Drive Guys: Replacing just one tire

Local,Ed Kriston,Jeffrey Boone
Drive Guys,?

I recently replaced a single damaged tire on my 2006 Forester Subaru. The car had 14,000 miles. Since it is a four-wheel drive vehicle have I voided my warranty or in any way damaged the car by not replacing all four tires? ??Ignorance is not bliss.  Awaiting your insight on the matter.??Thank you!?

Nancy C., Alexandria 

From Ed –

Hi Nancy,
This is a common question.  The biggest determent factor here is how much tread was worn off the tires, all four.  With only 14,000 miles, I would think that replacing only the one tire would not be a problem if it were the same exact make and model tire.  If the tire had a hole in the sidewall or hit a curb there should not be a problem.
If the tire was worn off because of alignment problems, it could be a problem.  If the vehicle had 35,000 miles wear on the tires and only one tire replaced, there could be damage because of the difference in diameter of the tire.  This is common in full-time 4WD because all four wheels are being driven all the time, one with a different diameter.

From Jeff-
Is this car a 4x4 or All-Wheel Drive? If it is a four-wheel drive vehicle and not all wheel drive then it may not have any effect on the operation of the car. If the vehicle is an All-Wheel Drive there are other things that matter. Was the old tire worn more than 25%? If so then it could damage an all-wheel drive unit due to the difference in circumference of the tires. So if your car is an all-wheel drive and the tires are worn more than 25% then you need to have the other three tires replaced now. If it is a 4-wheel drive then keep on trucking. You are ok. Either way check your owners manual for recommendations of tire replacement.

Drive Guys Ed Kriston and Jeffrey Boone are automotive repair specialists based in the Towson office of AAA Mid-Atlantic.
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