What Position Should New Tires Be In When Only Replacing Two?

hydroplaning tire

In an ideal world, the four tires on your vehicle would always be the same size, design, and tread depth at every wheel position. If your tires have worn unevenly or you acquired your vehicle with a mismatched set though, you may find yourself needing to replace less than the full set. This is typically the case with front wheel drive vehicles that haven’t had their wheels regularly rotated, as the front tires will tend to wear more quickly.

The question then becomes, where does the new pair of tires go? New tires should always be installed on the rear axle with the partially worn tires moved to the front. By putting the new tires with deeper tread on the rear axle, you ensure greater control on wet roads.

Hydroplaning occurs due to a combination of tread depth/design and tire size/pressure in relation to water depth and the vehicle’s speed and weight. It’s dangerous for either end to lose traction, but it’s much easier to control your vehicle with the front tires hydroplaning than when it’s the rear. By installing the tires with less tread depth on the front axle, you increase the likelihood that the front tires hydroplane first, quickly alerting you to the more manageable situation.

In the case of an all wheel drive vehicle, you would ideally want to change all four tires at the same time. By replacing the full set you will get the safe performance that your vehicle was designed to have and could possibly reduce strain on your vehicle’s driveline. It is possible to replace less than a full set on an all wheel drive vehicle, but certain parameters must be met. An automotive professional at AAA Car Care Center can inspect your tires to see if they meet these parameters.

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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