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Ford Focus - Which set of tyres would be best on front axle?  
Ford Focus - Which set of tyres would be best on front axle? - solorize

Hi,

I currently have two brand new [b]Michelin Primacy HP[/b] tyres on the front of my car, and have one [b]Goodyear EfficientGrip[/b] which is newish and still has a good amount of tread left on it on one of the rear wheels, while the other rear tyre is an old perished [b]Michelin Primacy[/b], which I am getting replaced this weekend with a new [b]Goodyear EfficientGrip[/b]. To pair up each axel with the same brand / make of tyre.

My question is, which set of tyres would be best to have on the front of the car?
[b]Michelin Primacy HP[/b] or [b]Goodyear EfficientGrip[/b] to give me the better
drive & grip in wet / dry conditions?

What I would like to do at some point in the future is have all four tyres the same, but
as I can’t afford to by two new tyres and have therefore decided to just match the existing rear Goodyear with another new one.

My quandary is also whether to keep the better tyres on the front to give me the best
performance or move them to the rear so as not to wear them out as quick, so I can then replace the unfavourable tyres on the fronts when they wear out with the preferred tyres.

My car is: FORD FOCUS ZETEC 100 AUTO, 2008 , Engine Size (CC): 1596

Thanks in advance

Tags: buying wheels and tyres winter tyres changing tyres tyre wear

Ford Focus - Which set of tyres would be best on front axle? - RT

It's good practice to have the best tyres on the rear - easier to control in slippy conditions unless you're a race/rally driver.

That way you only ever buy tyres in pairs, not 4 at a time.

Ford Focus - Which set of tyres would be best on front axle? - John F

It's good practice to have the best tyres on the rear - easier to control in slippy conditions unless you're a race/rally driver.

I know this is the accepted wisdom, but I challenge it. For a front wheel drive car such as the Focus, I contend it is better to have the best tread on the front. These are the wheels you rely on for braking in an emergency, or going up [or down] a slippery hill, or steering sharply out of trouble.

I try to buy all 4 tyres at once, then swap front to rear at the estimated half life, say 15,000m for a careful driver, by which time the front tread is 1 - 2mm worse than the rear.

If you are going to lose control, I would rather go into an oversteer skid than an understeer one. Anyone else agree?

Ford Focus - Which set of tyres would be best on front axle? - RT
If you are going to lose control, I would rather go into an oversteer skid than an understeer one. Anyone else agree?

You may be able to cope with oversteer (as I can) but the vast majority of drivers can't so global advice has to use the lowest common denominator.

Ford Focus - Which set of tyres would be best on front axle? - unthrottled

I once had an awful set of tyres on the rear of my car and once it starts fishtailing unexpectedly it was difficult to bring it back under control. It's not like playing with the back end of a rear drive car when you want to. No, I prefer understeer to oversteer.

Even rally drivers admit that in most cases they can get a front drive car round a course faster than with a rear drive car. Power slides look impressive but it is more show than go.

Ford Focus - Which set of tyres would be best on front axle? - BigJohnD

I know this is the accepted wisdom, but I challenge it. For a front wheel drive car such as the Focus, I contend it is better to have the best tread on the front. These are the wheels you rely on for braking in an emergency, or going up [or down] a slippery hill, or steering sharply out of trouble.

Let Vicki B-H show you what happens: www.youtube.com/watch?v=l5YsQ_a_ijA

Ford Focus - Which set of tyres would be best on front axle? - unthrottled

That's pretty much what I did. (don't feel so rubbish now!) Most sharp braking is done when a driver takes too much speed into a corner , then has to brake suddenly. That's when you really don't want the back end to aquaplane.

Yes, you'll have a longer stopping distance in the wet with old tyres on the front. But if you lock up, you're still losing speed. If the back end goes, you just career sideways and can't do much at all.

This is one of the (very) few safety warnings I adhere to.

