I have a 2011 Ford Focus, and while the car itself is good quality, I have now ruined two tires in three months by merely driving over a screw.

Ford offers no road hazard on their tires, so I am pretty annoyed with Ford.

Both Costco and Discount Tires advise me I should either replace all 4 tires, or at least replace 2 tires. They also tell me that the replacement tires should be of the same speed rating.

  • I can go to Ford and get ONE other tissue thin breaks on sight good for two month Hankook Optimo no road hazard OEM tire for $135.
  • I can go to Discount and get TWO Yokohamas with road hazard for $100 a piece magically costing $280 total by the time they are installed.
  • And both Discount and Costco will sell me 4 tires with road hazard for about $550.

Discount will sell me ONE Yokohama Avid (touring s I think), but they advise against it. The Ford service rep offers no advice.

I am very tempted to get the one Yokohama, because of the road hazard, and I am trying to determine what the impact of having one different tire amongst three really is.

Thank you.

  • Basically the same root question: mechanics.stackexchange.com/questions/905/…
    – jzd
    Commented May 18, 2011 at 21:09
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    For what it's worth, everyone complains about "performance characteristics" of having one good tire and one worn, but no study is ever cited. It was fine when two tires were junk, but one that's junk is somehow worse? Possibly, but where's the pudding? I want the proof, not endless speculations.
    – Kato
    Commented Jun 15, 2013 at 18:21
  • In some areas, part worn tyre dealers are big business. If you have any locally, consider approaching some of these to see if they have a tyre the same as what you have on the car with a similar amount of wear. This could be an inexpensive way to maintain a matched set of tyres. Commented Jun 15, 2016 at 11:59

9 Answers 9


The answer is NO. It is never a good idea to replace a single tire, because each tire has different performance characteristics. You may not notice it during day-to-day driving, but any non-ordinary actions, such as swerving to avoid an accident, turning or braking in a rain storm, etc you may suddenly find the car doing something completely unexpected. Also, check with your insurance company - they may decide that because the car was "improperly maintained" that your coverage would not be good in the case of an accident with mis-matched tires.

Personally, I would not drive with different tires on the front and back. Even similar tires will have different behaviors.

A simple screw puncture should be repairable, however, unless you continued to drive on the flat.

  • I'm in a similar situation and I simply don't have the money to buy 3 new tires. I wonder if it's better to put the new tires on the drives or would it matter?
    – Parker
    Commented May 18, 2011 at 20:19
  • " Also, check with your insurance company - they may decide that because the car was "improperly maintained" that your coverage would not be good in the case of an accident with mis-matched tires." -- That's notable. And scary. Commented May 18, 2011 at 20:24
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    I have never heard of any insurance company anywhere using the you have different brand tires no coverage for you argument. The only imaginable way that could hold water is if you replaced the tire with a different sized tire altogether, but even then the improperly maintained argument would be iffy at best.
    – stoj
    Commented May 23, 2011 at 12:20
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    I know this is old but this answer is so bad, and has so many upvotes that it has single handedly made me reconsider contributing to the site. You are regurgitating sales pitch. Do you seriously think that having one tyre of the same brand but with 8000 fewer miles on the car is so unsafe that all of the tyres need replacing? Do you really think it'll make a bigger difference than the couple of psi difference between tyres you correct when checking tyres pressures? Do you know that some people rotate tyres at a similar interval and also rotate their spare?
    – kahbou
    Commented Mar 13, 2012 at 3:35
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    @kahbou: I wouldn't have a problem with one new, replacement tire of the same size & type. What I don't think is safe is having one tire that was different, and personally I would never have different types of tires on the front & back. It's not a sales pitch, but experience from years of driving, including at times beaters that had different tires on them.
    – chris
    Commented Mar 13, 2012 at 11:54

Not recommended to just replace one, but unless you're pushing 9/10s of the capability of your car, you'd probably never notice the difference. When I was working construction, nobody would do full set or even axle set replacements. When you're having tires destroyed as fast as happens from all the loose nails lost at construction sites, it's foolish to replace all of them each time. At a minimum you end up with mismatched tread wear, and more typically you end up with a different brand as the make/model/size that one buys never seems to be available even just a couple months later. Sigh.


The real answer is yes and no. It's perfectly safe to drive four completely separate tires as long as tires on the same axle are the same size. It's probably a good idea to get tires with the same tread life so that they wear evenly.

As far as the performance that Chris was talking about goes, the tires have an addition property between them. So if one had NO traction you'd have 50% performance, but if one was a snow tire and the other was summer you'd drive just fine in non-snowy conditions.

In my opinion, get matching tires per axle to save yourself from looking like an idiot.

  • 1
    I ended up gritting my teeth, going back to Ford and buying another OEM, no road hazard tire. The car has less than 8000 miles on it, the tires claim to be 80,000 mile tires, so I will assume that there is no significant difference in tread life. But the new tire shares the same axle as the old new tire replaced just six weeks earlier. However. However, I did specify white walls, so I still look like an idiot. Commented May 28, 2011 at 7:01
  • Wouldn't you want matching tires per side, not axle? People can only see one side of the car... Commented Mar 7, 2015 at 8:43
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    You match per axle so that the diameter of the tires match. Otherwise it's like walking around with one leg longer than the other. Commented Mar 9, 2015 at 22:33

If you've just driven over a screw you ought to be able to get the tyre repaired. I've had it done before and they basically glue a rubber plug into the hole.

