Do not treat your tires as `fit and forget` component of your car. Scheduled inspection of the tires and related steering and suspension components are really necessary to ensure that uniform wear takes place on all the tires.
Before we answer the question, `Where do you put 2 new tires?`, let us examine the situation that may arise when only 2 new tires are required.
Usually the rear tires wear out quite evenly on a rear or front wheel drive vehicle as long as the rear axle settings have not been disturbed due to accident or modification.
- Premature, uneven tire wear can take place on both front tires due to incorrect wheel alignment, incorrect tire pressure settings or even wear and tear on steering and suspension related component parts. When premature tire wear has taken place due to lack of maintenance, it is inevitable that the affected tires need to be replaced after identifying and repairing or replacing the defective steering and suspension parts. More often than not, 2 new tires must be replaced for safety reasons.
Now we have a situation where we have 2 partly worn and 2 new tires. The question now arises,`Where do you put 2 new tires`?
- Based on tire manufacturer recommendation, the 2 new tires should be mounted to the rear and the partly worn tires should be mounted to the front immaterial of whether it is a front wheel drive, rear wheel drive or 4 wheel drive.
Many drivers would argue that the steered front wheels should get the new tires instead of the trailing rear wheels which do not play a major role in the maneuvering of the vehicle. While that argument may be partly true, there seems to be a more important safety aspect that must be taken into consideration.
Maintaining vehicle stability on varying road conditions is vital for the safety of all road users. An accident is inevitable should the vehicle go out of control. Most drivers on the road today do not have any experience or training on how to control a vehicle when the front or rear end of the vehicle starts to slide and the vehicle does not move in the intended path as directed by the steering.
Depending on speed and acceleration and the condition of the tires, there are two common phenomena of vehicle dynamics that drivers must be aware.
- Under steer– this term is used to describe a condition where the front tires of the vehicle starts to slip or slide when going around a corner. This results in the vehicle taking a turn less sharply than intended. In other words, the path that it takes is less than desired.
- Over steer– this term is used to describe a more dangerous condition where the rear tires start to slip and the vehicle takes a turn more sharply than intended. In a worst case scenario, this can result in the vehicle spinning out of control. As the illustration shows, the vehicle may end up pointing in the opposite direction against traffic flow which may lead to a serious accident.
An under steer condition can easily be corrected by slowing down and steering the vehicle back to track. A lot more skill and the right frame of mind is needed to correct a vehicle that has gone into an over steer spin. At all cost, an over steer situation must be avoided.
Tires with sufficient tread depth offer better grip on wet and dry road conditions and therefore it is safer to be installed on the rear in order to minimize the chances of over steer on slippery road conditions.
In more expensive present day vehicles, it is a common feature to have a traction and stability control device (VSC or commonly known as Vehicle Stability Control) that assists the driver to control a vehicle that is going into under steer or over steer condition. While such safety devices assist driver control and for such devices to work as intended, good roadworthy tires with sufficient tread depth is paramount. Some degree of slip correction can be obtained depending entirely on the vehicle speed and acceleration at the time of such occurrence.
As responsible road users, we need to keep a close watch on the tread depth of our vehicle tires. Before it reaches minimum levels, tires must be replaced for the safety of our family and other road users.
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