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Tires for All-Wheel drive vehicle, Beware!


Blog3 9 20129092446Beware when buying tires for All-wheel drive vehicle. What you should know.

Recently we had a 2004 Chrysler Pacifica come into our shop for service. Two of the tires were worn beyond the safe point to drive, which is 2/32nds of an inch in tread depth (New is 10-12/32nds). The other two tires were measured at 7/32nds. The rule of thumb is to keep the difference in tread depth less than 3/32nds.

I know, this is confusing even for us sometimes. So, what did we do? We sold him two new tires that had a tread depth of 10-32nds affectively reducing the difference between the depths. It was a difference of 5/32nds, now it's 3/32nds. Well that turned out to be the wrong decision. When we replaced the tires, the model of tire that he had was no longer available, so we went with a similar but not exact match to the tread design.

The next day the customer was on a two hour trip, when his differential literally exploded. The differential is a component on all four-wheel drive vehicles that transfers the energy to each wheel from the engine/transmission. Once this happens, the vehicle will no longer move as was the case. Thank God no one was hurt.

So why did this happen? 

Once the vehicle was towed in, the damage was obvious. We started assessing the vehicle,

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  • The tires were remeasured. Fronts were 7/32nds, rears were 10/32nds. 
  • We measured the circumference of each tire. Fronts were 91.5", the rears were 92.25". A 3/4" difference. Chrysler told us there should not be more than .25" difference. Uh Oh!
  • Next we mounted the two original tires back on the vehicle and measured them. They were 90.25", a 1.25" difference. What?!?

So to be clear, by replacing the two tires we reduced the circumference differential by .75" and the tread depth by 2/32nds. This is supposed to be good. The speed rating was identical, but the tread design was different.

We concluded that the tread design was the culprit. We replaced the transfer case and installed two more tires to match. Car fixed.

So what should you do?

  • Your tires all have to be the same brand and model. This can be a factor when you buy tires on special. If it's on special because it is being discontinued, Don't buy it!!!  You may not be able to find one 6 months later if needed
  • Rotate your tires every 5-6k miles especially if you drive an All-Wheel drive vehicle
  • If you damage a tire beyond repair, and the tread depth is 5/32nds or half worn, then you can buy just one tire. There are services out there that will wear the replacement tire to any depth required, in this case it's 5/32nds 

Let me have already made the mistake for you. 

If you have run into this or a similar problem, please comment below. I would love to hear from you. 

