of us)

Install New Pairs or Tires on the Rear Axle

When tires are replaced in pairs, the new tires should always be installed on the rear axle and the worn tires moved to the front. The reason is because new tires on the rear axle help the driver more easily maintain control on wet roads because new, deeper treaded tires are more capable of resisting hydroplaning.

“…the tires with the best tread should always be mounted on the REAR of the vehicle…”

So, I guess that means we can’t rotate tires anymore.

See for yourself:

Discount tire:

We set up 3 cars - 1) all new tires, 2) new tires on the back, worn tires on the front 3) New tires on the front, worn tires on the back.

Then we drove around a large skid pad where one section had some water running across it.

Car #1 - didn’t notice the water was there.

Car #2 - the front end hydroplaned, but once you left the water, you were pointed in the right direction and could regain conrol.

Car #3 - The rear end hydroplaned and spun around - there was no warning and there was no driving out of it.

I let 100’s of people drive the 3 cars and the results were always the same. And the folks at Discount Tire drove these cars as well. Either the person you talked to has first hand experience - or he talked to someone with first hand experience.

If I were to put you in those 3 cars - you’d be a believer, too!