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My 2008 MINI Cooper S w/ JCW package has worn the front tires down to the wear bars (in 12k miles). The rear tires still look almost new (I haven't measured, but I'd guess they have at least 6/32s left). I imagine this is due to my "spirited" driving style. The wear on the fronts is even, so I don't suspect any suspension problems.

My question is will I cause any extra wear or damage by replacing only the worn-out fronts? I would move the existing rears to the front and put the new tires on the back. Tire size matches, but brand and model would be different.

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You shouldn't run into any issues only replacing two tires, as long as they are on the same axle (as you are suggesting). If the vehicle was an All Wheel Drive (AWD) model, you'd not want to do it. Seeing as how your JCW is only 2WD, there won't be an issue with it. Do exactly as you suggested, that is moving the rear tires to the front and putting the new tires in the rear. Most shops I've ever frequented require this to happen (I have no clue why, really).

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    The theory is that with worn rear tires there is potential to oversteer (spin) as the rears loose traction first, especially on a wet road. This is far more a real issue on a rear drive car. Most front drives understeer so dominantly to begin with that slight differences in tire wear wont matter. – agentp Mar 28 '17 at 0:47
  • @agentp - So, you're then saying, less traction on the front equates to a good thing? – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Mar 28 '17 at 0:48
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    Id be more inclined to think its to ensure the rears dont age too much. On my front wheel drives ive normally worn the fronts to 3mm when the rears still have 6mm. That means i could potentially use another set on the front and therefore have five or six yr old tyres at the back. By switching them to the front they will wear quicker than the new rears and need replaced before they are five or six yrs old. – Mauro Mar 28 '17 at 6:16
  • A front crash is not as dangerous as a side crash. Why does this matters? Imagine an emergency braking on a rainy road: The new front tires are holding but the worn rear tires loose grip. Result: The car "wants" to spin, resulting in a higher chance of a side impact. – Martin Mar 28 '17 at 7:31

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