Drivers should avoid mixing tires with different tread patterns, internal constructions or sizes and use identical tires on all of their vehicle's wheel positions in order to maintain the best control and stability. Additionally, drivers should never mix winter tires with all-season/summer tires or mix run-flat tires with non-run-flat tires.
Unfortunately wearing out all tires at the same time isn't always possible. Sometimes vehicle design, the use of differently sized tires on front and rear axles, insufficient maintenance and/or driving conditions conspire to prevent it from happening.
The first recommendation is to always keep the same level of grip all the way around the car. To do this simply choose the exact same tire as the others on your vehicle.
Or, choose equivalent tires from the same tire performance category that share the same speed rating, handling and traction characteristics of the original tires. While this isn't as desirable as selecting the exact tire currently on the vehicle, it can become necessary when the original tires are no longer available.
As technology advances, modern winter tires improve and provide ice and snow traction that is better than before. The research and development used to create the tread designs and rubber compounds has evolved beyond what you may have experienced previously.
All of the tire companies we represent and seven out of ten vehicle manufacturers recommend four winter tires be used on rear-wheel, front-wheel or four-wheel drive vehicles. Opposite ends of the vehicle won't react and perform the same as the other in the dry, wet, slush and snow conditions you'll encounter before the end of winter without matching tires. In emergency maneuvers, you'll find that your vehicle will probably understeer in one condition and oversteer in another. It is best to keep your vehicle's handling as consistent as possible by "matching" all four tires.
Think of it this way, mismatching your tires is like walking with a golf shoe on one foot and a tennis shoe on the other. Always maintain the same level of grip all the way around the car to ensure optimum acceleration, braking, handling and control through winter's challenges.
The performance gains are provided by either designing the tread pattern to give the tire a bigger bite (tread lugs farther apart) or making the tread compound soft and more pliable with microscopic bite particles usually of fiberglass to give the tread compound more bite on the ice and hard packed snow. For newer performance vehicles run-flat winter tires are available as well.
Some of the most popular winter tires are the Bridgestone Blizzak WS70, Bridgestone Blizzak DM-V1, Bridgestone Blizzak LM-50 RFT (shown below, left to right).
I would have no problem putting this tire on my car; it is that good!
Compared to competitor's tires, this tire is consistently more attractive in the pricing category, too.
We drove on the Continental ExtremeWinterContact, Dunlop Graspic DS-3, Michelin X-Ice Xi2 and the Bridgestone Blizzak WS70. As in years past the Bridgestone Blizzak WS70 provided the most control for acceleration and braking and was head and shoulders above the others in the cornering demonstration.
These are not your father's snow tires! All the results will be online soon! Check this page frequently.
Tread depths can vary from one tire size to another. As your tire wears, it loses its ability to process the water on the road. Even though a tire is considered to be worn out at 2/32“ remaining tread, it loses its efficiency for traction as it wears. If you live in an area where frequent rain is an issue, it is recommended that you change your tires at 4/32” remaining tread so that you do not experience a drop in wet weather performance.
Have you heard the saying, “A chain is only as strong as its weakest link?” A similar thing can be said about tires since a tire is no better than the most worn spot on its tread. When looking at a tire’s tread, you may find irregularities have occurred as it has worn. The most worn spot is its weak link!
Place a penny into several tread grooves across the tire. If part of Lincoln's head is always covered by the tread, you have more than 2/32" of tread depth remaining.
Place a quarter into several tread grooves across the tire. If part of Washington's head is always covered by the tread, you have more than 4/32" of tread depth remaining.
When it came time to replace her tires, good old dad (me) chose to send her Goodyear Eagle GT tires. Living in Indianapolis, she is at the southern edge of the snow belt. Rather than expect her to do a winter tire change over in the spring and fall she was a good candidate for all-season tires.
The tires being replaced were the Pirelli P6 Four Seasons tires. While not giving the performance of dedicated winter tires like the Bridgestone Blizzak WS60 or the Michelin X-Ice Xi2, this tire does give her the traction and performance for year-round driving. Two weeks after the Goodyears were installed she called to tell me replacing the tires was like buying her a new car. Noise levels were much improved as well.
I had an incident where I underestimated the amount of room i needed for a turn into a subdivision and turned at much too high of speed. The Generals stuck like glue in the loose gravel of the intersection! The ride quality and noise comfort are at a level that gives me confidence in recommending this tire for luxury SUVs and CUVs. Today the tires have 6,000 miles on them.
The General Grabber HTS is a symmetrical tire allowing the tires to be cross switched as well as rotated front to back.
Although this is not a substiute for dedicated winter tires like the Bridgestone Blizzak, Continental 4x4 Winter Contact or the Michelin Lattitude X-Ice, in my opinion it provides adequate levels of winter traction when needed.
I have told countless Tire Rack customers about my experience and the best compliment I can give the tires is to say I would buy them again.
Directional (Unidirectional) Tread Patterns
A directional (also called a unidirectional) tread pattern is designed to roll in only one direction and incorporates lateral grooves on both sides of the tire’s centerline. These point in the same direction resuin v-shaped tread blocks. These grooves enhance hydroplaning resistance at high speeds by pumping water more efficiently through the tread pattern. Directional tires are to be used on one side of the vehicle unless they are dismounted and remounted on their wheels. They are intended to be rotated from the front axle to the rear axle. If different tire sizes are used on the front vs. rear axle, they become location-specific and prohibit tire rotation unless remounted. Read more here.
Some examples of the mentioned tire brands and the directional tread patterns are shown below.
The answer is "no," you did not get the wrong tires! The critical part of the tires in question is the outboard side being mounted out. Typically the outboard is going to have bigger tread blocks to stand up to the stresses of cornering better than the smaller tread blocks on the inside of the tread. Between the shoulder tread blocks some tread patterns seem to be running backwards, the significance of this appearance is overshadowed by the necessity to mount the outboard shoulder on the outside of the wheel.
So if you have the appearance of two of the tires running backward when looking at the tread but have the outside sidewall mounted out the tire is mounted correctly.
Below are examples of asymmetrical tread patterns:
Bridgestone Potenza RE-11
Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric
Continental ExtremeContact DWS
Until next time, Bart
Greetings, in order to add a little credibility to my ramblings let me begin by saying I was a working manager in a retail tire store for 28 years. My responsibilites included everything form hiring and firing to overseeing accounting and training. I have seen and worked on tire and wheel applications from bicycles and wheelbarrows to Buicks, Porshes and pick up trucks.
My personality requires me to gather as much information as I can to make the best decision possible for the situation. Whether you have questions about all weather tires Bridgestone Blizzaks or Bilstein shocks if I do not have the answer have the resources to locate the answers.