Is it okay to replace just one tyre?

By Julia Freeman

There’s no law that says you can’t replace a single tyre. The problem is that one new tyre will behave differently from the other tyres on your car, and that unpredictability can have dangerous results.

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The way your tyres perform depends on their size, their construction, type and wear. Before you start sourcing a replacement for your punctured, damaged or worn tyre, look on the tyre sidewall to check the make, size and tread pattern of the existing tyre.

Why you should change more than one tyre

When it comes to safety, your tyres are your only point of contact with the road and a damaged or worn tyre should be replaced fast. Legally, when driving in the UK, your vehicle must be fitted with tyres that are the right type and size for your vehicle so it pays to make sure that you’re running tyres with the right width, profile and rim size on both axles.
If your tyre set has just been replaced and you get a puncture it’s tempting to buy only the tyre that needs replacing. If the tyres have hardly been used, you could probably justify replacing the single tyre. Otherwise the only situation where you may need to fit a separate tyre is when you use your spare, and you should only use that to get you to the nearest Protyre garage.

Wear and tear on your tyres

But what if you’ve bought a single tyre that matches the size and make of the other three? The problem is the wear and tear on your existing tyres means they won’t match the thicker tread of a brand new one.
A new tyre with a full 8mm of tread will behave very differently than a tyre with 4mm of tread. You might not notice any difference in the dry but in wet conditions, or if you need to brake hard, different tyres can behave very differently and could impact on your safety.
That’s why we always recommend replacing all 4 tyres if at all possible, for the optimum comfort, performance and safety.

Do I need a full set of tyres?

If you drive a 4-wheel drive vehicle then whenever a tyre needs replacing you should always change the full set as safety is imperative when you’re driving in challenging conditions. With a 2-wheel drive car, you can replace a pair of tyres across the same axle. The key is to make sure that the following elements match when you buy car tyres:

  • Brand

  • Tread pattern

  • Size

  • Type (cross ply/radial)

You should avoid running winter, summer and all-season tyres together for the simple reason that they’re designed to behave differently in different climatic conditions and the compounds used are very different. You could be compromising your safety running winter and summer tyres on the same car.

Maintaining your tyres for best performance

If one of your tyres has worn more quickly than the others, it is likely that your wheels need balancing. This is a quick and easy job and can help your tyres to wear more evenly. We also recommend tyre rotation to ensure that your front and back tyres wear evenly although this is not appropriate for all vehicles.
Under and over inflation can cause extra wear and tyre on your tyres so check regularly that your tyres are inflated to optimum pressure. You’ll find the information in your user manual or the driver's side door jamb.
It’s easy to check that the tread of your tyres meets the legal standard - just slip a 20p piece into the tread and if you can’t see the edge your tyre tread is good to go although we recommend a minimum of 3mm to avoid compromising handling.

Buy car tyres at your local Protyre

Our tyre professionals are standing by to advise you on the right tyres for your car from premium brands such as Pirelli, and mid-range manufacturers including Falken. For peace of mind motoring contact your local garage or book a free tyre check. Alternatively, you can purchase tyres through our website with many styles available for same-day fitting.

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About the author

Article Author Photo
By Julia Freeman
Julia is Head of Brand Marketing for Micheldever Group and loves engaging with customers and the business as a whole to deliver their automotive needs.
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