It’s not good to mix and match tire treads on any vehicle.
In this article, we’ll dive into your vehicle’s tires, when to replace them, and what happens when you mismatch them.
Should All Tires Have the Same Tread Pattern?
The treads on your tires need to match in order to provide stable traction and help distribute the vehicle’s weight evenly across the road. When all four tires on the same vehicle have different tread patterns you may experience issues with vibrations and less torque.
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Mismatched Tires Can Wear Unevenly
When you have four contrasting tire treads, they can wear out at different paces. This decision to save money can be costly because you’ll have to change them more frequently.
The best option is to replace all four tires at the same time, so they wear evenly.
If you can’t replace them all, the second-best option is to keep the same two front tires or the same two back tires. That way, they match and will wear out at a similar pace.
Mismatched Tires Can Affect Traction
Another problem you can experience is traction. The various treads can grip the road differently, affecting your vehicle’s handling.
This is especially dangerous in slick conditions like rain or snow.
It can also make your car feel unstable.
Not only is this a costly problem, but it’s also unsafe. The instability can lead to an accident.
Is It OK to Have Tires With Different Tread Depth?
Different tread depths won’t damage your vehicle. But it may not be the best idea from a safety standpoint.
If one tire has significantly less tread than the others, it won’t be able to grip the road as well. This can lead to skidding and slipping, which is dangerous.
It’s possible to have slightly different tread depths entirely by accident. For example, most people aren’t aware that brands can vary in tread depth.
One brand may have deeper treads than another, even if they’re the same size. So, it’s always a good idea to check the tread depth of your tires before you buy them.
Although using tires from different manufacturers may not damage your vehicle, the difference in tread depth is still a problem.
Should You Have More Tread on Front or Rear Tires?
We’ve already explained that you should replace all four tires at once or do it in pairs. This situation means you will experience a difference in the tread on two out of four wheels.
The front set on your vehicle does most of the work. They steer and brake, so they have to grip the road well.
For that reason, it’s usually a good idea to have more tread on the front tires than on the back ones.
That way, they can provide the traction you need when you’re braking or turning. The back tires don’t have to work as hard, so they don’t need as much tread.
If you live in an area with a lot of rain or snow, you may want to consider having more tread on all four tires. That way, you’ll have better traction no matter which way you turn.
The best way to handle this is with tire rotation.
You can rotate your tires every 5,000 miles or more often if you use your vehicle for towing or travel with heavy loads frequently. The weight causes additional wear and tear.
Regularly rotating your tires will help them wear evenly.
Maintenance is the key to preserving the life of your tires. It also saves you money.
Other benefits of regular tire rotation include:
- Reduced risk of hydroplaning
- Smoother ride
- Better vehicle performance
- Decreased noise
When you take your vehicle to your service shop to rotate the tires, they’ll also check the air pressure and look for any signs of damage.
What About Cars With All-Wheel Drive?
Vehicles with all-wheel drive should have all the same size treads. However, the same advice for two- or four-wheel replacements doesn’t change between AWD and FWD.
It’s still best to do all four at once.
If you have to replace two, put the new ones on the front or back. That way, they’ll match the other two and wear evenly.
You’ll also want to make sure the difference isn’t too significant. Most experts recommend keeping it below 3/32nds of an inch. This can lead to another problem: tire circumference difference.
The front and rear tires on an AWD vehicle are the same sizes, but the circumference may be slightly different because of the wear.
If one is too small, it can cause problems with your speedometer or odometer. The difference in circumference is usually only a few inches, so it doesn’t take much to throw off your readings.
Another problem is that it might cause your car to slip out of gear.
If the difference is too significant, you may also notice vibrations in your vehicle. This problem happens because the wheels no longer turn at the same speed.
You can solve this problem by having your tires professionally measured. They can tell you if the difference is too significant and needs to be addressed.
Can Mismatched Tires Cause Vibrations?
One of the most common problems people experience with mismatched tires is vibration. This noise can be dangerous and highly annoying, especially on long trips.
It’s caused by the different treads gripping the road in different ways. The vibrations are usually more pronounced at high speeds.
If you’re experiencing vibrations, the best thing to do is to have your tires balanced. This will help even out the tread and reduce the vibrations. Balance the tires every time the wheels are rotated for optimal performance.
You may also want to consider having your tires aligned. This will help ensure that they’re gripping the road in the same way.
Other reasons you may experience vibrating tires include:
- Worn out shocks or struts
- Badly worn brakes
- Loose wheel bearings
- Damaged tires
If you check your tread and it’s okay, it may be one of these other issues.
The best way to find out is to take your car to a professional, otherwise, you might experience that one tire will wear faster than the rest.
How Often Should You Check The Tread?
You should check the tread on your tires regularly. The best way to do this is with a tire tread depth gauge.
You can usually find these at your local auto parts store. They’re relatively inexpensive, so there’s no excuse not to have one.
To use it, simply insert the gauge into the tread. If the tread is shallow, you’ll see less of the metal than if it’s deep.
Most experts recommend checking the tread at least once a month. This is especially important if you live in an area with a lot of rain or snow.
You should also check the tread after any major road trips. This will help you catch any problems early on.
Can You Do It Yourself?
You can, if you have a few instructions from the mechanic the next time you go visit.
If you don’t have the time or want to check yourself, you can always take your car to a professional.
They’ll be able to tell you if the tread is getting too low and needs to be replaced.
Depending on your state, annual vehicle inspections may also include a tread check. Many state inspections have a requirement that your tires have a tread depth of at least 2/32nds of an inch.
This is the legal minimum, but it’s not recommended. Most experts agree you should replace your tires when they get down to 4/32nds of an inch.
This may seem like a minor difference, but it can make a big difference in your safety.
The deeper the tread, the more grip it has on the road. This is especially important in wet or icy conditions. For drivers that handle long, heavy hauls, having tires with deeper treads can also help improve fuel economy.
If you’re not sure how to check the tread depth, you can always take your car to a professional. They’ll be able to do it quickly and easily.