Front or rear: Where do you put your 2 new tyres?

Jason · Jan 24, 2021 10:00 AM

Perhaps in this MCO period, you're looking to get new tyres, but prefer not to overspend. So, you opt to change a pair first. Many car owners face this dilemma when buying a pair of new tyres. Do you install the new tyres at the front, or the rear axle? Sounds simple enough, but depending on who you ask, the answer is never the same. Let's dive into how each option will affect the car's behaviour ultimately. 

Now, let's say you throw the new tyres to the front axle. All other factors being equal, your car will have more grip on the front end compared to the rear. Therefore, the underlying grip balance will lean more towards oversteer. Makes sense, yes? Less grip at the rear simply means it is more likely to lose contact with the road first when you push harder.

Conversely, if you do the opposite, the rear wheels will have more grip than the front. What this means is, the grip balance of the car now is one of understeer. In this set-up, the car will plough wide when you push harder because the front tyres will breakaway earlier than the rears.

Image credit: Whiteline

So, which is the way to go? My personal opinion is, put the new tyres at the rear, as this is the safer of the 2 options. In extreme situations, it is easier to recover from understeer than oversteer

Most of the time, to correct an understeer, all you need to to is to back off the throttle (or brake gently) and wait for the front tyres to regain grip. In an oversteer, everything is heart-stopping, from it happening to the correcting. Get it wrong, and the resulting spin is rather terrifying for the average driver.

As such, for general usage, I would recommend the new tyres go to the rear axle. Of course, if you're feeling adventurous, you can always have a tail-happy time by putting new tyres in front. Just make sure you have your wits about you.