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I read through the past article and through others questions on this topic, but I am getting conflicting answers. I had a flat tire and the tire company put two new tires on the rear of my Explorer. They were the same make and model as the tires on the front. The mechanic told me that I should have put 4 new tires on the car because I can start having issues with the drive train. I went back to the tire company to get the two front tires replaced and they told me the mechanic was wrong. As long as the tread was the same on the front tires and the tread was the same on the back tires it wouldn't matter. So now I don't know what to do. I will say I did start hearing a high pitch noise when I go at highway speeds. Who is right here?

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Is your Explorer 2 or 4 wheel drive?

  • If 2 wheel drive there is no issue at all - the two ends are separate.

  • If 4 wheel drive there is a benefit to swapping all at once, as it reduces any differential slip issues through differing tire diameters, but you can have worse issues from having a tire running at too low pressure. It's not the tread, specifically, it's the effective diameter.

Have a read of this question for some extra info.

  • Some clarification might be needed? I believe 2013 Explorer's all have transfer cases and the option of leaving it in 2WD. If you can leave it in 2WD, it's the same answer: no issue having a matching set on the front that is worn more than the back, correct? Also as a side question: Let's say the OP does have a 4WD with a selector/transfer case. Would running it in 4WD at a lower speed (say to get unstuck from your driveway in the winter), be less of an issue than cruising down the highway in 4WD with mismatched tires front-to-back? – maplemale Jun 9 '15 at 16:04
  • @maplemale - Edmunds is showing it as either having All Wheel Drive (AWD) or Front Wheel Drive (FWD), so it could have either. Also, I'm not sure about the Explorer, but most transfer cases have a torque bias, where 60% goes to the rear and 40% goes to the front. Only when the rears are going faster than the front, would the bias matter and kick in to provide torque. With smaller tires up front they would actually be going faster than the rears, so this would not be an issue. Ultimately, 2/32 tread wear difference isn't a huge deal, if it's indeed even that much. Would not cause any issues. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Jun 9 '15 at 22:39

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