Reader Question: Tire Replacement and Car Shopping?

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!

Allan asks: I am going to buy a car or SUV next year. Should I have to replace all four tires (Toyota 4 Runner Limited) because of its full-time AWD system if one tire blows out?  What is your take on Lexus IS300 RWD and Acura ILX in terms of maintenance and repair costs as well as reliability issues if I plan to own either of the sedans for 10 years? Your blog is an eye-opener for me when I found it last summer.  Thanks for your advice in advance.

My reply: Generally, you should replace tires in pairs – if the other tire (the one not damaged) has worn enough that there is a significant difference in tread depth between it and the new/replacement tire. If there is, the worn tire will be of slightly different diameter overall and that plus the difference in tread depth itself could result in noticeable handling/braking differences, especially in the rain.

If all four tires are worn pretty heavily and approximately to the same extent, its generally smart to just replace all four at once rather than just two.

And then keep up with the recommended rotation schedule, so they all wear as evenly as possible!

On the IS300 vs. the ILX:

In general, simpler is better when it comes to reliability/repair costs because there is less that can go wrong. And RWD is simpler than FWD (and AWD). So, the Lexus pulls ahead a little. However, the Acura is a Honda and Hondas are – generally – excellent and durable/reliable cars. They have had some issues with their Super Handling AWD (SH-AWD) system and these can be expensive to repair if something goes wrong – but overall, either would be a good choice in my book.

I would recommend basing your final decision on which car you like better – be sure to take each for an extended test drive!- and which car you can buy for the best price.

Keep us posted!

. . .

Got a question about cars – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!

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  1. Some places (Tire-Rama for instance) have a deal where you can pay a little extra when you buy a set of four new tires, and if one is damaged beyond repair they give you Four New Tires.

    Then you just pay the extra fee again and they will warranty those four new ones also. It was $16 per tire ($64) a couple years ago.


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