As others have said, it's not usually a good idea to have mismatched tyres. The rules will vary depending where you are, but some countries (particularly France) won't allow mismatched tyres across the same axle. The UK allows them, but they must all be the same size and speed rating. Obviously I don't know what the rules are in the US or whether it varies from state to state. Mismatch between axles is less of a problem (my car has different size tyres between front and back axles as standard), but best avoided if you can. Most tyre dealers here will insist on fitting new tyres to the back axle if only two are being replaced.

  • The first time, it literally was just a screw, smack in the middle of the tread, looked easy to fix or plug, but the dealer insisted the tire wasn't repairable. I was dubious then in part because the tire held air pretty well. The second time, it was actually a more of a bolt and I knew it was probably not repairable. Commented May 19, 2011 at 17:22
  • I think the lesson here is to avoid the dealer if possible. A decent tire shop should have been able to fix the tire.
    – chris
    Commented May 19, 2011 at 22:02
  • 1
    Chris, absolutely. The car was basically brand new at the time of the first flat, and they eagerly told me to bring it by, and I naively assumed they had road hazard on the tires -- doesn't everybody? It took the dealer about 5 hours to actually repair it -- they told me they had the tire in stock, then they didn't then I went to work, then I left work early. Incompetence from every corner. Commented May 23, 2011 at 1:54

The problem is magnified significantly on vehicles that are AWD (not transfer-case 4WD) that use viscous couplings.

Moving the worn tires to the rear and buying two nice new fronts over-excercises the viscous coupling, and can lead to failure of a VERY expensive part. Ask any late model Ford Explorer owner about this particular heartache...

This is a specific exception, and not exactly a direct answer to the OP question. However, it is an instance where replacing all four tires with the exact same model (or at least diameter) is prudent, taking into account the wear.

Aside from that, I see no reason why quality tires of the same ultimate diameter cannot be substituted, whether per axle, per side, or per vehicle. Granted, a snow and ice Nokia or General express hypermiler is not the same as a Michelin Pilot Zero summer-only gumbal - but I'm pretty sure that any all-season tire of the same diameter and size is safe enough on a prudently street driven SUV, van, or sedan.

  • If it were really that bad, we should be seeing all kinds of failures due to driving with a tire that is under inflated. But do we? Commented Nov 28, 2020 at 2:41

Can't comment on MooseLucifer's post (not enough reputation). Here's my two cents:

  1. Tires of the same axle should always be the same size, ideally all 4 same.

  2. A difference in tire wear across the axle has a minor effect on performance, because matched tires of the same size with differing tread depth will have slightly different Diameters, although the difference is rather small (twice the depth of the starting tread, if bald).

  3. Having tires of differing sizes across the axle is not recommended to say the least. Bigger tires ROTATE more slowly than small tires at equivalent speeds, which means while traveling in a straight line, your differential will be constantly rotating which will cause it to wear out sooner. The mismatch will also negatively affect your car's "stance."

  4. This is also why you don't want a donut on the drive axle. Donuts are much smaller than standard tires (also not rated past about 50mph). It is reasonable to use a donut wherever needed in order to get your car home and/or to a shop, nothing more. Donut tires are inferior in every way compared to standard tires.

  5. Different size tires between front and rear axles is acceptable but will have some small impacts on performance and ride. As a general rule, wider and/or larger diameter tires have better dampening effects. Bumpy surfaces will cause the front and rear to behave in slightly different manners, which become more problematic at increasing speeds.

That's my 2...5 cents. I'm only here because Wal-Mart managed to install the wrong tire, and guess what? Yep, different sizes! Drive safe and smart!


If all of the tires are the same diameter, it will be very difficult to tell the difference. Of course, in bad weather, it might not be a good thing. They say to put two new tires on the rear axle of good quality to avoid spinning out in extreme conditions.


DT ik....NO..And always rotate your tires and never put a donut tire on the front if its a front wheel drive or back of its rear wheel drive

  • 5
    Welcome to the site! Could you explain what "DT ik....NO." means? Could you also elaborate on why the OP should always rotate tires and not put donut tires on the front of FWD or rear of RWD vehicles? Thanks for contributing! Commented Jun 14, 2016 at 12:59

I have a 2011 Ford Focus, and while the car itself is good quality, I have now ruined two tires in three months by merely driving over a screw.

Ford offers no road hazard on their tires, so I am pretty annoyed with Ford.

Both Costco and Discount Tires advise me I should either replace all 4 tires, or at least replace 2 tires. They also tell me that the replacement tires should be of the same speed rating.

It appears your car does not have all-wheel drive. Some all-wheel drive cars require all of the 4 tires to have exactly the same rolling diameter, so even changing to an otherwise identical tire that has no wear, the new tire needs to have its tread depth reduced. If the all-wheel drive is electrically implemented (like in my Toyota RAV4 hybrid), then this need to have 4 identical tires doesn't apply.

Because your car doesn't seem to have all-wheel drive, I would:

  • Change 1 tire, if the 3 good tires are like new (practically no treadwear), and if an identical tire (same brand, same model) is available.
  • Change 2 tires and install them on the same axle -- if doing this, the 2 new tires should be as similar as possible to the 2 old tires that you're going to retain, but don't need to be completely identical. This also needs you to maintain the tires on the same axle, so when rotating tires, follow a rotation pattern that puts the tires always on the same axle.

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