“Which tire wears faster in a 4×4?” Has been asked often. Well, the front tires wear faster in a 4×4.
Most times, when people complain of tire wear, it is almost always the tires at the front.
This does not mean that rear tires do not wear. Of course, they do. But that is a far less occurrence relative to cases of front tire wear.
It is a good thing that car owners and other searchers have been finding answers and reasons for this cause to seek a solution to prolong tire life.
While some people seek answers to this question, others who are more practically into the automobile world know that the front tire wears faster – they are only faced with one question – “why?”
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Here are some of the reasons why the front tires wear faster
In a perfect 4×4 automobile world, all tires are supposed to wear evenly since in 4×4 the automobile engine powers all four wheels evenly.
But then the front tires still wear out faster. This is due to:
- Steering force
- Engine load
- Overinflating tires
1. Steering force
The responsibility of pulling over the vehicle in any direction is rested on the front tires.
As such, it is only logical that all the steering forces are rested on the front tires. The rear tires just follow the path. Dry steering is also one major factor that causes front tire wear.
If you have ever seen any driver turning their steering just to stay right in their parking space after having turned off their automobile ignition, then you have a better understanding of what this means.
It is not good to move tires on pavements or parking lots when they are in stationary positions. Besides, dry steering also puts pressure on steering systems and causes damage to them.
2. Engine load
Going by the principles of criteria of valid inference and demonstration, it is only right that the tires that bear more load while in stationary position and motion should wear out faster.
And the weight that car engines put on front tires tells on them. This makes front tires wear out, because the more the load, the more the intensity of the contact between the tires and the road.
And this intensity determines the extent of friction. This friction, in the end, decides the tire’s wear speed. All of these, we have seen on the front tires.
There is less rolling resistance when your wheels are aligned properly. And high rolling resistance tires are often short-lived because of the presence of constant friction.
The misalignment of wheels causes tire drag. And if this continues unchecked, then your tires are sure to wear unevenly. Most of which are going to tell intensively on the front tires.
It’s more pronounced in the front tires because of the mechanical circumstances surrounding them as mentioned above.
They bear more weight and are responsible for the car starting ON. When alignment is done, the wheels of vehicles sync with one another on the road surface.
This is because the suspension is brought to its ideal positioning and configuration. When this is tempered with, your wheels suffer a dramatic handling capability drop.
In your effort to handle these misaligned wheels is the birth of constant pressure as you will always have to set them right while in motion.
Of course, the effect of this hugely affects the front tires.
Braking has been known to be one of the major causation factors of front tire wear in 4×4 vehicles because of the percentage of braking distribution force geared towards the front and rear tires.
In 4×4 vehicles, only 20 percent of braking force reaches the rear tires while the front tires account for 80 percent brake pull.
The 80 and 20 percentage brake force in the front and rare tires is an obvious pointer to the fact that braking will cause the front tires to wear out four times faster than the rear tires.
Understand that while braking, the vehicle’s rear force gives a push to the vehicle’s center of gravity and makes the vehicle rotate up in the rear, and down in the front.
Moreover, the extra downward pressure in the front and little pressure present in the rear means only one thing – an elevated percentage of braking traction, thus, there is more available braking force in the front than it is at the rear before the skid (sliding) starts.
4. Overinflated tires
The air pressure in your tires carries the entire weight of your car. And since a higher percentage of your car’s weight is at the front, then you should know your front tires carry more weight.
This means that, even if you overinflated all four tires, it is going to tell more on the front tires, and the result is a high front tire wear rate.
You get more bumper rides from overinflated tires. This, in turn, makes the tire center round out quickly compared to the tire edges.
This happens to all four tires if overinflated, but it is often extreme in the front tires.
What to do to reduce wear in the front tires?
- Adopt and maintain good driving habits
- Monitor and maintain good tire air pressure
- Engage in a tire rotation at the appropriate time
- Check your wheel alignment regularly
1. Adopt and maintain good driving habits
All tire wear is completely unavoidable. But of course, you can avoid some bad driving behaviors that spur tire wear.
For example, you are going to wear out the front tires of your vehicles pretty quick if you are the type that takes turns too fast.
Possible tire leaks can also result in hitting portholes too — It can even temper with your wheel alignment.
Also, do well to cut out on the habit of speeding over puddles as there is a high probability of large potholes hiding therein.
2. Monitor and maintain good tire air pressure
Over time, tires lose their air pressure. If properly inflated, then there is an even distribution of force from the car to the road that helps with good car balance and reduced extent of tire wear when driving.
If overinflated, then your tires cannot make proper contact with the road, causing a bounce-like motion, increased tire wear, and reduced tire lifespan.
An underinflated tire on the other hand will lead to greater flexing of the sidewalls of the tire causing them to be hot, and if this is not checked and corrected, it will lead to a blowout.
