Is It OK to Mix & Match Tires?Maddy Scheinost
Is It OK to Mix & Match Tires?
Let’s face it. In an ideal world, replacing all your ATV tires, UTV tires, trailer tires and other equipment tires whenever you have a problem with one tire is the way to go. But in an ideal world, no one has to worry about staying within budget or about easy access to needed tire sizes and types. In the world most of us live in, the idea of only replacing tires that keep going flat, or only changing out the tires that show the most wear, is appealing. The tire experts at Treadworld want you to understand the possible consequences of mixing and matching tires, on any vehicle, but especially on higher-speed vehicles and equipment, so you can make the best decision for you.
The short, emphatic answer from tire professionals to the question “when is it OK to mix and match tires?” is “NEVER.” And while it’s easy to be cynical and suspect that tire sellers tell you that because they want to sell more tires, the truth is, science is solidly on their side. You may think that mixing tires will save you money, and while it may in the short term, the chances are that such action could lead to several costly, dangerous repercussions that will far outstrip any short-term savings.
Different types of tires are designed with different tractions and handling properties, and they’re designed to be installed as a set, either two or four. Combining different types of tires with varying sizes, internal constructions and tread patterns can cause steering problems and unpredictable, jittery vehicle braking and handling. Unmatched tires can prevent even weight distribution, which can lead to some tires wearing out quicker than others, which can lead to blowouts. Unmatched tires can also make it difficult to maneuver. Plus, with proper maintenance, tires can last in excess of five years, but uneven wearing caused by tires that don’t have the same specs can mean you have to face replacement earlier than expected.
Mixing trailer tire sizes and types
If trailer tires have different speed and load ratings, the lower-rated tires are more prone to failure. Different tires flex differently, which can cause swaying and control issues in trailers, and make handling more treacherous. Even if your tires are matched, if they exhibit signs of uneven treadwear, the impact on handling can be immense. The latest guidelines from the U.S. Rubber Manufacturers Association state you shouldn’t run tires with more than 1/4-inch difference in overall diameter. Most trailers travel while fully-loaded, without any reserve capacity, which means the slightest amount of extra weight on one tire can push it over the load range and lead to a blowout.
Mixing ATV tire sizes and types
ATVs often come from the factory with a staggered set of tires, larger tires in the back, skinnier tires in the front, because that configuration enhances performance and handling. Skinnier tires on the front make it easier to turn and easier to navigate rocks and obstructions in your path. Narrower tires also are more apt to stay tucked in, under the fenders, which means they’re less likely to give you a mud bath. Wider tires in the back give you a wider footprint for more control, and also better overall stability, especially with rear wheel drive. Unmatched tires can lead to drive train or transmission damage. Stress and strain is added to your engine if the tires on each axle are not the same diameter, while a difference in tread type and depth can result in your wheels spinning at different speeds, also not a healthy situation.
If you do decide to run unmatched tires
Make sure to pay attention to the load ratings and speed ratings of all the tires. Each tire needs to exceed the manufacturer’s recommended levels, and the weight of your load needs to be below the capacity of the lowest rated tire. Whenever possible, put identical tires on the same axle, front and rear. Newer tires on the rear can provide a deeper tread for better traction, and less chance of dangerous hydroplaning in wet conditions.
Exacting specs: Treadworld RubberMaster and Master Tires
When it comes to the high performance tires you get at Treadworld, you can depend on the fact that our RubberMaster tires and Master tires are manufactured using top quality rubber compounds, before being meticulously triple-tested for quality and adherence to specifications, then X-rayed to be sure each one is flawless. The result is that two or four of the same Treadworld tires will match perfectly. Every tire we sell is covered by our Ultimate Advantage Warranty. Don’t hesitate to contact our tire experts via live chat or email with any questions you may have, and to get the best tires for you.