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Michelin Proving Grounds Tire Test – Video
If you can only replace two tires on your car, where should you place the newer two tires? Watch this tire safety test be conducted at the Michelin Proving Grounds.
When tires are replaced in pairs in situations like these, the new tires should always be installed on the rear axle and the partially worn tires moved to the front. New tires on the rear axle help the driver more easily maintain control on wet roads since deeper treaded tires are better at resisting hydroplaning.
Hydroplaning occurs when the tire cannot process enough water through its tread design to maintain effective contact with the road. In moderate to heavy rain, water can pool up in road ruts, depressions and pockets adjacent to pavement expansion joints. At higher speeds, the standing water often found in these pools challenges a tire’s ability to resist hydroplaning.
Exactly when hydroplaning occurs is the result of a combination of elements including water depth, vehicle weight and speed, as well as tire size, air pressure, tread design and tread depth. A lightweight vehicle with wide, worn, underinflated tires in a heavy downpour will hydroplane at lower speeds than a heavyweight vehicle equipped with new, narrow, properly inflated tires in drizzling rain.
If the front tires have significantly less tread depth than the rear tires, the front tires will begin to hydroplane and lose traction on wet roads before the rear tires. While this will cause the vehicle to understeer (the vehicle wants to continue driving straight ahead), understeer is relatively easy to control because releasing the gas pedal will slow the vehicle and help the driver maintain control.
However, if the front tires have significantly more tread depth than the rear tires, the rear tires will begin to hydroplane and lose traction on wet roads before the fronts. This will cause the vehicle to oversteer (the vehicle will want to spin). Oversteer is far more difficult to control and in addition to the initial distress felt when the rear of the car starts sliding, quickly releasing the gas pedal in an attempt to slow down may actually make it more difficult for the driver to regain control, possibly causing a complete spinout.