Reader Question: Does Replacing One Tire Mean Having to Replace the Other?

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

Fran asks: So I got a flat tire the other day, apparently not repairable (according to the dealer). I was told that I would need a new tire as well as another new tire because – according to them – it would be unsafe to replace the damaged tire and not the tire opposite, i.e., both rear tires. I feel I am being set up for a rip-off but wanted to ask your opinion about this.

My reply: It might not be a rip-off. If the undamaged tire opposite the one that went flat and which will be replaced with a new tire is very worn. As in more than half its original tread gone. In that case, it is possible that some glitch with wheel speed sensors or similar could occur due to the one tire (tire/wheel combo) being of slightly less diameter. Some modern, electronicized cars are very touchy about such things, which would not have been an issue in the past.

Even if not, uneven wear/handling issues could result. But – again – I’d only worry about this if the other tire is very worn.

If you do end up replacing the still-good but worn tire, consider keeping it as a real spare – as opposed to the “space saver” spare your car came with.

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  1. This is especially true of full time all wheel drive. Diameter variations can cause the computer to freak out (sorry to be so technical) and not function properly.


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