There is a lot of knowledge that we knew to be true that later turned out to actually be false. Call them myths. Call them old wives’ tales. But we know now that cracking your knuckles does not cause arthritis, that being cold doesn’t mean you’ll suffer from a cold, and handling a toad won’t make you break out in warts.
The tire industry has its own fallacies and one of the biggest is where to place new tires when only two are being installed.
Myth: Most consumers – and many tire dealers – believe that new tires should be placed on the front axle.
Supporting scenario 1: Some claim that the newer tires have less chance of a blowout and that placing the new tires on the front will allow you to steer the vehicle in the event of a malfunction.
Supporting scenario 2: Some say that new tires should be placed on the drive axles, which in many cases is the front axle.
Both of these scenarios have been proven to be false. The key to debunking the myth and their supporting scenarios is understanding how traction – how the tire grips the road – affects vehicle dynamics and handling.
Assume that you are driving a vehicle that has 2 worn out tires and two that are worn down by 2/32 or more on a wet road surface. You are planning to replace the two worn out tires. If the new tires are installed on the front axle, this can lead to a condition called oversteer. Oversteer occurs when the rear tires loose grip on the road. Say you turn the steering wheel to avoid an object or change lanes, and the rear of the vehicle loses traction because the worn tires aren’t gripping the road as well as the front tires. This causes the rear of the vehicle to fish tail or skid to one side. Once the vehicle starts to spin, i.e., spin out, it is very difficult, even for a professional driver, to regain control. At this point even the driver is a passenger, because they have no control over the direction of the vehicle.
Why Go Tire installs on the rear axle
Go Tire’s TIA certified installers install the two new tires on the rear axle of the vehicle (even if it is front wheel drive) and leave the worn tires on the front axle. In the same wet conditions, if you turn the wheel to avoid an object or approach a curve too fast, the front tires may lose traction and begin to slide, but you will likely feel it through the steering wheel, compensate appropriately and continue to keep the nose of the vehicle forward. This condition is known as understeer. The rear tires with more traction will tend to keep the vehicle in line and allow you to maintain control by easing off of the throttle or gas pedal and slowing the vehicle.
To see this demonstrated, check out this safety video from Michelin Tire.