Where You Install New Tires Can Reduce The Likelihood Of A Claim
If you’re like most Americans, buying new tires can be a painfully expensive experience, especially when you’re having to replace all four at once. In a perfect world, you can do just that, but with the economic difficulties our country has gone through the last six years, more and more people are buying new tires in pairs instead of quads.
While this may be more affordable, it can also increase the risk of filing an auto insurance claim if you’re not careful with where you have the new tires installed.
That’s why the Allstate Blog advises us tightwads to install new tires on the rear axle.
Allstate’s Mac Demere explains:
“On a rainy day (or if a sprinkler system is irrigating the pavement), even a small puddle could cause your car to spin out if you have worn tires on the back and new tires on the front,” he says. “Worn tires will hydroplane well before new ones. The water in wheel ruts found on older highways can be enough to literally lift the worn tires completely off the pavement. If you have new tires in front and old tires in the back, the worn rears are floating while the deep grooves of the new fronts easily cut through the water. Water is not compressible: It either flows through the tire’s grooves or lifts the rubber from the road.”
Since rear tires provide stability, worn rear tires riding on top of water can’t fulfill that function. As a result, you could end up “spinning out,” and when you’re traveling a busy highway, that can spell disaster.
But if new tires are on the rear where they belong, Demere states, “the fronts will lose grip before the rears – which can be an easier situation to cope with.”
“Release the accelerator, leave your hands where they are, and wait for the traction to return,” Demere says. “Avoid turning the steering wheel more or applying the brakes.”
The Underlying Cause
Of course, the underlying cause for why front tires generally wear out before the rears is front-wheel drive (or FWD). On cars that employ FWD, the fronts carry about 66 percent of the vehicle’s weight and do all of the steering and acceleration. They also transmit all of the braking force. When you fail to rotate your tires properly — every 5,000 to 6,000 miles — you generally discover the fronts to be more noticeably worn than the rears.
The overall stability of your tires will depend on how much tread remains. If your tires are at less than 2/32nds of an inch, you’re taking a gamble. To properly measure your tread, Demere advises using your finger and sticking it between the tire grooves. “If you can tell a difference when you stick your finger into the tire grooves, the tires with the most tread should be on the rear axle. Even electronic stability control — a system in your car that can help to automatically bring you out of a spin, in certain situations — can’t help if the rear tires are completely hydroplaning.”
When looking for ways to save on auto insurance, many customers make it a point to learn about all the programs and savings opportunities that their provider has in place, while neglecting simple things like care and upkeep of their tires. But by using best practices in tire placement and paying special attention to tread depth and braking techniques, they can reduce the likelihood of a claim, which is ultimately the best thing one can do to lower premiums. Remember: an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure.