Do I need to replace more than one tire at a time? – JD Power | CarTailz

Replacing a tire can be daunting, especially if you have All Wheel Drive (AWD). You often have to change all the tires at once. It might not make sense to discard three perfectly working tires just because the fourth needs to be replaced. However, once you understand the underlying wheel dynamics, you will see why this is a good idea.

Various manufacturers and car experts have determined that a vehicle should have four matching tires. The type, model and even the degree of wear should be the same. Having all four tires the same ensures cornering, braking and acceleration are balanced and predictable. However, if any of these factors differ between two wheels, that difference will affect traction characteristics and performance.

In today’s article we discuss when you need to change your tires and what to consider if you only need to replace one or two tires instead of all four.

Change is the only constant

There are various reasons for changing or replacing a tire and one of the first things to consider is tire tread depth. The profile on new tires ranges from 10/32 inches to 12/32 inches. The tire tread must be changed if it is less than 4/32 inch as failure to do so could result in fatal accidents. Lower tread depths are deadly on wet roads, as vehicles are at greater risk of skidding and crashes. Lower treads prevent the car from braking immediately and add lag time to the car’s response.

The front tires carry the weight of the engine and wear out much faster than the rear tires. They also take the total weight of the car when it is steered in different directions, causing additional friction and wear.

It’s important to rotate your tires regularly to prevent faster wear of just the front tires. The rotation ensures that all tires wear out at the same time and you don’t have to worry about changing fully functional tires.

Another reason for changing a tire could be a loss of tire pressure. The tire pressure monitoring system or TPMS sensors inform you about low tire pressure. However, do not rely on the TPMS to send you a tire change notification. Check all tires manually before each ride.

The most common reason for changing tires after tires wear out while driving is aging. Tires age, just like any other car part. The deteriorating quality can become a security risk.

Now let’s take a look at the factors to consider before just changing a tire.

Things to consider when changing just a tire or two

Sometimes you can change just one or two tires instead of all four. Here are the factors to consider before doing so.

  • The Tire Type – Tires have patterns and cuts, and while shopping for the tire you need to replace, it’s wise to buy tires from the same company and model. It is important to note that the tread texture should be the same or similar for all to ensure a balanced ride. Subtle differences in the diameter of the tire can affect its behavior when braking, accelerating, cornering or handling water. Make sure the new tires have the same profile as the old ones or something similar.
  • Careful Tread – If you don’t want to suffer the consequences of replacing just a few tires, it is advisable to check whether the remaining tread of the other tires is sufficient or not. If the tires are new, changing just one or two tires may be enough. However, when they are old, changing just a few of them will be difficult. You need to make sure the difference between the old tires and the new tires doesn’t exceed 4/32 inches to literally stay on the safe side.
  • Type matters – We recommend swapping out all four tires for an AWD as the higher profile of new tires will cause them to spin slower than the older, lower profile tires due to a smaller diameter. When a vehicle’s wheels move at different speeds, it can stress the engine and some components can fail, causing major damage.


If you’ve decided to change just one tire, it’s time to choose its location. Depending on the situation and the profile of the tires, it is advisable in most cases to mount the new tires on the rear axle. It prevents oversteer, skidding and vehicle instability. If you have your car checked routinely, make sure tire tread and tire management are part of that routine. Remember to change your tires regularly, check air pressure and repair flat tires.

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