Ideally, when replacing tires on your vehicle, it’s always best to replace them as a complete set of four. Doing so ensures that the vehicle will track and handle evenly, and that the replacement tires will either meet the original equipment requirements for the vehicle or provide some particular enhancement for your driving needs. Replacing tires as a set is always the recommended and preferred option.
Unfortunately, tires don’t always wear evenly, and you’re usually left with a decision when replacing tires whether to change all four and give up the remaining life and value of the ones that aren’t worn out, or replace less than 4 tires and risk compromising the vehicle’s performance, drivability, and/or comfort. When you are replacing less than a full set, you should at least try to replace them as a pair at a time. You should also make sure to never mix the types of tires that are on your vehicle. Don’t install a pair of run-flat tires to go with your other non-run-flat tires and don’t mix a pair of all-season radials with a pair of summer or winter tires. The results can be catastrophic.
When replacing tires, you have the option of buying exact replacements, comparable replacements or a completely different style and design of tire altogether. Obviously, buying exact replacement tires is the best alternative (when buying less than 4 tires), because they will exactly match the size, construction, tread design, temperature ratings, and handling characteristics of the other tires. But buying exact replacements is not always possible for a variety of reasons (price, availability, etc.); if this is true for you, you must choose between a comparable tire and a completely different tire design.
Buying a comparable tire is second-best to exact replacements, but going this route requires some knowledge or research. It will be impossible to find an identical tread design on two different tires, which is why it’s so important to at least make sure the seasonality of tire used as a replacement is the same: summer, winter, all-season, off-road, etc. Also, the alternative tires need to have the same speed, and load ratings, and be identical in size. Buying tires with a better load, speed, or temperature rating is fine, but buying replacements with a lower rating is never recommended.
Buying a completely different style or design of tire is generally not recommended when replacing less than 4 tires. This is mainly because the change in tire characteristics can greatly compromise the handling and performance of a vehicle. Industry recommendations state that a consumer should only proceed with this option in cases of emergency.
You can always call, chat or visit one of our 12 Virginia Tire locations for advice, input and suggestions.