You may have heard that all four car tires should ideally be replaced at the same time. However, there may be a situation where you have to replace one tire due to an emergency. In such a situation, can you use a tire of any brand to make the replacement?
Replacing only one car tire with a different brand is unsafe. It can lead to several issues, including problems with the car’s gear ratios, suspension, and transmission, and reduced tread life. Ideally, all of your tires should be the same in terms of tread design, age, treadwear, size, and brand.
That said, some situations may not allow switching out all your tires at once. In this article, I’ll go over everything you need to know if one of your tires has seen its last day. Keep reading to learn more!
Why You Shouldn’t Replace One Tire With a Different Brand
If you cannot replace all the tires at the same time, you should aim to minimize the differences between your new and old ones. This means buying new tires from a different brand is highly inadvisable.
Tires from different manufacturers will not be the same size. Even if the size advertised in inches is the same, there are factors that can lead to minor size variances, including:
- Production procedures
- Rubber compound quality
- Tread pattern
Furthermore, tires from different brands don’t handle the same, even if they’re the same type and size.
Handling depends on many factors like the material and quality of the tread compound, tire stiffness, and design — and no two tire models are identical.
Your best bet is to ensure your new tire(s) are the same brand, model, and size as your old ones.
Why You Shouldn’t Replace Only One Tire at a Time
The main issue with switching out only one out of four tires is that the newly installed one will have a different tread depth.
A tire’s tread depth is an essential consideration you need to pay attention to. It plays a crucial role in determining its braking, cornering, and accelerating capabilities. This means that if one of the tires is newer, the performance across the entire axle won’t be consistent.
The ultimate result will be an unbalanced drive. Your car will also be at a higher risk of sliding out of control when one tire behaves differently from the rest.
Additionally, the new tire may stop quicker or grip the road better, which will, again, cause an unstable ride.
The new tire will also differ in size and rubber compound quality, especially if the new tire is from a different brand.
The Vehicle’s Electronic Systems Can Be Compromised
Modern cars have many mechanical and electronic systems built into them for optimized performance and efficiency, such as differential locks, anti-lock braking, etc. However, these systems may not function as intended if you replace only one of your tires with a new one.
Having one tire different from the rest can cripple several electronic systems in your car, including:
- ABS braking
- Traction control
In some cases, they can even lead to life-threatening accidents.
The Vehicle’s Axels Would Be Imbalanced
A car has two axles, one front and one rear. Each axle consists of two wheels, and both the tires on an axle should be the same to avoid any significant unbalance or performance inconsistencies.
For optimal performance and safety, all four of your tires should ideally be the same in every way. However, that may not be possible in some situations, especially in the case of an emergency.
If that’s the case, you should attempt to replace at least two tires. Having two different tires on the same axle is a huge no-no.
The Vehicle’s Performance Is Compromised
If you’re only replacing two of your car’s tires, it’s better to put both of them on the rear axle.
Newer tires will have more tread than the old, roughed-up ones, and the back of your vehicle can make more use out of better tread depth in terms of traction, handling, and wet grip.
Having new tires in the front also increases the risk of hydroplaning, making it more likely that your vehicle will spin out.
On the other hand, new tires with deeper tread on the back can:
- Improve overall stability
- Reduce oversteer
- Better overall performance in rainy weather
On the other hand, having roughed up tires in the front means the driver will feel traction loss sooner, giving him more time to react.
When You Need to Replace All Four Tires
In many cases, you might get away with replacing only two tires at the same time. However, that’s not always advisable.
The Other Three Tires Are Old
If the rest of your tires are also considerably old and roughed up, all of them will need to go. Chances are, none of them have sufficient tread left on them, and one or two new tires will not provide a safe solution.
If you were already experiencing traction problems before losing one of your tires, there’s no way to replace only a few tires rather than the whole set.
You Drive an All-Wheel-Drive Vehicle
Minor differences between one or more tires of your vehicle are somewhat manageable in front-wheel-drive and rear-wheel-drive vehicles.
However, if you drive an all-wheel-drive (AWD) car, most tire brands and experts suggest replacing the entire tire set altogether.
Having different tires on an AWD vehicle can damage its critical components due to increased strain on certain parts — leading to costly repairs.
There are various factors that affect the performance of tires from different brands. This means that a new tire from a different brand will result in an unbalanced, unstable, and unsafe ride.
It will also be a handicap for the electronic and mechanical systems built into your vehicle.
However, in most cases, you can get away with replacing two tires rather than all four, unless your tires are very old or you drive an AWD car.
If you decide to only replace two tires, remember to install them on the rear axle for more traction and wet grip.
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