What to Know When Replacing Tires on AWD and FWD Vehicles

new tires on car

The condition of your tires is paramount when it comes to safety on the road, but no matter how carefully you drive, your tires still will wear over time. In order to maintain them, they might need to to be rotated, inflated, or replaced during routine inspections. The maintenance required can be affected by whether your vehicle is front wheel drive (FWD) or all wheel drive (AWD).

In a FWD vehicle the front tires are responsible for transmitting acceleration, steering, and most of the braking forces. This typically causes them to wear faster than the rear tires. One way to prevent uneven wear is by having them rotated regularly every 5,000 to 6,000 miles.

If the tires on a FWD vehicle are not rotated regularly, however, they will wear unevenly and possibly develop wear patterns such as cupping or feathering. In this instance you might find yourself needing to replace two tires sooner than you would all four.

AWD vehicles are especially useful on wet or slippery roads and on loose surfaces like sand and dirt. In an AWD vehicle, the driveline is designed so that the tires work in unison. They are also equipped with additional differentials or viscous couplings that are designed to allow brief differences in wheel speeds when necessary.

When the tires on an AWD vehicle are mismatched, the differentials or viscous couplings may be forced to work all the time, resulting in excessive tire wear. Even tread wear is important to keep your AWD system operating at its best so by replacing all four tires at the same time, you will ensure the safe performance that your vehicle was designed to deliver. It can also reduce strain on your vehicle’s driveline, helping prevent additional issues in the future.

Replacing all four tires at once is the best option in both AWD and FWD vehicles to ensure they remain the same size, design, and tread depth at every wheel position. If you do find yourself only replacing two though, be sure the new tires are put on the rear axle. This will help the driver maintain control on wet roads as rear tires with deep tread are better at resisting hydroplaning.

If you are in need of new tires, AAA Online Tire Store offers a wide selection of the top brands, free shipping on every purchase, and money saving offers from AAA Car Care. Members are eligible for additional discounts, but our services are available to members and non-members alike.

To learn more about caring for your tires and additional safety tips, visit AAA Talks for Tires 101. To make sure your tires are in optimal condition, bring your vehicle into AAA Car Care Center for an inspection. If needed, our certified technicians can help you choose the right tires for your vehicle and install them. Make an appointment for a free inspection today.


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