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The Tire Rack's Tire & Wheel Forum
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Old 11-28-2011, 04:05 PM   #1
SF323Ci
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Mismatched Tires - Better tires in Front or Back?

I have 4 crappy Capitol 225/45/17's at the moment; they were new when I bought the car 15k miles ago. The fronts are fine, the rears are probably past 50% and wearing unevenly.

As of last night, one of the rears also has a nice big screw dead center in the tread. I think one of my neighbors has it in for me. I've already spent my tire budget for this quarter replacing the rear on my motorbike (did I mention someone is out to get me?).

I can get a really good deal on a pair of Pirelli P-ZERO NERO's, so I think I'm going to go ahead and replace just the rear tires. I have enough grip for the kind of driving I do already (never broken traction without really trying to), and I am assuming the Pirelli's will be better than what I have. I know it's less than ideal to mismatch tires, but I'll even it out a few months down the line.

My question is - do I put the better tires up front or in the back? I'm wondering if front makes more sense, so that if I ever do lose traction unexpectedly it will be in the back, giving me more control? Losing the wheels I steer/brake with while the driven wheels are still gripping seems like a scarier prospect than having the back end potentially slide around.
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Old 11-28-2011, 08:40 PM   #2
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Better tires in the front. Having said that, if you're short on cash, why don't you just patch the tire and call it a day? And get an alignment and rotate tires if they are wearing unevenly.
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Old 11-28-2011, 08:45 PM   #3
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Better tires in back. You don't want the ass end to come out in a turn. Ask your local tire shop. They will tell you the same. Or get matching tires ASAP.
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Old 11-28-2011, 08:49 PM   #4
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i say better tires in the front. if the back slides you can save it usually, if the front slides, usually its followed by bad crushing noises.
Plus they do the stopping and the steering.
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Old 11-28-2011, 09:49 PM   #5
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Better tires in the front as long as you know how to control oversteer
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Old 11-29-2011, 08:06 AM   #6
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from a safety perspective, you want the good tires in back. Because, if you brake hard in the rain, you'll hydroplane and the rear will come around on you.

In ideal conditions though, bald in back
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Old 11-29-2011, 11:44 AM   #7
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It seems like on the rear is the way to go (about a 50/50 split here and unanimous 'rear' from tire shops and the car talk guys).

I'm guessing if I keep what I have in front I'll be no more likely to lose traction up front if I keep driving the way I normally drive, but if I run less grippy tires in the rear I run the risk of the back wheels trying to overtake the front under normal conditions because of the mismatched traction rather than the severity of the turn / braking event - and a spin is not something I can get out of easily. Sound plausible?
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Old 11-29-2011, 12:00 PM   #8
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New/better tires on the rear.


http://www.tirerack.com/a.jsp?a=BN4&....jsp&techid=52
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Old 11-29-2011, 12:16 PM   #9
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wow, interesting read Gary. if it were anyone else i'd say w/e, but you guys are the SME. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 11-30-2011, 03:10 PM   #10
SF323Ci
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Rear it is then.
Thanks guys.
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Old 12-03-2011, 12:13 PM   #11
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This shows the difference with better and worse new tires fitted to the front respectively to the rear.


In Swedish, but 0:37-> shows test winning tires on the rear
and 1:04-> test losing tires on the rear

Same tread depth, different brands.

And one point is that cars are better built for frontal collision than from the sides or rear so you'd rather crash with the front first.
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Old 12-03-2011, 03:20 PM   #12
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Better in the rear esp if over 4/32" tread difference, if not then can be rotated to even out wear (better on front for front wheel drive vehicles). If you start to hydroplane with bad tires in the front you'll feel it in the steering wheel and you can slow your ass down. If you start to hydroplane with bad ones in the rear... it may be too late.
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Old 12-03-2011, 05:45 PM   #13
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better in the front, at least you will be able to slow down in time.
although I dont think it will snow that heavily in SF, it just snowed in Nebraska and my almost bald front tires are making stopping very difficult.
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Old 12-13-2011, 04:58 PM   #14
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although I dont think it will snow that heavily in SF
My car sees rain at most 15 days a year, and for most of those it's under cover, I don't think it's ever even seen snow.
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Old 12-13-2011, 05:24 PM   #15
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better in the front, at least you will be able to slow down in time.
although I dont think it will snow that heavily in SF, it just snowed in Nebraska and my almost bald front tires are making stopping very difficult.
Looks like mamma's wrong again.
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Old 04-03-2012, 01:42 PM   #16
SF323Ci
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Ran mismatched for a couple of months, then got 4 new 225/45/R17 Yokohama Avid Envigors. So far so good - they're quiet and grippy, and had the highest tread wear rating of anything on offer. Should be just fine for my style of driving (90% sedate, 10% 'spirited').
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