Ford Focus - Which set of tyres would be best on front axle? - John F
>Let Vicki B-H show you what happens:

Unfortunately this video has been removed so never got to see it. [I've been away for a bit]. However, with all due respect to young VBH, the resulting educated debate seems to support my view. If you start with 4 new tyres on a FrWD and change front-to-back at estimated half-life, there will be no more than 2mm difference [1mm in our case] unless you drive fiercely. The most common accident is probably sliding into something [back of car, kerb, etc] especially in the wet. So better to have the slightly better tread on the wheels that do most of the braking/gripping. And if all the tyres are worn roughly the same, the car will probably feel and handle better too.
Ford Focus - Which set of tyres would be best on front axle? - BigJohnD

The video is now here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=-rvAJSMT5jc

And she driving a a Ford F*c*s.

Also, here's what Michelin say:

6. Rear Tyres

FOR COMPLETE CONTROL, FIT YOUR NEW TYRES TO THE REAR AXLE

Rear wheels are not connected to your steering wheel, which makes it extremely difficult to judge their grip while driving. We recommend that new tyres or the least worn tyres are fitted to the rear wheels to ensure:

  • Better control in emergency braking or tight corners when the roads are slippery.
  • Less risk of losing control of your vehicle, especially on wet surfaces
  • Better road holding, particularly in difficult situations, whether your car is front or rear wheel drive
Ford Focus - Which set of tyres would be best on front axle? - ChannelZ

It's not like you'll be rallying with a 1.6 Auto, so it doesn't really matter. Personally I'd put the oldest tyres on the front, so as to avoid the risk of ending up with perished old tyres trundling along at the back.

I always get new tyres put on the front, run them for 500-1000 miles (to scrub them in, and wear off the mold agents), then move them to the back. Means I've never got a tyre older than 18-24 months on the car.

Ford Focus - Which set of tyres would be best on front axle? - solorize

Thanks for all the info.

I never thought that you would need to put the better tyres on the rear!

I always thought that you should put the better ones on the front of the car... Looks like I have always been wrong ;-}

I think I will ask the chap to switch the tyres over when he comes to replace the perrished rear, so I will have the two Michelin's put on the rear (which I got last week) and then get the old Goodyear as well as the new one being fitted, put onto the fronts.

Thanks again for all your answers they have been a great help and I have now learned something too.

BTW. Will most tyre fitting people switch the wheels/tyres over for the customer if they ask for free? or do they charge you to switch them over? If so does anyone know how much roughly it would cost for them to do this?

Cheers.

Edited by solorize on 18/04/2012 at 07:53

Ford Focus - Which set of tyres would be best on front axle? - ChannelZ

BTW. Will most tyre fitting people switch the wheels/tyres over for the customer if they ask for free? or do they charge you to switch them over? If so does anyone know how much roughly it would cost for them to do this?

Cheers.

I don't know about "most", but certainly the ones I use will. The car is on the jack anyway, and it only takes seconds to change a wheel.

Armed with a cheap £20 trolley jack, I can change all 4 wheels on my car in 20 minutes. It's really not a difficult operation. Most difficult part is getting the wheel trims to go on properly!

Ford Focus - Which set of tyres would be best on front axle? - BigJohnD
BTW. Will most tyre fitting people switch the wheels/tyres over for the customer if they ask for free? or do they charge you to switch them over? If so does anyone know how much roughly it would cost for them to do this?

Big chains like ATS and NT do it, FoC.

I use Blackcircles, and the local garage fitted the new tyres on the rear and the rears on the front without any problem.

Michelin (and no doubt other tyre manufacturers) recommend new tyres go on the rear. Ten Tyre Care Tips

Ford Focus - Which set of tyres would be best on front axle? - solorize

Thanks for the answers, I will ask the fitter to switch them over on Saturday for me and see if he will do it.

Cheers

Ford Focus - Which set of tyres would be best on front axle? - daveyjp
But Audi handbook recommended new tyres on the front for my A3!

