A vehicle spins out on a wet road or highway. It crosses the median divide and ends up in oncoming traffic. If the vehicle is an SUV or van, it may even roll.
The driver wasn’t speeding. And the road may have been perfectly straight. So what happened? Just another hydroplaning accident? Driver error? Maybe.
But maybe not. Perhaps improper tire installation made the vehicle uncontrollable.
"Tire Placement" Is Crucial to Safety
A vehicle’s front tires tend to wear out faster than the rear. When a consumer buys two new tires, he or she may ask the installer to put them on the front, and leave the older tires where they are.
That may seem like the sensible thing to do. But the tire shop is supposed to know better. Under no circumstances are the new tires supposed to go on the front. It doesn’t matter whether the vehicle is front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive, or all-wheel drive. The best tread is always supposed to go on the back.
It sounds counter-intuitive. But if the rule is not followed, and the better tread is placed on the front axle, the vehicle can easily "swap ends" when it hits a puddle. Especially if the driver taps on the brakes. And that can lead to a serious accident.
Tire Manufacturers Agree
Skeptical? Here’s what the tire manufacturers say:
Goodyear: “When you select a pair of replacement tires in the same size and construction as those on the car, we recommend you put them on the rear axle.“
Dunlap: “When you select a pair of replacement tires in the same size and construction as those on the car, we recommend you put them on the rear axle.”
Michelin: “A pair of new tires should go in back.”
BF Goodrich: “. . whenever only two tires are replaced, the new ones should be put on the rear. The new tires, with deeper tread, may provide better grip and water evacuation in wet driving conditions.”
Most consumers don’t know that new tires are always supposed to go on the back. But tire installers and sellers do. Or at least they are supposed to. That’s their job.