Tire Maintenance & Safety

All Wheel Drive Tire Replacement

Last updated 1/19/2023 - Originally published 1/19/2023
Written by SimpleTire

Front tires on an All-Wheel Drive (AWD) vehicle frequently degrade quicker than the rear for various reasons. While driving an AWD vehicle, you might realize how much braking and steering is being done by the front tires. Apart from this, aggressive driving, misalignment, under-inflated tires, and failure to routinely rotate the front and rear tires are additional variables that might increase wear and lead to having to replace all of the tires on your AWD vehicle.

What is an All Wheel Drive Vehicle

Any vehicle where all the tires can independently move is called an AWD vehicle. AWD automatically shifts power between the front and rear wheels for maximizing traction, thereby allowing the tires to grip slippery or rough terrains. Rear tires follow the front tires in a Front Wheel Drive (FWD) and the reverse is true in a Rear Wheel Drive (RWD) vehicle.

All Wheel Drive Vs. 4 Wheel Drive

All four wheels are capable of gaining traction independent of each other in an AWD vehicle. While AWD is always available, you can toggle between switching 4-Wheel Drive (4WD) on and off. 4WD is capable of handling more rugged terrains than AWD. Drivers of 4WD vehicles can select low and high ranges using either an electronic switch or a mechanical lever positioned on the floor. While the high setting handles slick on-road situations like ice, packed snow, loose sand, or gravel, the low setting offers maximum off-road traction.

What Makes Replacing Tires on an AWD Vehicle Different?

All four tires do not need to be replaced at once for FWD and RWD vehicles. An AWD vehicle, however, requires even traction on all four wheels and having mismatched tires could cause damage to numerous parts. It may be tempting to only replace just one or two tires to attempt and prolong those with some remaining tread life, but this is almost never the wisest financial move.

Why Replacing All 4 Tires Simultaneously is a Must

Changing just one or two tires may result in damage to the drivetrain or trick the traction control system into believing that you are regularly losing traction. You can do the best for your vehicle if you undertake all-wheel drive car tire replacement for all tires. It is also highly recommended to have 4 new tires when replacing tires for AWD vehicles in order to maintain an even tread depth.


Yes, all four tires need to be replaced at the same time as AWD vehicles use transfer cases and differentials to distribute power from the rear and to the sides. Less tread on one tire will result in an imbalance and the AWD system rotate one tire slower than the others to match the rotation speed of the tire with greater tread depth. Although this can be done at times, drivetrains should not be subjected to this on a regular basis, or else they may cause damages.

The maximum tread life variance that’s allowed from tire-to-tire on an all-wheel drive vehicle should be no more than 3/32nds of an inch. Any greater variance than that can damage the cases and axles on an all-wheel drive vehicle.

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