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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

Comments

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 ="http://germanimportservices.com">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 wagon.....it 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
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