Mismatched Tires Steer Toward Winter Trouble

 By Bruce Smith

As we head into fall it's a good time to start thinking about how to outfit your pickup truck with winter tires.

We know some pickup owners try to save a few dollars by swapping in more aggressive tires on the rear of their pickups to improve winter traction, or they buy two new tires instead of four to keep expenses down.

We're here to say those owners are headed in the wrong direction.

At least that's the expert opinion of Mark Cox, head instructor and director of the Bridgestone Winter Driving School in Steamboat Springs, Colo.

"You should always install winter tires on your vehicle in sets of four, whether you have a rear-, front- or all-wheel-drive vehicle," Cox said. "Using two different types of tires on your vehicle will negatively affect its handling."

Cox explained that putting tires with better traction on the rear of a pickup — or any vehicle — will cause the back to push the front in corners, which is called "understeer."

Putting better tires in front will have the opposite: effect, oversteer, where the rear tires are likely to lose grip before the front.

Cox also said the handling effects of mismatched tires applies to all road surfaces and driving conditions, adding that low-traction surfaces like snow, mud and wet pavement will magnify the effects because the fine line between vehicle balance and traction are at their narrowest margins in those circumstances.

To maximize vehicle control and safety always buy tires in matched sets of four and rotate them frequently to ensure all four contact patches — the area of tread that touches the ground — have the same level of traction.

We recommend you don't shortchange your pickup truck's safety by swapping out just a pair of tires when upgrading to a full set would be a better choice.

Cars.com photos by Bruce Smith

Find out more at: http://news.pickuptrucks.com/2015/09/mismatched-tires-steer-toward-winter-trouble.html

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