one newish tire and three worn-out ones: what to do?
September 27, 2017 3:48 PM   Subscribe

Not quite sure how I ended up in this situation (bought my car used at a very crazy time in my life and may have missed a few things) but I have a 2013 Nissan Cube that I love but has mismatched tires. I took it in to a shop that I like and trust for an oil change and general checkup and got this note:

"Three of the tires are getting low on tread. Recommend replacing for winter. The car currently has a newer Toyo A20 195/60R15 87H rated tire on the right front. This model is not available through our supplier. We can replace the old tires with Toyo Extensa A/S 65000 mile treadwear (similar style and tread design) $84.17 per tire installed ."

I have always understood that it's best to get 4 matching tires, but perhaps that's propaganda from Big Rubber? The guy at the shop assured me that replacing just the three would be okay because they would be a close enough match to the good one. I like that the shop is not trying to up-sell me, and I'm all in favor of conserving resources and money if it makes sense, but I'm wondering if this is really a good idea. I would be most appreciative of any thoughts or advice that anybody might have. I'd also be in interested in recommendations of specific brands/models other than Toyo if you have any. I'd prefer to stay under about $100.00 per tire, especially if I'm going to end up getting four.
posted by littlecatfeet to Travel & Transportation (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Could you replace all four and keep the odd one as a spare?
posted by kinddieserzeit at 3:56 PM on September 27, 2017 [9 favorites]

My instincts are with you, and I have to suspect that the car had a flat tire at one time and maybe the Toyo was a spare (does the car have a spare?). But like you I'm rethinking my assumptions. I think if the existing Toyo is pretty new I might take the shop's advice and just replace the other 3. But if it's only sortof new (pretty good) I might just swap out all 4 - because I wouldn't want to get in a pattern where 1 is likely to wear out before the others. The tires they are recommending sound like a good deal unless you need a quality upgrade.
posted by dness2 at 3:58 PM on September 27, 2017

I have always understood that it's best to get 4 matching tires,
It is best, yes. It isn't essential but you ABSOLUTELY should have matching tyres on each axle (ie both fronts the same, both rears the same - fronts don't necessarily need to match the rears).

While different sizes on front and rear axles aren't a big deal in some ways, different tyre manufacturers have very different construction, spring rate (sidewall stiffness) and tread patterns so it is best practice to keep the same make of tyre all around the car. To reiterate, I would consider a car actively unsafe if it had different size and/or make of tyres across an axle.

I second the suggestion to replace all four and keep the good one as a spare. If you need to use it, then use it for the minimum time to get to a tyre shop and replace the faulty tyre and swap the odd one back out for the spare again. Essentially like you would with a space saver spare.
posted by Brockles at 4:03 PM on September 27, 2017 [2 favorites]

Assuming the newer tire still is in good shape, perhaps investigate the quality and cost of its brand. Another shop may carry or be able to order it.
posted by Kalatraz at 4:58 PM on September 27, 2017

I googled the singleton tire you have. Apparently, Tire Rack has a limited supply of them but they're quite a bit more expensive than the tires your shop is offering as a reasonable match. Unless you can find a better deal on the older model, you're probably best off to either do as your shop recommends or replace all four tires at once.
posted by DrGail at 5:22 PM on September 27, 2017

To me, it would depend if I were broke or not. If I could afford it, I'd just swap out all four because it's the best thing to do and then I wouldn't have anything to worry about. However if I were at a time in my life where the extra ~$100 was a big deal to me, I'd just do as the mechanic suggests and change out the other three for a close match. Then I'd make a mental note to be ready to change out both the front tires once the odd tire wore down, at which point both front and both back tires would match.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 7:45 PM on September 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'd go for three new tires (not all four unless you can easily afford it) on the grounds that the shop would have recommended replacing all four if they thought you really needed to do so. In other words, yes four matching tires is best, but if that one oddball tire is new enough/has good tread then there's no need to waste money.

Their recommendation for the replacement three sounds like a good deal, go for it!
posted by easily confused at 7:04 AM on September 28, 2017

on the grounds that the shop would have recommended replacing all four if they thought you really needed to do so.

This is not sound logic. It is not safe to have mismatching tyres across an axle, but not all shops know or respect this fact. Or, perhaps more charitably, they take the customer's presumed financial difficulties into account pre-emptively and advise on that basis, rather than advising the correct path and suggesting (with appropriate caveats) an alternative that they should make clear is sub-optimal, but also allow.
posted by Brockles at 7:50 AM on September 28, 2017

Keep an eye out for a buy-three-get-one-free tire sale at a discount tire place, and replace them all.
posted by jferg at 11:43 AM on September 28, 2017

most tire places do a 6 month same as cash finance, if you have a full size spare (most don't) get 5 new tires & rotate all 5 as you go....that will last the longest before you need new ones again.
posted by patnok at 2:00 PM on September 28, 2017

Thanks, all, for your thoughts and suggestions. I appreciate the validation you have provided for my vague feelings of uneasiness. Sure, I'd like to save money and petroleum products, but at the same time finances are not the paramount factor for me right now; I'd rather know that the tires are matching and symmetrical the way they're supposed to be. On top of that, I wasn't all that crazy about the Toyo tires I had anyway, so it would have been kind of silly to get more of them. All of which is to say that I went back to the shop today and told them I wanted to get 4 new matching tires, and they were totally nice about it. I'm going to get a nice new set of Bridgestone tires (on sale!) installed next week for about the same per -tire price, just times 4 rather than 3, but I'm happy to pay the extra $85 for the added peace of mind. Thanks again, friends.
posted by littlecatfeet at 8:13 PM on September 28, 2017

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