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Should You Always Replace Car Tires in Pairs?

Should You Always Replace Car Tires in Pairs?

If you're wondering, “should you always replace car tires in pairs?” The short answer is yes. By replacing your car tires in pairs, you eliminate any problems with different spinning speeds among the tires that could cause some issues on the performance. Some manufacturers recommend replacing the four tires at a time, not even two.

Your vehicle’s tires are very critical elements, and they must be in good shape all the time to ensure the best traction to the road. There are many situations when your tires require replacement, and some of these situations might impact one tire more than the others. Therefore, you need to familiarize yourself with how to deal with such a situation.

Auto Repairs Are EXPENSIVE

Dealing with a flat tire is not a pleasant situation, and when it happens, it happens suddenly without any preparation. The first thing you think about immediately is to replace the one flat tire. However, that is not what automotive experts typically recommend. Let's take a closer look in this article at why it's not recommended to replace one tire at a time and Why should you always Replace tires in pairs?

Why should you avoid replacing one tire?

Automotive experts recommend that all vehicles have the same size and the same degree of rear, which is reflected on the tire tread. Failing to have similar tires result in such real negative consequences, including:

  • Your vehicle will not perform as it should, and you'll notice that when accelerating and braking
  • The vehicle will not be balanced because it will be leaned towards one side more than the other
  • The vehicle will not have the best traction characteristics, and it might cause safety issues
  • When the tires are not balanced, the problem does not only impact the interaction with the road but also other components, including the suspension system

Although automotive experts never recommend replacing one tire at a time, there are some instances where you might be able to do it, especially if you can find the same type of tires and the old ones are not significantly worn out.

For example, if your vehicle's tread depth measured as 32 inches and you decided to install a new one that doesn't have a big tread difference. Experts indicated that you could still do so without harming the tires or the other surrounding components.

Can I replace one car tire at a time in an AWD car?

Certain manufacturers do not prefer replacing one tire at a time. So even if your tires are in good condition, you still need to replace all four tires, not even two. In addition, they argue that newer tires will have different sizes, and the old ones will rotate faster than the new ones, causing some problems to the all-wheel-drive system.

Long story short, if you're driving a four-wheel-drive vehicle or an old-wheel drive car, it is better to replace all four wheels at a time to prevent dealing with complications that could impact your vehicle's performance.

Can I replace one car tire at a time in a front-wheel-drive car?

Like the all-wheel-drive vehicles, front or rear-wheel drive cars also might get impacted by replacing only one tire. Experts indicated that it is better to replace car tires in pairs, whether it's different or the rear axle.

By replacing the tires in pairs, you eliminate any problems resulting in different acceleration among the two tires. This way, the vehicle doesn't have to deal with false signals and traction issues impacting your safety.

What if you need to replace only one tire?

There are some instances where you have no other choice than to replace only one tire. If you decide to go this route, experts mentioned that you might install a new tire by performing what's known as “tire saving” where the mechanic takes away a layer from the tread and makes it matches the old tires.

Remember that tire shaving is not something you can do at any small independent shop unless they have the right toolset. Usually, dealerships will charge certain fees depending on the amount of terror shaving you're going for.

You must evaluate the two different scenarios and compare whether tire shaving will cost you somewhere close to replacing two tires at a time. It might be as simple as replacing the car tires in pairs save yourself a lot of headaches where the tire shaving does not really do the job it should.

How does a replacement of one tire only work?

Before you even investigate how to replace one tire only, you must refer to your vehicle's owner’s manual and confirm that it's OK to go ahead with one tire. Some manuals might specifically indicate that you cannot do that. If that's the case, no matter how careful you do it, replacing the entire might result in significant issues that could cost you thousands of dollars.

If you confirm that it's OK to replace one tire only, here's how it's done:

1-    2-wheel drive vehicles

When replacing one tire in either a rear or a front-wheel drive, you must determine the tire with the deepest tread. Once you determine that tire, you need to pair it with a new tire and place them on the rear axle.

Experts indicated clearly that when installing either one tire or two tires on any 2-wheel drive vehicle, the new set of tires must be installed on the rear axle. This way, you prevent any hydroplaning from happening, especially if you drive on wet roads.

