In a FWD car, do newer tires go to front or rear?

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Mar 14, 2004
I know that in a RWD car, if you only get 2 new tires, they go to the rear to prevent it from fishtailing. But FWD cars often have heavy understeer and aren't as likely to fishtail. On the other hand, if you do fishtail, it's much harder to control in a FWD car so you're basically screwed. So when you only get 2 new tires in a FWD car, do they go to the front or rear?
There is a lot about this in a recent post here titled "Why rotate and balance tires?". There is no single absolute answer for all seasons and reasons.
I know for an Ohio winter I'd want them on the front for sure. But since you are in LA, I doubt it would make that big of a difference.
If your rear tires have good tread I don't think it would probably make much difference. I have always put the new ones in front on FWD cars. It makes sense to me because of the heavier load in front.
Okay, newer tires in rear. Here's my dilemma. I've never rotated the tires on my FWD Nissan Altima. It's got about 15K miles, sporting Bridgestone Turanza EL42s. I'm estimating that the front tires have ~50% tread left, rears around 75%. It's a significant and noticeable difference. I know I shoudl've rotated them earlier, but I didn't. Is it a good idea to rotate them now? It hardly rains here in SoCal, maybe 20 days out of the whole year. I drive this car pretty conservatively.
FWD's are much different than RWD cars. FWD cars will always be much harder on the front tires than the rears as it is primary for turning, braking, and accelerating. The rears have a fraction of the braking force than the front (to keep from rear lock up) and have less force exerted on them in turns. Other than that, the rears just follow the front. With that in mind, put the newer (more sidewall thread) in the front if you are looking to wear out your tires evenly. If you want to run the old ones out quick then leave them in the front. Just my input from a guy that owns a FWD, RWD and an AWD.
Thanks for the input. But what I'm woried about is losing grip of the front tires in wet conditions.
ive asked the tire manufactuer reps at my work this question and every one of them says to put the new on the rear no exceptions, no matter the driving conditions or the vehicle. this is from goodyear, michelin, bridgestone.
Normally if you would put the better tires in the front so they will wear normally. Some tire places like discount tire put the new ones on the back, but you will forever be buying two tires at a time if you do this. Having good tires on the front and bad ones on the back CAN get you into an oversteer situation(I've been there), however it is EASIER to recover in a FWD car, just countersteer and give it some gas. The problem is that most people don't know any better and just stand on the brakes, which will not help. It's still better then putting the bald tires on the front and not being able to stop, accelerate or turn. Bottom line, put them on the front.
front wheel drives and rear wheels drives behave the same when decelerating or braking. its just as easy to fishtail a front wheel drive while braking hard as it is to fishtail a rear wheel drive. the only time a front wheel drive exibits understeering is during acceleration.
Okay, quick question: Is it better to have 75% tread on front and 50% on rear, or 50% on both front and rear? Seeing as how bad weather is hardly an issue here, I'm just trying to figure out whether I should rotate my tires or not. I'd prefer to get 4 new tires instead of just 2 for economic reasons.
A couple of thoughts: For hydroplaning and snow, the traction vs tread depth thing is non-linear. ie The traction gets worse faster as you approach wear out. This means that there isn't as much difference between 75% TDR (Tread Depth Remaining) and 50% as there is between 50% and 25% (or even worse for 25% and 0%!) So I think a 75% / 50% would be worse than a 50% / 50%, provided we are talking about a situation where the problem is unavoidable (a sudden downpour, for example.) But these traction limited situations are rare enough that the smart thing would be to put he less worn tire are the front of a FWD and when they get to the same state of wear as the rears, start the regular rotation schedule. (Of course it would be even better if the tire were rotated regularly so this situation were never encountered.) T-Keith said: "....however it is EASIER to recover in a FWD car..." I have to disagree. I think the technique posted would be good for situations where the vehicle motion is straight ahead, but in a curve - which is where the traction limited problem becomes acute - you'd have to be a skilled driver to make this work. The average joe wouldn't be able to do this and he'd make the situation worse. Compared to a RWD where just backing off the throttle causes the rear tires to "catch", I don't think you can say it is easier on a FWD. Just to keep this in perspective: The situation where the "new vs worn" thing becomes important is pretty rare. Prudent people would be driving slower just because of the condition of the road and would not likely have the problem we are discussing. Where this really becomes a MAJOR issue is for a Tire Dealer where he has to make a decision about what to do with a customer who has a new vs 25% TDR situation. The dealer has a HUGE liability issue to deal with.
If you're really worried about loosing traction you should have two new tires and two bald ones. FWD OR RWD. If it's a situation where two tires are only somwhat better, put them on the front or you will not get maximum life out of them. The tires on the rear thing is a liability thing taken to extremes. -T
CapriRacer, Having both FWD and RWD, I have to agree with T-Kieth on this one. Given limited traction, its easier to control a FWD than a RWD in an oversteer situation. Here is a simple question: What would you rather be driving in the snow? FWD or RWD? FWDs are much easier to control (my answer).
If two tires have significantly more tread than the other two, the better tires should definitely be on the back. I grew up with RWD and I prefer it in all conditions. I wouldn't say it's better in winter, but if you have decent weight distribution (not a 2WD empty bed pick-up), it's a lot more enjoyable! FWD is more forgiving in most situations, but if snap-oversteer occurs because the back tires lose it when the front tires gripped, it's about as far from forgiving as it gets. Anyone who has played with the e-brake on a slippery day knows that the back end can whip around pretty quickly. In my opinion, it's far less forgiving than the throttle-induced oversteer that often occurs with a RWD, but it can be avoided by keeping decent tires on the back.
>Here's my dilemma. I've never rotated the tires on my FWD Nissan Altima. It's got about 15K miles, sporting Bridgestone Turanza EL42s. I'm estimating that the front tires have ~50% tread left, rears around 75%. It's a significant and noticeable difference. So swap them front to back, and ask us again in another 15k.
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