Brian Hohmann, owner of Accurate Automotive


Its always best to keep safety in mind when it comes to tires. Cars are useful but can be very dangerous.
Posted @ Thursday, April 19, 2012 5:59 PM by tires las vegas
I never knew that there are so many things to be taken care of while buying tires. Thanks for the above mentioned tips. I will certainly take care of these things. 
<a href ="">Smart Car Service
Posted @ Thursday, October 25, 2012 2:45 AM by jennie_parker
A friend of mine was told that any time an AWD vehicle needed a tire replaced, all the tires must be replaced w/o even taking tire measurements or else the ABS, etc sensors would not work.????
Posted @ Saturday, June 01, 2013 12:38 PM by Bob
My son in-law replaced 1 tire on my daughters 1992 Subaru, all-wheel dr. station is not the same size as the other 3. The transmission has gone out. A service tech told me all tires have to be the same and they have to be a specific size (185-70-14) to avoid the transmission from damage....Am I getting the correct info?
Posted @ Monday, June 03, 2013 10:28 AM by wende
Tires and wheels should be in best condition while long journey.. 
And few point on tires and wheels which you have given in this article really useful.. 
Thank for giving information on the tires and wheels
Posted @ Monday, September 09, 2013 12:09 AM by Auto Repairs Calgary
Yes! Safety is the key point of concern in the vehicles. Brand of all the tires of your vehicle should the same. This can really be crucial factors for any car. It would make your car's exterior look beautiful and at the same time would also improve car's efficiency. 
Posted @ Friday, October 04, 2013 3:43 AM by Matt Rankin
At the time of buying a vehicle or replacing tires, proper attention should be given on tire because wrong choice of car tire leads to accident. So beware when buying tires for All-wheel drive vehicle. A lot of factors are to be taken into consideration at the time of replacing tires which has mentioned in this blog clearly. So every vehicle riders should follow this blog thoroughly for maintaining tire properly.  
We have to choose good repair and service center like Porsche Repair Wilsonville for getting better service at the time of replacing tires or any other service.
Posted @ Friday, January 03, 2014 1:31 AM by Marion
Tire is important for smooth running of the car so wrong choice of car tire can cause problem at the time of traveling. So before buying car tire the driver should consult with expert mechanics for choosing best tire for car. Replacement of tire should also be done by the expert mechanic in good German Auto Repair Ventura shop for better replacement.
Posted @ Friday, January 24, 2014 4:44 AM by Noble
This is an article regarding tires for all wheel drive cars
Posted @ Saturday, March 01, 2014 2:16 PM by Dad
I bought a bmw 330 xi (awd) (auto) about a month ago and I noticed it started to pull after a few weeks, I planned to get it looked at or aligned but before I could get around to it I blew out my front right tire, when I took it off I realized it was the wrong Damon size!I know this had to have done damage but how much? Is the car basically ruined or can i save my transmision?
Posted @ Friday, March 07, 2014 3:31 AM by geno_spamoni11
My friend didn't know much about all wheel drive and let the shop put two different sizes on the front wheels of his Nissan rogue. Then ask these weird noises comes in the next day. Is there any way to find out what is broken and about how much it is to get it fixed?
Posted @ Sunday, March 23, 2014 6:01 AM by Yo
That's a great blog with a proper understanding of how and why is it so important to replace the car tires properly. We often take it as a simple thing and let the car service provider play with the kind of tire they want to install which ultimately cost a lot. Better we should get the concept clear before doing so.
Posted @ Tuesday, May 27, 2014 2:54 AM by Hawkins
Definitely we should not take risk when it comes to car tires.Great information...
Posted @ Wednesday, May 28, 2014 5:28 AM by John
Tires play an important role while driving a car. A special care should be taken of it, especially in summers. While changing the car wheels, you need to keep certain things in mind, as many mechanics do not check and replace it which creates further problem in it. Always use the tire which is appropriate fit to it, and should be relevant to it. Its better to use the tire of the car company as it fits the best according to the model. porsche repair calabasas
Posted @ Monday, June 02, 2014 2:46 AM by Jane Larsen
Thanks for the info and stepping up to admit a mistake. As an automotive professional myself, I know the importance of admitting when I'm wrong and taking care of the customer's problem.
Posted @ Saturday, June 21, 2014 7:18 PM by John
This post is informative and here I have learnt some new things that I was not aware of.Tyre care not only increase the life of tyres but also increase safety while driving plus save lot of money on fuel. 
Posted @ Monday, July 14, 2014 2:36 AM by car tyres glen waverley
Very useful article for me, there is more information I have is very important. Thank you I'm glad you could get out of it to share..
Posted @ Wednesday, August 06, 2014 2:26 PM by Forklift Training Melbourne
Thanks for the info. I have a 96 AWD Subaru that I HAVE OWNED since 98. I have replaced two sets of tires, guess I was luck because they wore out evenly and I keep them rotated. I also own a 2007 AWD GMC Denali that I have never had problems since new until three months ago. The back left rear was wearing off on the inside of the tire. We were leaving on a trip so I ran buy and got the tire rotated. I was gone tree weeks and 2500 miles. When we returned I got busy and did not get it checked until this week. The tire that was on the left front (moved from the left rear before trip) has really worn down. The left rear was showing inside wear and a dip wear also. So I took the GMC to the tire store and ask for a new tire on right front and fix the alignment. When I returned to pick up the GMC, I was told about AWD and I should replace all tires. Next they showed me a print out of the wheels and said that the left side checked out fine, but the right side front was out -9. The front end tech was so puzzled he talked to the salesman who talked to me about what was going on. I told him the tires on the left side had only been moved front to back and back to front. The man set up the front end machine again and the same thing happened, the left side was ok and the right front was -9. This was the first time I had ever heard about the AWD and tires, so I googled the question and ended up here. What does anyone think about the GMC problem. 
