Whenever possible, it’s always best to use identical tires with the same tread pattern, size, and construction. This helps you maintain optimum control and stability for your vehicle. Generally speaking, you shouldn’t use a mixed or mismatched set of tires on your vehicle, unless the tire and/or vehicle manufacturer specifies that this is acceptable.
A few ways drivers will mismatch tires include: using tires with different tread patterns, using tires made by different manufacturers, using tires made for different seasons (summer vs. winter tires) and using tires with different sizes.
Every unique tire is designed for a specific job, a specific handling capability and to work together with a set of matching tires. If you use mismatched tires, your car can experience unpredictable handling and braking, which can be dangerous in an emergency. Additionally, mismatched tires can cause your tires to wear unevenly, making the time to replace your tires again come sooner than expected.
So is it okay to replace just one or two tires — or do you need a whole new set? It’s always going to be best to replace all the tires at the same time, because it will restore the vehicle’s handling and traction to optimum levels. However, this is also expensive, so we know it’s not always possible.
If you are only going to replace one or two of the tires at a time, try your best to purchase the same brand and tire model you already have on your vehicle.
If for some reason, you cannot purchase the exact tire again, you should do all you can to purchase tires in the same performance category with equivalent load ratings, speed ratings, handling and tread characteristics as your existing tires.
Using tires that don’t match any of the characteristics of your existing tires should only be a route you choose as an absolute last resort or in an emergency. If possible, have the mismatched tire swapped out for a matching one as soon as possible. Using tires with different characteristics and ratings can negatively affect your vehicle’s handling in a dangerous way, so avoid it if you are able.
In addition to maintaining control and stability, having a uniform set of tires lets you rotate them regularly. This helps the tires wear evenly, extending their life and making the most of your investment.