2-    AWD or four-wheel drive vehicles

Replacing one tire on an all-wheel drive or 4-wheel drive vehicle is very critical. Any minor difference between the tire's diameters on the same axle results in significant issues and troubles with vehicle glitches in the drivetrain systems.

While you still might be able to replace one tire at a time on these vehicles, the risk of negative consequences is beyond what you're saving on tire replacement. Therefore, you are still recommended to avoid replacing one tire at a time.

3-    Staggered fitment vehicles

Some special types of vehicles are cooked with a certain system the tires in the front and back portions are missing. For example, you might find that the back tires are slightly larger or probably taller than the front ones.

Therefore, if you're planning to replace one tire at a time for such a vehicle, you need to refer to your vehicle's owner’s manual and understand whether it's possible in the first place or not. Otherwise, go ahead by replacing two tires and making sure that the two tires are identical to prevent damaging the vehicle.

What is a tire rotation?

If you're struggling with maintaining the same tear and wear across all tires, it is always recommended that you perform what's known as a tire rotation. Your mechanic will rotate tires at certain times to ensure even tear and wear distribution in the tire rotation.

In fact, certain manufacturers require you to perform tire rotation and failing to do so results in voiding your vehicle's warranty. Manufacturers understand the benefits of entering that you take full advantage of all tires and not rely on one set more than the other. By performing tire rotation, your manufacturer ensures that you don't overuse tires more than the others and preventing needing to replace one tire at a time as much as possible.

Should new tires be put on the front or back?

Experts recommend putting the new tires on the back portion. This is because the rear tires are responsible for providing the vehicle's ability. If they don't have the right tire depth, your vehicle will most likely skid or slip in what conditions and other extreme weather situations.


It is usually the mechanic's decision to place the new tires, and it is a very common convention of placing the new tires in the back. Therefore, you won't even need to search for this question unless you are replacing the tires by yourself.

Can you swap front and rear tires?

Swapping the front and rear tires is a very common practice, and it's known as what we mentioned earlier the tire rotation. During the tire rotation, your mechanic will rotate the tires from front to back and so on.

Tire rotation or tired swapping is recommended once every 6000 miles and probably 4000 miles, depending on your vehicle's owner’s manual. Your manual will clearly indicate when you should perform the thyroid tissue. Even though your manual will have a specific time frame, it is also recommended that you consult your mechanic because your vehicle's situation might require earlier tire rotation, especially if you drive in areas where the roads are not paved properly.

Do cheap tires wear quicker?

It is a great idea to look for ways to save money on any vehicle maintenance. However, you must be very mindful about how much you save versus what you're going to deal with.

There are plenty of common larger manufacturers who produce high-quality tires referred to as premium tires. However, Goodyear, Michelin, and Dunlop require slightly higher costs than other less famous tires with lower quality.

Although it might sound that you can go ahead with purchasing a cheaper tire, what you need to know is that cheaper tires usually wear quicker than high-quality tires. Therefore, you must evaluate the situation completely and look beyond the initial cost. Think about how often you need to replace the cheaper tires and compare it to the overall time the high-quality tires are expected to last.

According to experts, going with higher quality tires helps you get the best quality, achieved the greatest safety, maintain the highest performance, and deal with tires issues.

How do I know when to get new tires?

Understanding how to know if your tires are due for replacement is very critical for every driver. This way, you prevent dealing with safety issues, especially if the winter season is approaching.

You must start with your vehicle's owner’s manual to get an accurate idea about winter to replace your vehicle's tires. However, there are some scenarios when you need to replace the tires before what's mentioned in the manual. Therefore, here are some hints to help you determine when your tires are due for replacement:


The tires are one of the most important elements in your vehicle because they work directly and interact with the road. Without perfectly running tires, you risk your life and the life of people around you on the road, especially during extreme weather conditions.

It's not rare to deal with situations where one of the tires gets damaged for any reason. Unfortunately, it is never recommended that you replace one tire at a time, especially if you're driving a car with an all-wheel-drive or a four-wheel drive. There might be some scenarios where you can replace one tire at a time if you're driving a 2-wheel drive car. However, it still risks impacting the vehicle's performance and probably damaging some of this routing component in the suspension system.

If your car has other major problems like a damaged, probably a faulty transmission, it might not even be worth replacing all four tires or even two tires. In that case, you recommended evaluating whether it's worth selling your car and using the money towards a better vehicle that doesn't have such issues.

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