Posted @ Wednesday, August 20, 2014 5:27 PM by Ron Mays
Nice info, i like this site. i will visit this site again in the next time. Thank's !
Posted @ Monday, August 25, 2014 8:48 PM by Obat Gangguan Sirkulasi Darah
Nice info, i like this site. i will visit this site again in the next time. Thank's !
Posted @ Tuesday, August 26, 2014 1:24 AM by Obat Penghancur Batu Ginjal
Great helpful post on car wheels & tyres.Really helpful....
Posted @ Tuesday, September 16, 2014 6:05 AM by Stephen
Thank you very much for sharing this useful information. I was doing a project and for that I was looking for related event management information.
Posted @ Tuesday, September 23, 2014 6:28 AM by SaleenaGomez
My shop specializes in Volvo, we had a 2001 V70XC in that had 2 tires a 3/32" and 2tires at 6/32" we replaced the front two with the same size and brand, Goodyears, new were Integrity, the old were Assurance. Customer brought car back afte 3 days with a leaking rear differential. We saw fresh damage to the rear frame support just below where the leak was ocurring. We replaced the differential with a good used unit. after 200 miles the new differential appeared to be leaking. we cleaned up all the fluid and could not duplicate. I checked with Goodyear and all the tire specs diameter, heighth, etc. were the same. The diameter measurement is about 1/2" off.  
Is this too much? We can't seem to get the rear end to leak again.
Posted @ Monday, October 20, 2014 7:41 PM by Brad
I don't think the author is accurate about there being a lot of services around N.E that will shave down your tire to match...Tire Rack is the only one who might, and that's if you buy tires from them.
Posted @ Tuesday, December 02, 2014 2:52 PM by john
I'm borrowing a mates Subaru impreza hatch 2007 model, was told last night by a friend who was following me in another car that when I drove around corners there was sparks coming out from my two front tyres. Apron inspection they seem to be worn down to the metal on the insides, I'm wondering just how safe it would be to continue driving on? I live rural and it's an hour drive to the shop to get more (most the way is 110km) how much risk am I with driving her? I know this question seems silly but been Xmas eve and having everyone around for xmas lunch tomorrow and still needing to get supply's I live alone and is screwed if I can't drive anywhere as much as I would love to have new tyres on striaght away sometimes it's not that easy (finding somewhere that's got them in stock as well as having the time to put them on for me today)
Posted @ Tuesday, December 23, 2014 3:56 PM by Gypsy
Well here I am on a short vacation one last night 400 miles from home reading this website now fearful we may not make it home because I bought 2 new slightly larger tires for our 2008 AWD Nissan Rogue the day before our little trip. I purposely opted for 2 new tires on the front and moved the older 3/32" front tires to the back as always done for our typical FWD vehicles as the tires hardly wear on the rear. Theoretically the new P225/65R17 tires would be 0.9" larger diameter (3.25% calculated for speedometer differences) than the original P225/60R17's but more like 1.3" due to the new thicker tread. The concern started when the AWD light started blinking shortly after leaving home and the freeway gas mileage was lower and now the consequences of some disturbing low speed occasional clunks from the rear end have me searching the internet finding this article & blog to validate my concerns of arriving home safe late tomorrow evening. Even though I called the tire shop yesterday (he's never heard of this AWD issue) and he's offered to replace the tires with the original size, I fear long term damage, assuming we make it home, is already done. Interesting to note that going up mountain roads today that the front end vibrated in the sharper turns as if the wheel RPM's were locked not allowing different spinning speeds. Upon returning downhill, the vibration did not seem to occur and the AWD flashing light did not illuminate for the first time on this 3 day trip.  
I CAN'T BELIEVE THIS AWD ISSUE IS NOT COMMON KNOWLEDGE FOR BOTH OWNERS AND TIRE SHOP PERSONNEL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I now will likely buy 2 additional matching tires so all 4 match in size, age, brand, tread pattern, etc... and thrown away the extra rear tire I kept as a just-in-case spare!! Wish our family luck...
Posted @ Sunday, January 04, 2015 4:37 AM by Dennis
I have a 2009 Subaru Legacy GT and the dealer sold me the car with crappy rear tires. I was unaware of this at the time, but then I noticed a slow leak in one of them. I thought I could get it patched so I took it to Mr. Tire and they said that the side walls of the two rear tires were shredded. They offered me two similar rear tires. I told them that I would sleep on it. Then I took it to Tire World and they said that since it is an AWD car that I would have to replace all four wheels. I was aware of this when I bought the car, but is there any way I can buy the same tires and just shave down the tread in order to save some money? If so, where can I get that done? I'm still in highschool and I have a part time job at best so I'm not exactly made of money.
Posted @ Saturday, January 24, 2015 1:50 PM by Connor Freeman
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