Replacing One Tire on an AWD Vehicle

I often hear from customers who have damaged one tire on their AWD vehicle that they would like to buy one tire to replace the damaged tire.

Simply installing one new tire runs the risk of drivability problems or expensive drive line damage. I recommend they consider a set of four depending on availability and the tread depth of the three remaining tires. But replacing the other three partially worn tires along with the damaged tire does increase the cost. Another option to consider is shaving the new tire to the current tread depth of the tires that remain on the vehicle.  

By matching the tread depth of the replacement tire to the tread depth of the partially worn tires that will remain on the vehicle via the removal of tread rubber from the new tire using a specialized machine that operates as a tire lathe may seem counterintuitive, the value of the mileage sacrificed is considerably less than the cost of rebuilding worn drive line components.

Tire shaving will range from $25 to $35 per tire and is significantly less than the cost of unnecessarily replacing the remaining two or three good tires that still have lots of mileage remaining. But if the tread depth on the remaining tires is 5/32nds or less, shaving may not be the best choice.

Some manufacturers have set parameters for matching the tires used on their four-wheel drive and all-wheel drive vehicles.

  • Audi: As stated in their owner's manual, "rolling radius of all 4 tires must remain the same" or within 4/32-inch of each other in remaining depth
  • Porsche Cayenne: Within 30% of the other tire on the same axle
  • Subaru: Within 1/4-inch of tire circumference or about 2/32-inch of each other
Refer to your owner's manual for additional recommendations from other Original Equipment vehicle manufacturers.


Friday, November 9, 2012 by David

So I understand all of the above information. I need to replace one tire on my subaru AWD. My question is: where can I actually select the same tread/tire as my other three and have it shaved and delivered? Is there a specific link on this site that can direct me there?
Thursday, November 15, 2012 by Todd

Hello David For getting a tire shaved you must call in your order I would be happy to assist you @1-800-428-8355 ext 4673

Tuesday, October 13, 2015 by Brian Berman


I have to replace a Michelin Primacy MXV4 on my Subaru Outback. I got the set about 1.5 years ago so the other three tires are still in good shape. I don't put a lot of mileage on my car. Should I just reorder the same tire and have it measured and then shaved down? I've also been told that that tire has been discontinued. Would it be better to get the better model that replaced the model I have?

Thursday, November 19, 2015 by Jason

The spec for Subaru is 1/4" overall diameter difference. so that's 1/8" tread depth, or 4/32's.

Leave a comment