When it’s time to replace the tires on your vehicle many questions arise. Should I buy four or two tires? Can I mix brands? What type of tire should I choose? We know these are complicated waters to navigate so we wanted to help by providing a few guidelines. Of course it’s always smart to reference your owner’s manual and/or consult your local General Tire dealer.
Can I Mix Tires?
As a general rule, tires should not be mixed on any vehicle unless specified as acceptable by the tire or vehicle manufacturer. Drivers should avoid mixing tires with different tread patterns, internal constructions or sizes (unless front and rear staggered sizes are specified by the vehicle manufacture), and use identical tires on all of their vehicle's wheel positions in order to maintain the best control and stability. Additionally, drivers should never mix winter tires with all-season/summer tires, or mix run-flat tires with non-run-flat tires.
In an ideal situation, all a vehicle's tires wear out at the same time. When this happens, it’s confirmation that the vehicle design, driving conditions and maintenance practices worked in unison to equalize tire wear and performance. It also lets drivers know they got their money's worth out of the current tires and allows them to choose a set of replacements that will either maintain the Original Equipment (OE) tires' capabilities, or help tune the vehicle's qualities to even better suit their needs.
Should I Replace All Four Tires or Two?
Unfortunately wearing out all tires at the same time isn't always possible. Sometimes vehicle design, the use of differently sized tires on front and rear axles, insufficient maintenance, and/or driving conditions conspire to prevent it from happening.
If a vehicle's tires don't all wear out at the same time, drivers are typically forced to either purchase a set of four new tires or a pair of replacements. While purchasing a set of four new tires is best because it will maintain the handling balance engineered into the vehicle while restoring poor weather traction, it is also more expensive. And while purchasing a pair of replacement tires reduces immediate expense, it brings with it the options of choosing exact, equivalent or alternative tires.
If opting for two new tires, place them on the rear of the vehicle, not the front. Worn tires on the rear provide less traction and lower hydroplaning resistance thus, losing their grip on wet roads, causing the rear of the vehicle to shift around out of control. Placing the new tires on the rear provides a deeper tread with greater hydroplaning resistance to help grip the wet roads. The driver can steer to compensate for the worn front tires and maintain control safely.
How Should I Choose A Replacement Tire?
An excellent choice is to select the OE tire currently on the vehicle. This assures that the tires physical dimensions, internal construction, tread design, and key performance attributes are equal to the tires being replaced.
Another option is to choose equivalent tires from the same tire performance category that share the same tire size and speed rating. This can be an excellent choice because the consumer may want a different performance attribute than the vehicle manufacturer specified. Vehicle manufacturers select tires for a broad range of consumers that live in many climates. In the Northern US, an all-season tire that performs better in the wet and snow is probably of interest. On the other hand, a spirited driver, may want a tire that has quicker response and more grip in the dry. A tire is a major contributor to the overall performance of the vehicle. Remember, the tire’s contact patch is the only contact you have with the road.
Choosing a tire that is not OE or within the same performance category is not a good option. This should only be considered as a temporary solution in an emergency situation. Using alternative tires from different tire performance categories, with alternate sizes or different speed ratings can unbalance the vehicles handling in poor weather or when pushed to the limit in an emergency.
Because tires play such an important role in every vehicles comfort qualities and handling capabilities, it is always best to drive on tires that are identical in every detail, including tire brand, model, size, and remaining tread depth. Anything else involves some type of compromise.
Visit your local General Tire dealer for more information. You can find your local dealer by using our Dealer Locator.