Other perils of overinflated or underinflated tires are the loss of stability, negative effects on handling, and largely tire wear. Especially the front tires.
3. Engage in a tire rotation at the appropriate time
Since the front tires wear out easily, the adoption of tire rotation has been helpful. This doesn’t defile physics though.
Rotation doesn’t stop tire wear, it only helps with the even distribution of tire wear on all of the tires, such that there is an extension for tire lifespan.
However, tire rotation has rules that guide it. You are advised to rotate your tires every 3000 to 5000 miles. or every time you are faced with the need for an oil change.
Nonetheless, if your car manual reads that you do not need frequent oil changes, then you should at the very least, rotate your tires after every six months.
4. Check your wheel alignment regularly
You will be encountering driving hazards and tire wear if your car does not have the proper alignment that it requires. Misaligned tires wear out unevenly and faster.
This is when the tire begins to come off with a slightly torn and worn appearance from bad traction.
Bad traction leads to bad tire tread, and a bad tire tread is an obvious pointer of a worn-out tire.
Automobile experts have always hammered on the need for alignment because it is the only way to help your car to meet the road at an ideal angle.
With this, your tires are geared towards the wheel wells and your wheels get to point straight.
It is only through this means that your vehicle’s wheels can be adjusted to the original spec, such that you have a smooth ride and an extension of tire life.
Do you need to change all four tires on a 4×4?
You might have heard about a change of tire in other vehicles with different drives. But when tires rotate on an all-four-wheel, do you still need to change them?
Of course, you do need to change all four tires on a 4×4 when they are worn.
My research from different professional sources advised that you should change all tires that operate on all four wheels at regular intervals as this is a safety measure.
You will be causing harm to your drive-train if you replace less than four tires. For this reason, manufacturers of 4×4 vehicles have strictly hammered on the importance of replacing all four tires.
The drive-line of the 4×4 has specialized components, and these components are only designed to permit momentary differences in the speed of its wheel rotation when the vehicle spins a tire or temporarily turns a corner.
And to ensure that this system works properly, all four tires MUST be on the same tread depth, of the same manufacturer, and the same tread patterns.
If the tires are not of the same manufacturer, tread depth, and tread patterns, then their differences will be 100% pronounced.
And for the fact that they are not designed to function this way will lead to intense wear and excess heat on the components of the drive-line until they fail.
NOTE: The time interval at which your vehicle needs tire change is more dependent on the type and quality of your car tire than it is dependent on the type of drive that your car operates on — whether it’s a 4×4 or an AWD.
In what situation can you not change all four tires?
Although it has been strictly advised by the manufacturers of 4×4 to always change all four tires whenever there is a need for a tire change.
The reason is that 4×4 is not designed to function properly on tires with different tire tread depth and tread patterns as it will eventually lead to failure.
However, there are exceptions to this rule. The only exceptions given in this case are if the tire you are changing and the existing ones are of the same tread depth and tread patterns.
If this is not the case, then there is still the possibility of opting for a tire whose tread patterns and depth are not the same as the existing ones in the car, but are of insignificant difference.
Whenever there is a need to replace less than four tires on 4×4, the tire life of the remaining tires MUST be measured to know if their existing tread depths can suffice for the proper functioning of the 4×4 system.
Replacing three or one tire is not advisable except if you are making a switch with a full-size spare of the same size, model, manufacturer, and tread depth of the new one you wish to Install.
Should new tires go on the front or the back in a 4×4?
Several years ago, the advice was reversed owing to two factors, stopping and steering.
Tires with deep tread have less possibility to hydroplane, thus, your steering is retained, and of course, from the front brake.
However, recent technology and modern thinking have made a total overhaul on the earlier recommendation why new tires in 4×4 should go to the rear and not the front.
And for this, they gave two major reasons.
The first reason is: you will continue to head straight if your front tire ever hydroplane.
But your car immediately becomes unstable when your back tires hydroplanes, and there is a high probability that you will lose control.
This situation is the same under braking. If you have your front tire locked, you will go straight, but locking the rear tires, there is a high chance that you will enter a spin as the hydroplaning or skidding tires decide.
The second reason is: if hydroplaning ever meets you on a curve and it’s the front tires involved, you will only lose front brakes and steering.
Nonetheless, you will still go straight ahead. Your deep tread is less likely to hydroplane when the new tire is on the rear, and you will still be in contact with the road and still have braking.
It will only slow the speed of the vehicle below hydroplane speed, but you will have control over the steering.
But if your rear tire eventually hydroplanes, your car will spin very fast just like it would if you were on ice.
Therefore, your best tires should be installed in the rear. But never allow your front tires at any point in time to wear below the legal minimum limit.