Tire concerns: Mixing old and new tires on 4WD vehicle

Tire concerns: Mixing old and new tires on 4WD vehicle

by Arthur F Diefenbach
(Lindley, NY USA)

I drive a Ford Explorer, XLS, 2002, 4WD. I have been reading about the various gearing combinations, but have found it hard to follow and apply.

My plan, if workable, is to use equal sized tires (Michelin Cross Terrain P235/70R16) all around. However, due to budget limitations, can I use new Michelins on the front and the same size Timberline with 6/32" remaining on the rear, for one month (400 miles) of two wheel highway driving?

Thereafter, I can afford two more new Michelins for the rear.

I use the 4WD feature off road during the frozen season or the dry season (which I hope comes in one month) . The Explorer tows a utility trailer to help with the gathering of firewood.

Editorial Comment:

As long as you are using your vehicle only in 2WD mode, you shouldn't experience any difficulties.

The problem with mixing new and used tires even of the same size is due to the fact that new tires have a larger overall diameter because there is extra tread. If you ever start to use the 4WD, this is where the problems could arise.

Most vehicles are built to allow a certain degree of variation because there can be some difference in the wear rate of front and rear wheels, but if the difference exceeds about 1/2 inch you will be running the risk of going beyond those limits.

If you follow your plan and avoid using 4WD, just remember that the new tires you buy now will be wearing down, too, as you use them although in just one month the difference will not be significant.

Even so, if you can, you might consider financing the new tires and buying them all together. Since you still have 6/32nds you could continue to use those you now have for the extra month, because you still have a reasonable amount of tread on the old tires and that also won't change a lot over one month.


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