Are You Driving an AWD Vehicle? Why You Need to Replace All Four Tires at Once

Dear Mike,

I recently noticed that one of my tires was looking a bit worn out and it got me wondering if I would need to replace all four tires on my car at the same time. I mean, wouldn’t getting just one tire replaced do the job? I don’t want to shell out money for a whole set of tires if I don’t have to, but I also don’t want to compromise on safety. What do you suggest?



Hey there Lysander,

Great question! The short answer is that it really depends on your car. There are certain factors that determine whether you need to replace all four tires, or if just replacing one or two will suffice. But don’t worry, I’ll break it all down for you.

First off, let’s talk about the different types of cars on the road today. Most cars are either front-wheel drive or rear-wheel drive. These cars don’t necessarily need to have all four tires replaced at once. Usually, two at a time is sufficient. However, if you have an all-wheel-drive (AWD) vehicle, then yes, you do need to replace all four tires at once.

The reason for this is that in AWD vehicles, the differential and the computer work together to send the right amount of torque to each wheel to minimize slippage and maximize control. If one tire is a different size than the others, the computer will take an incorrect reading, and the differential will work too hard. Drive this way for too long, and you’ll burn out the drivetrain. And trust me, you don’t want to be shopping around for a new drivetrain – it’s incredibly expensive.

So, if you have an AWD vehicle, make sure you replace all four tires at once. But, there are a couple of exceptions. If your tires only have a couple of thousand kilometres on them and one needs to be replaced, that’s okay – it’ll still be within the manufacturer’s recommended variance. Plus, if you need to use the small spare to limp to the nearest repair shop, that’s probably not far enough to do any serious damage.

Now, onto rotating your tires. Rotating your tires not only extends their life on any vehicle, but it’s also crucial for AWD vehicles. Rotating your tires helps ensure that the tread wears evenly, which doesn’t place a strain on the drivetrain. So, make sure you get your tires rotated regularly.

In summary, if you have an AWD vehicle, replace all four tires at once. If you have a front-wheel or rear-wheel drive car, replacing two tires at a time is usually sufficient. And don’t forget to get your tires rotated regularly.

Hope that helps, Lysander. If you have any more questions, feel free to give us a call or swing by Urban Automotive – we’re always happy to help.

Drive safely,

Mike Urban