Reader Question: Two at Once?

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

Phillip writes: I managed to curb scrub the right rear tire of my 2013 Honda Accord, putting a small tear into the sidewall. The dealer insists the tire must be replaced and not only that, its opposite number as well. This seems like “revenue enhancement” to me.

My reply:  Absolutely not – at least, in the case of the right rear tire with the sidewall tear. That tire must be replaced.  I am the farthest thing you’ll find from a sssssssaaaaaaaafety fetishist but this is a legitimate safety issue. Driving on a damaged tire that could explosively decompress at high speed is a kind of Russian Roulette and not worth the “savings” of – what – about  $150 for a replacement tire? How much would it cost you if you wreck the car on account of that damaged tire?

Then other tire should probably also be replaced. Unless both tires were nearly new and had very little wear on them. In that case, it’d be okay to replace just the damaged tire with one of the same type. But otherwise, the other tire should become your spare tire. Toss it in the trunk – as a replacement for the crappy donut spare your car from the factory with.

But don’t continue driving on it with a brand-new tire on the opposite axle. Why?

Tread wear/depth differences from side-to-side can result in weird handling and may also result in faster wear of your other tires.

As a general rule, tires (on the same axle – i.e., front or rear) should be replaced in pairs.

. . .

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14 COMMENTS

  1. I recall the days when I had 4 different brands of tires on the pickup when I was a kid. Don’t think I’d do that now. I had this idiot ruin a new tire on the Elco once. They were high dollar tires so I had to replace both rears. I was pissed.

    • I had a buddy with a early seventies Ford half ton 2wd. Back then odd used 15″ tires were common and cheap/free, so he would get whatever he could find and run them however long they might go. If they held air and no threads showing, they were good to go. He had extra wheels and carried several spares. Our friends down the valley with the store and cabins had an old manual tire changer and compressor that they would let us use for free. In the summer you always had the tourists watching and sometimes we’d even fix a flat for a tourist and tell them to go into the store and pay for it.

      I did a little better than that because I ran 6 ply 700-15 (or 6.50-16) on my pickups. Still I gave up and ran highway on the front and mud/snow on the back even on the 4wd. I bought used school bus tires for my Truck and changed those old “widow makers” myself without ever any problem.

      • In my twenties I’d get home on a week-end and fix truck flats. Two years ago, working for a cheap ass company, I found myself doing that again. I screwed the pooch after than as much as I could and avoided it.

        A couple months ago I had a blowout on a belly dump and went to the barn and the young guy who operated the blade helped me change tires. Goddammit, someday I’m going to repeat what I said to my boss about 5 years ago “I’m a truck drive, an operator, not a tire-changer” to which I dropped that big breaker and walked away. Fuck this, said the mechanic and did the same “I’m a mechanic, not a tire man”. So we left it all with the non-skilled and drove 30 miles and worked on a truck. I don’t mind working on a truck but breaking down and replacing 24.5’s are just too much. It’s bad enough to have to throw one on the trailer as a spare.

      • I was self employed so the “boss” always made me fix my own tires 🙂

        I had to fix everything, my own stuff and the guy who worked for me. When I wasn’t fixing it, I was building stuff mostly from scratch/junk. I did most of the falling as well, which was actually the fun part compared to driving truck and fixing things. My buddy skidded with his old tractor where the ground allowed it and helped me run the “yarder” based on an old Ma Bell winch truck. That was a two person job and then we found that we usually had to sort the pile with the tractor before we could load out of it. So we had to skid it again out of the pile and sort into smaller piles along the road. We were punching through new right of ways so we were nearly always working at a dead end on the side of a mountain.

        My usual haul was only about 75 miles round trip but it was over the divide so it took most of the day by the time I unloaded and got paid and gassed up again. Most of it was crawling 2nd gear up and then 2nd gear back down, through absolutely breathtaking scenery. Just about the same empty as the road was too rough to go any faster anyway. Now it is all paved 🙁

    • Heck, 8, I didn’t buy my first set of 4 matching tires till I was around 50 !!

      I wouldn’t replace 2 tires if one was damaged, unless I had one of these fancy new-fangled AWD cars (which I’d never have), as long as something reasonably similar to the remaining tire is available, and the remaining tire isn’t half shot.

      AWD, traction-control, etc. are making it so that any time someone runs over a freaking pebble, you have to replace all four tires. Ridiculous!

      • Four matching tires? Heck, now that’s some high living!

        Nunz, I used to specialize in running those Eye-talian radials you my have heard about – Baldinis. 🙂

        • Trouble with those Baldinis though, Jason, is that when dago flat, dago wop! wop! Wop! Wop!

          (Got that from someone here on this site- forget who- but I love it!)

          Hey, high-living indeed! Set of 4 Hankook Dyna Pros for my truck cost $750 (Just as good if not better than BFG All-Terrain T/A’s, but 30% cheaper) and that was a few years ago!

          • Groan! 😉 That is a great one, Nunz, gotta remember it!

            Yeah, tires have gotten pretty expensive except for some cheapo Chinese-made ones that have brand names like Chop Suey Louie or No Tickee No Washee that nobody ever heard of.

          • Nunz, If you have LSD on the rear you don’t have much choice….if you want to keep it working. I drove a company pickup with Hankook tires and they were loud as hell and not smooth at all. I’ll stick with BF Goodrich(Michelins).

    • >The opposite side undamaged tire is not going to be any use as a spare unless you buy an extra full size wheel.

      True, but there are cheap options for that. Back in the day, I put a full-service spare in a Chevette when I had an almost-new tire left over after having all four replaced. I bought a wheel at a pick-a-part yard (pulled off another Chevette), cleaned it up, and had the extra tire mounted on it. That junkyard wheel cost me maybe $20 or so.

      The other question is whether there’ll be space in the spare-tire well for a full-service spare. With lots of newer cars, the spare-tire well (if it’s still present at all) might only be big enough for the toy spare and some tools.

      • Yeah, I bought a set of four 15″ steel wheels for our car for $25 each. Later I had to pay $35 for a matching spare wheel and I bought a cheap new tire to go on it. I thought I was going to sell the four factory wheels but so far no luck.

        And it does NOT fit in the donut spare well so we just carry it in the back, but at least now we have two spares (well, one and a half really). Sometimes I unload the big one if we’re just going to town and need to get a lot of stuff, but on long trips it always goes with us. If you turn the wheel with the valve stem down, then there is a fairly good sized “dish” to pile little things into.

        • Anon, I saw a really rare pickup yesterday. It was a new Z 71 2500 crew cab with an 8′ bed. No doubt it was ordered.

          • The county has at least one pretty new 2500 HD regular cab long bed. The guy drives it out here and leaves it parked at the fire hall while he’s out pushing all the gravel off into the ditches with the grader, so I got to look it over. It’s an automatic of course, but it actually has a manual floor lever for the transfer case. I dunno about windows and door locks because I didn’t go so far as to open the door. I expect the keys were in it so I guess I could have taken it for a short test drive 🙂

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