Why change tyres in pairs?

Why is it best to change tyres in pairs?

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Tyres have a huge influence on how your car steers, accelerates, brakes and feels when you drive. As the only contact point between your car and the road, it is vital that you choose your tyres carefully in order to keep you and your passengers safe.

When it comes to changing old or worn out tyres, it may seem like a cheap option to just change the tyre that most urgently needs replacing, but this is a potentially dangerous choice.

Having different types or ages of tyres on the same axle of your car means it will have an unequal level of rolling resistance and grip, which will affect how it steers, grips and stops.

For example, if you put a new tyre on your front left wheel, but keep an older tyre with a different tread pattern on your front right wheel, this will cause an imbalance of grip and rolling resistance.

Why is it bad to have an imbalance of grip or rolling resistance?

Having unequal rolling resistance on either side of your car could cause your steering to pull to one side when driving, which is tiring and uses more fuel. It may also be misdiagnosed as being a steering alignment problem - causing unnecessary trips to the garage and cost to try and fix it.

An imbalance of grip when cornering or braking is potentially dangerous. In an emergency braking situation, it may mean your car doesn't stop in a straight line when you apply the brakes, putting you and your passengers in greater danger - for example, if you need to stay in your lane on the motorway.

This is why it is really important to change your front and rear tyres in pairs.

How to check whether you have the same tyres on each axle

To check your tyres on either axle are the same, inspect the make, model and size of the tyre which is written on the sidewall, and make sure you have the same tyre on the other side of your car. To find more information on this, click here.

What type of tyre should I choose?

With tyres it is often sensible to buy the best tyres you can afford. Paying for premium tyres is often a good investment since they offer greater levels of performance than a budget tyre, depending on what their intended purpose is i.e. a premium summer tyre will offer greater levels of grip in hot conditions than a budget summer tyre. Tyre manufacturer Dunlop offer a range of excellent premium tyres which you can see here.

What about winter tyres?

Winter tyres have different tread patterns to summer tyres in order to help them grip in the snow and ice, so you should never fit a winter tyre and a summer tyre on the same axle. Winter tyres should be bought as a set of four tyres too, as just fitting two winter tyres to one axle will cause an imbalance of grip between the front and the rear of the car.

4x4/SUV tyres

In the case of four wheel drive cars, you may have to change either both tyres on an axle, or even all four tyres at the same time, to avoid damaging the four wheel drive system (consult your car manufactures handbook for recommendations).

Additional Cost?

Having to replace an additional tyre that may appear to have 'life left in it' may seem costly, however, if you consider the potential danger of a tyre failing, or the inconvenience of having to make an additional trip to the tyre fitter, compared with the cost of a new tyre, it's a small price to pay.