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Michelin Says New Rubber Should Always Go On Back Axle

Michelin Explains That, When Replacing Two Tires at a Time, the General Rule May Surprise You (and Be Kinder to Your Pocketbook!) LAURENS, S.C., Nov. 9 -- Today at its proving grounds in Laurens, S.C., Michelin settled an age-old question about where to mount the tires when replacing only two at a time. The answer is: the new rubber goes on the rear axle, never on the front! To some people, that seems really weird, given phrases like ``put your best foot forward,'' but in the case of tires, vehicle safety dictates a more demure approach. Michelin says this general rule of thumb for replacing two tires at a time is the same for passenger cars, light trucks and SUVs. The rule includes all drive systems: front- wheel, rear-wheel, all-wheel and four-wheel drive alike.

When only two tires are going to be replaced, Michelin has always recommended that the new tires go on the rear. ``The new tires will grip the road more effectively and evacuate standing water more efficiently than the worn tires,'' said Ron Margadonna, Technical Marketing Manager with Michelin. This becomes especially important when traveling and braking on wet surfaces. In such situations, if the front tires have more tread than the rear, the rear will lose their grip and begin hydroplaning first, creating a very difficult situation for even a seasoned driver to control.

``This is far less likely to occur when the new tires are mounted on the rear,'' said Margadonna. ``If there is any loss of control from hydroplaning of the front tires, the driver is more likely to feel it in the steering wheel early enough to make the necessary corrections in speed and/or steering to remain in control of the car.''

If you follow the tire rotation recommendations in your vehicle owner's manual, chances are you will always end up with all four tires wearing evenly and therefore ready for replacement at the same time. Many motorists, however, don't remember to follow the recommendation. If not rotated regularly, the front tires on front wheel drive vehicles will tend to wear faster. When that happens, Michelin recommends rotating the rear tires forward and putting the new tires on the rear axle. At the next rotation interval, rotate the front and rear tires side to side, this will help ensure even wear. ``When it comes time to replace the front tires, just go back to the pattern of removing the worn tires on the front axle, move the rear tires to the front and put the new tires on the rear, '' said Margadonna. ``And if cost is a factor, replacing tires in sets of two may be easier on the family budget.''

Michelin manufactures and sells tires for every type of vehicle, including airplanes, automobiles, bicycles, earthmovers, farm equipment, heavy-duty trucks, motorcycles and the space shuttle. The company also publishes travel guides, maps and atlases covering Europe, Asia, Africa and North America. Headquartered in Greenville, S.C., Michelin North America ( employs 26,500 and operates 23 plants in 19 locations.