Why can’t I just change one tire at a time?

A man changing the new tire

Do you know how to change a tire? If you get a flat tire, you can stop by the road, take off the damaged tire, and put on a spare. If you don’t know how to change a flat tire or you don’t have a spare in your trunk, you can call roadside assistance and have someone come and handle your tire change for you. However you get a spare tire on your car, you’ll need to get to a shop and have it replaced as quickly as possible. When you do so, you’ll probably be advised to go ahead and change all four car tires. Why? Why can’t you just change one tire at a time?

In some cases, you can. If your other tires have good tread, you may be able to get away with just replacing the tire that was damaged. Most new tires have 10/32 to 12/32 of an inch of tread, and if your tires have lost less than 2/32 to 4/32 of that, you can probably just replace the damaged tire. Even if they’ve lost a little bit more than that, your new tire can sometime be shaved down just a little bit, so that it matches the other three. Some shops have a machine that does this, and they’ll handle it for you for a little bit of extra money. Still, it will cost less than all those new tires. If you decide to buy only one tire, it’s vital that you choose the same size and model as your other tires, or as close as you can get to it. If you get a tire that’s a different model, size, or tread pattern, it can have differences in traction and revolutions per mile that will make It wear out at a different rate. Getting the same tire minimizes this risk if you’re replacing only one. If you do replace only one tire, make sure it’s mounted on the back, for better stability.

In most cases, though, it’s better to go ahead and replace all of your tires. Why? There are a few different reasons.

  • First, inconsistent tread depths between your tires means less stability on the road. So, if you get one new tire, and the tread depth is deeper than all of the others, the grip your tires have on the road will be less consistent. This is important, especially when you’re driving in inclement weather and need your tires to hang onto the road. Similarly, if the tire tread is different because you’ve installed a different type of tire, it can affect the way your vehicle handles braking, accelerating, cornering, and driving through water. Unpredictability is not what you want when you’re driving, so you need tires that are all the same.
  • Your suspension system can suffer if your tires aren’t the same. Your car’s driveshaft and suspension system rely on the tires working in tandem for good performance. If one tire is different than the others, it puts your car under stress that can cause damage. That’s why, even when you replace all the tires at once, you should rotate them so that the tires wear evenly.
  • Your car’s computer may not function properly if you only replace one tire. Even if you have an older car, it probably has a computer that monitors various functions. It tells you if the engine needs to be checked, the tires are low, the doors are open, if you need gas, and so on. The computer draws information from your tires, and if you have only one new tire, it may create instability within the system. If your computer sends false errors, you may think your tires are low or your anti-lock brake system is disabled. It’s important to get accurate information from your computer, so you want to avoid confusing the computer.

If it’s better to replace all four tires at once, how do you know when it’s time? Uneven tread is one reason, but tread depth is also important. It used to be said that you could test the tread with a penny, but experts now recommend a quarter. Put the quarter into the tread with Washington’s head pointed down, and if you can still see the top of his head, you need to change your tires.

Whether you need to replace one tire or all four, Tire Pirates is the place to go for amazing selection and service from experienced professionals. Associated with Fairdinkum Tire Ltd and TC Industrial Tire Ltd., our company opened in 1991 and was first known as Fairdinkum Tire, then Tireland. As our customer base grew and our services became more comprehensive, we established Tire Pirates in 2006. Since then, we’ve remained at the forefront of auto services and tier repairs, preparing fast and efficient services at competitive prices. Our small, local business has highly trained technicians who offer exceptional service including free tire inspections and tire replacements for both personal and commercial vehicles. At our two locations, in Chinook and Foothills, our staff works hard to make sure our customers are 100 percent satisfied with our service. For more information about our large tire selection or to schedule service, contact us today in Foothills at (403) 907-0394 or in Chinook at (403) 907-0431.