Tire manufacturers now recommend putting your newest tires on the rear of your cars and trucks.

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Mar 01, 2002

Dear Tom and Ray:

My tire dealer, Quasimoto, looked askance at me with his one large eyeball when I told him that you guys had told a caller on your radio show to put the two new tires on the back of his pickup truck. Now, I don't want to get my tire guy upset, because he is an expert, after all. But when he finally swung down off the ledge, he acted pretty steamed, since he had just installed two new tires on the front of my Toyota Corolla. Does your theory apply only to pickups? Please clarify this for me. -- Leslie

TOM: Well, it's not our theory, Leslie. It's the tire industry's theory. Or, more likely, the tire industry's lawyers' theory.

RAY: For some years now, tire manufacturers have been recommending that installers put the newest tires on the rear wheels of all vehicles. Why? Well, the theory is that you have steering control over the front wheels, so if the front end loses traction, you're more able to maintain control of the car. Whereas if the rear end loses traction, you might quickly find yourself in deep doo-doo (i.e., skidding out of control), and you'd have a harder time recovering.

TOM: My guess is that this policy came into being when a customer, or his or her heirs, sued over this very issue. So, from then on, the official recommendation from tire manufacturers was to put the newest tires on the rear.

RAY: Now, don't be too hard on poor Quasimoto. We were just recently enlightened about this ourselves. And if you go to 10 tire dealers, seven of them probably haven't heard of it, either (even though they'll embrace it when they realize that it can be used to encourage people to buy four new tires instead of just two).

TOM: In any case, we do agree with this policy. And not just because our lawyers strongly recommend that we agree with this policy. So ask Quasimoto to move your new tires to the back, Leslie.

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