Can I Replace Just One Tire?

I understand the importance of maintaining my vehicle’s longevity and safety. One aspect of this maintenance is tire replacement. When one of my tires needs replacing, I often wonder if it’s necessary to replace all four or if I can get away with just replacing one. So, can I replace just one tire? It is an important question because replacing only one tire can significantly impact your vehicle’s handling and safety. We will explore the factors determining whether you can safely replace just one tire and what you must consider before doing so.

Replacing One Tire

Can I Replace Just One Tire

Yes, you can replace just one tire if it is damaged or worn out. Replacing all four tires at once is recommended for optimal performance and safety. Replacing only one tire can affect the overall balance and handling of the vehicle, causing uneven wear on the other tires.

It is also important to consider the age and tread depth of the remaining tires when replacing just one tire. If they are significantly older or have less tread, replacing all four tires at once may be more cost-effective in the long run.

But you can change one tire if your other three tires are relatively new. It is possible to change only one tire. To do so, you must adhere to the maximum tread depth difference limits of 3/32 between the rear and front axle and 2/32 for the same axle. It ensures that your vehicle maintains optimal performance and safety on the road.

A few key details must be considered to apply this strategy effectively. The tread depth difference between the rear and front axle cannot exceed 2/32. This means your tires must be relatively evenly worn for this strategy to work properly.

To make the most out of my strategy, you must buy the same size and pattern of tires.

For RWD vehicles

  • If you have an RWD vehicle, such as a truck or sports car, it is important to remember that the rear axle will wear more due to the power being transferred through it. For example, if you have a new set of tires with 10/32 tread depth, you can expect the rear tires to wear faster than the front ones.
  • After driving for several months, I noticed that my front right tire had gone flat. Upon inspection, I realized my steer axle tread was 8/32, and the rear axle was 7/32.
  • So, I decided to purchase a new tire, but to my surprise, the theory suggested that I should mount it on the right rear axle and rotate the right rear tire to the front right. It seemed counterintuitive, but after researching, I learned this would help maintain even wear on all tires and extend their lifespan.
  • It is particularly crucial as the rear tires wear more quickly than the front ones. As you replace tires, it is important to ensure that the new tire on your rear axle has a similar tread depth as the front right one. Otherwise, you may experience issues with traction and handling that could compromise your safety on the road.
  • After completing all the necessary rotations, the final step is here. It is time to bring our tires back to their original positions. The last rotation will ensure our tire wear is evenly distributed and prevent further damage. As we mount the new tire, it will be placed on the front right axle, where it will take its rightful place and continue to serve us for miles to come.

For FWD vehicles

In a front-wheel drive (FWD) vehicle, it’s important to remember that the front axle tires tend to wear more quickly than the rear. If you have a flat tire and want to replace only two instead of all four, placing the new tire on the rear axle is best. They will help ensure even wear across all four tires and maintain proper handling and performance. The remaining steps for changing a tire are the same regardless of whether you have an FWD or other type of vehicle.

For 4WD

The use of a strategy is not applicable. This is because these vehicles are designed with all four wheels in motion, providing maximum traction and control on all types of terrain. Unlike 2-wheel drive vehicles that require a specific strategy to maneuver through rough terrain or slippery conditions, 4WD vehicles are equipped to handle such challenges without additional tactics. Drivers of these vehicles can rest assured that they have the tools to navigate any landscape easily.

Replacing Two Tires

Can I Replace Just One Tire

Replacing two tires is a smart move when you have a flat tire. It’s also safer than replacing just one tire, as it ensures both tires on the same axle have similar tread depths and wear patterns. They help maintain proper handling and stability when driving, particularly in wet or slippery conditions. There are restrictions to consider when replacing two tires.


It is important to know the guidelines before making any decisions. The tread depth difference between the rear and front axle can’t be more than 3/32. If your tires wear beyond this threshold, you must replace all four.

But what if only two of your tires need to be replaced? In this case, you should swap the less worn tires from the rear axle to the front and mount new ones at the back. By doing this, you will ensure that both axles have similar traction levels, which will improve stability and handling during driving.

It is important to remember that replacing only two tires can negatively affect your vehicle’s performance if not done correctly. Mismatched tire treads can cause uneven wear and tear on suspension parts leading to costly repairs.


The best strategy is to do the opposite of FWD. Rather than using worn tires on the rear axle and placing new ones on the front, switch it around. Put new tires on the rear axle and mount wore ones to the front. It is important to note that a new pair of tires should be used on the front axle to prevent hydroplaning. Since we have higher tread depth, hydroplaning isn’t a concern. Nonetheless, as your front and rear tires get closer in terms of wear and tear, it’s advisable to use less worn tires on the front axle for optimal performance and safety.

For 4WD

Replacing two tires on a 4WD vehicle is not recommended. If you still want to do it, read the owner’s manual first. This is because 4WD vehicles require all four tires to have the same size, type, and tread pattern to maintain proper handling and stability. If only two tires are replaced, it can cause uneven wear on the remaining tires and potentially damage the differential or transfer case. Replacing all four tires at once is highly recommended for optimal performance and safety of your 4WD vehicle.

Replacing 4 Tires

Replacing all four tires simultaneously is the safest option but can be costly. If your tires have worn down to 3/32 of an inch or less, they must be replaced for safety reasons. Even if they haven’t reached that point yet, it’s still recommended to do so as a precaution. When selecting new tires, pay attention to their load and speed indexes to ensure they are compatible with your vehicle. While replacing all four tires may seem expensive, it’s worth the investment for peace of mind and improved safety on the road.

Tire Shaving

Tire shaving is a process that involves reducing the tread depth on new tires to match the existing ones. This process is especially useful for those who have one or more tires with less wear and tear than the others. Shaving off some of the new tire’s tread can be matched to fit seamlessly with the others, resulting in a smoother ride and improved handling.

While some dealers offer tire shaving services, choosing an experienced professional is important. TireRack is one such dealer providing quality tire-shaving services for years. They charge a reasonable fee 20-40$, depending on the tire model and size. If you’re looking for Interco Swamp Lite Tires or any other brand, TireRack has got you covered with its top-notch tire-shaving service.

Final Words About Can I Replace Just One Tire?

Can I replace just one tire in certain circumstances, such as when the tires have minimal wear, and the remaining tires are relatively new? Replacing all four tires simultaneously is generally recommended for maximum safety and performance. Replacing just one tire can lead to uneven wear and handling issues, compromising your car’s stability. We advise consulting with a professional mechanic to determine the best course of action for your vehicle. Investing in a full set of matching tires will save you money and provide peace of mind knowing that your car is operating at its best. Don’t take chances with your safety – choose wisely when replacing your tires.


Do you have to replace all tires at once?

Fitting four new tires simultaneously is always advisable to ensure your vehicle has the best possible grip and road performance. Doing this ensures that your vehicle is as safe as possible and that you are getting the most out of its capabilities.