Better tyres to front??

Submitted: Friday, Jan 04, 2008 at 11:56
ThreadID: 53101 Views:1985 Replies:10 FollowUps:2
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One for the tyre experts. Have a set of 4/ AT tyres, with 2 marginally better (by about 1.5mm). In a 'off road' situation, I'd fit the better ones to the front- reasoning that is would reduce understeer, and in 4WD the front 'pulling' action is as important- or more so- than rear 'pushing'.
On the other hand, when hillclimbing the rear wheels spin more, so maybe better traction to the rear??
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Reply By: cowpat - Friday, Jan 04, 2008 at 12:23

Friday, Jan 04, 2008 at 12:23
I'll not claim to be an expert but maybe if you put the better tyres at the rear you'll theoretically be able to climb hills that you can't as safely negotiate on the way down; so better tyres at front maybe safer much like fitting chains to the front rather than rear, unless it really is very slippery and there is a danger of the back end overtaking the front.

But on the other hand it is generally recommended for conventional rear wheel drive 2wd vehicles to fit the better tyres to the rear as it induces understeer rather than oversteer and most people are less able to control oversteer.

I prefer to fit the better tyres to the rear due to the second reason, but I suspect I'm in the minority because of the first reason, but I would not go anywhere gnarly without reasonably matched tyres all-round anyway. 1.5 mm probably makes no difference to a half-worn mud terrain though.

I also run lower pressures on the front which in practise probably makes more difference than anything else.

Opinions, preferably conflicting anyone? - Casper
AnswerID: 279734

Reply By: Gerhardp1 - Friday, Jan 04, 2008 at 12:47

Friday, Jan 04, 2008 at 12:47
Can't see that 1.5mm will make any difference, except perhaps when one set has 3.0mm total tread and the other has 1.5.

In that case it's time for new tyres anyway :)

AnswerID: 279741

Follow Up By: Member -Signman - Friday, Jan 04, 2008 at 13:03

Friday, Jan 04, 2008 at 13:03
Yea- guess I should have expanded that info..2 have 10mm- 2 have 11.5 out of new tread depth of 12.5mm
FollowupID: 543883

Follow Up By: Gerhardp1 - Friday, Jan 04, 2008 at 13:08

Friday, Jan 04, 2008 at 13:08
I'd say in that case, it definately makes no difference where they are.
From another angle, perhaps the deeper treads should be on the back, so you can equalise the wear by dropping some smokies........
FollowupID: 543885

Reply By: PeterInSA - Friday, Jan 04, 2008 at 13:24

Friday, Jan 04, 2008 at 13:24
OffRoad I have my best tyres on the front, hopefully to minimise chances of getting the tyres staked or ripped by rocks, the front tyres seem to take the brunt of the damage.

Highway driving, still have the best in front, in case of blowouts etc impact the steering. This reasoning for me over rides other considerations.

AnswerID: 279746

Reply By: Sand Man (SA) - Friday, Jan 04, 2008 at 14:18

Friday, Jan 04, 2008 at 14:18
I'm no tyre expert, but I am under the opinion that the best tyres should always be on the front of the vehicle, where steering is the most important issue.

Probably in your case however, 1.5 mm wouldn't make any appreciable difference.


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AnswerID: 279752

Reply By: cowpat - Friday, Jan 04, 2008 at 14:46

Friday, Jan 04, 2008 at 14:46
Seems that many actual tyre experts will disagree though - best tyres should be at the rear of the vehicle. google "understeer oversteer tyres" from

"... The recommendation from most manufacturers when replacing only two tires is to fit the unworn ones to the rear, and the best of the old ones to the front axle..."

Some magazines or other bodies - don't remember - have done "controlled" tests with average joe drivers to confirm this.

Of course this is all on-road behaviour, but I consider bitumen more dangerous than dirt just because of the generally higher speeds especially when wet.

I think that with modern tubeless tyres blowouts are probably rarer than driver misjudgement, bitumen or dirt - Casper.
AnswerID: 279760

Reply By: PeterInSA - Friday, Jan 04, 2008 at 18:35

Friday, Jan 04, 2008 at 18:35
I think the manufacturers and the magazines with their average joe tests, don't take their vehicles off the road like some of us do.

The reason why I want the best tyres on the front is on a trip I could have done hundreds of K's over rocks on dirt roads/tracks etc some tyre fractures do not occur straight away, the tread could have been damaged site unseen and its only when you are back on the highway and the tyre heats up going 80-90kph (towing a van) that you could have problems. If that's the case I personally would like the problem to be on a back tyre.

I had a blowout on a new rear tyre (2500km) on the Gunbarrel highway after travelling a 100k's or more thru bush tracks, earlier in the day.

Of course if you don't go bush its not the same issue.

I agree with your misjudgement comment.

AnswerID: 279790

Reply By: Middle Jeff - Friday, Jan 04, 2008 at 19:25

Friday, Jan 04, 2008 at 19:25
Hi Signman

This answer is different from the rest, put them on the front as you do not have a centre diff and on a long wet section of road, if it is a little muddy you will wind the diff up enough when you go round a slight bend the back can snap out and overtake you. This may sound extreme but I learnt the hard way and I know of two others who have had the same thing happen, always on long wet roads and at a fair speed.

Have fun

AnswerID: 279795

Reply By: Pete and Lez - Friday, Jan 04, 2008 at 19:34

Friday, Jan 04, 2008 at 19:34
Splitting hairs I reckon, buy tyres as a set and rotate them regularly and should all be much the same, not that I follow my advice on this issue.
Cheers Peter
AnswerID: 279797

Reply By: nowimnumberone - Friday, Jan 04, 2008 at 20:58

Friday, Jan 04, 2008 at 20:58
fitted tyres for years
always put best to front
dont ask why i cant remember
AnswerID: 279823

Reply By: blown4by - Saturday, Jan 05, 2008 at 18:01

Saturday, Jan 05, 2008 at 18:01
Since the front axle does 60% of the braking, all the steering and carries most of the weight (when unloaded & not towing) it is essential to always fit the best tyres on the front. Also should a tyre fail you would have less chance of losing control if a rear tyre were to fail versus a front. The above principles are even more applicable in a front wheel drive vehicle. Traction ascending hills and understeer, etc are secondary in terms of safety compared to the above.
AnswerID: 279951

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