Top tier tires aren't cheap, but they ensure that your car stays stuck to the road in even the most challenging situations. The high price of a good set of tires can make it all the more upsetting when one of your tires wears out or fails sooner than the others. While tires typically wear evenly, you may find yourself faced with one bad tire following a puncture or an issue with your car's suspension.
Unfortunately, replacing only a single tire can severely impact your car's handling. Not only will you lose the advantages offered by your high-quality tires, but your car's handling characteristics may become dangerously unpredictable. You may even cause damage to your vehicle's components. Keep reading to learn what you should (and shouldn't) do when you find yourself in need of a single tire replacement.
The Worst Plan: Mismatched Tire Types
Perhaps the worst thing you can do when dealing with a single, worn-out tire is to use a replacement of a drastically different type. If you currently have summer tires on your vehicle, then replacing your faulty tire with an all-season or (even worse!) winter tire can drastically impact your car's handling and safety. Never mismatch tires in this way, and avoid mixing manufacturers whenever possible.
The Stop Gap Solution: Choose a Close Match
If you cannot afford to replace more than one tire, then you should replace your old tire with an identical version. Most tire dealers can shave down a new tire's tread to match the wear on your other tires. Shaving is wasteful, but it can help to keep your car's handling characteristics intact. Modifying a tire in this way also ensures that you don't find yourself continually mismatching individual tires.
The Compromise: Replace One Axle
When you don't want to replace all of your tires at once, then replacing your tires in pairs is the next best option. The typical advice for pair replacement is to put the new tires on the rear of the vehicle, regardless of where the old, failed might have been located. Keeping your new rubber on the rear axle generally provides the most significant benefit when driving on wet, slippery roads.
The Best Option: Replace All Four Tires
You'll achieve the best handling and wear characteristics if you can replace all of your tires together. Choosing this option can be cost-effective if your other tires have significant wear on them already. Even if they have some life left, you'll be better off in the long run by replacing them in a set. You should only replace tires in pairs or individually if your budget will not allow for a complete replacement.
Visit a tire dealer to get the replacement tires you need.