I swap front to backs once the fronts are at about 4mm then change all 4 tyres once the new fronts are at about 2.5mm.
Ford Focus - Which set of tyres would be best on front axle? - ChannelZ
But Audi handbook recommended new tyres on the front for my A3!

Vauxhall recommend the same. Maybe that's why so many Novas and Mk2 Astras ended up in the ditch?

Ford Focus - Which set of tyres would be best on front axle? - 1litregolfeater

They always used to say, put the best tyres on the front as they do all the work, now they say, put the best tyres on the back as the back end always steps out and lets you down.

With your tyres, it makes no flipping difference where you put them, back to front, left to right, or upside down, it'll all be the same.

Just choose them by sight and wear.

Ford Focus - Which set of tyres would be best on front axle? - gordonbennet

I suppose a lot of this where to put the tyres argument has surfaced since they started putting drive shafts at the wrong end...never a problem when all cars were driven from the correct end...:-)

I like others will decide where to put my new tyres (and choose what type) depending on how the car handles, if i'm buying two they will invariably go on the drive axle, however i rotate things and buy a set every time.

Ford Focus - Which set of tyres would be best on front axle? - galileo

I suppose a lot of this where to put the tyres argument has surfaced since they started putting drive shafts at the wrong end...never a problem when all cars were driven from the correct end...:-)

I like others will decide where to put my new tyres (and choose what type) depending on how the car handles, if i'm buying two they will invariably go on the drive axle, however i rotate things and buy a set every time.

If your car has electronic stability control linked to the ABS system, this is supposed to help prevent loss of control due to rear oversteer (except in extreme conditions) so it should not matter which end has the best tyres, should it?

Ford Focus - Which set of tyres would be best on front axle? - unthrottled

If your car has electronic stability control linked to the ABS system, this is supposed to help prevent loss of control due to rear oversteer (except in extreme conditions) so it should not matter which end has the best tyres, should it?

This is the problem with electronic safety devices. People think that a computer can violate the laws of physics and get them out of trouble.

In normal conditions (ie dry) it would indeed make little difference, and any extra grip on the front axle would be a boon for both starting traction and braking.

The problem arises in wet conditions. Worn tyres cannot displace water as effectively as new tyres, so the worn tyres will aquaplane first. If the rear axle aquaplanes before the front axle, you are in trouble. It is not like playing with oversteer on a RWD car.

Ford Focus - Which set of tyres would be best on front axle? - gordonbennet
The problem arises in wet conditions. Worn tyres cannot displace water as effectively as new tyres, so the worn tyres will aquaplane first. If the rear axle aquaplanes before the front axle, you are in trouble. It is not like playing with oversteer on a RWD car.

The rear tyres unless on an odd sort of design like a very old Cirtoen will see the rear tyres following the route of the fronts, which will already have cleared the road of most standing water.

Another thing which no one ever mentions in this discussion....

The front wheels provide the overwhelming majority of braking force, better with deeper treads in front in theory providing the best braking?.

All theorising, in practice if i fit two new tyres on my RWD they go one the drive axle.

When i have fitted 2 new tyres to my FWD's they have gone, depending on the time of year and circumstances on the rear if i want to wear the other pair out quickly or on the front if i expected to need better traction

For many years now i have bought my tyres in sets of 4 only, and rotate as needed to wear them down togther.

I completely ignore the vehicles stabilty control if fitted, i try never to get in the position that its needed anyway, buying tyres good enough for the job in hand helps.

Ford Focus - Which set of tyres would be best on front axle? - unthrottled

The rear tyres unless on an odd sort of design like a very old Cirtoen will see the rear tyres following the route of the fronts, which will already have cleared the road of most standing water.

Not if you're swerving or turning, they don't.

The front wheels provide the overwhelming majority of braking force, better with deeper treads in front in theory providing the best braking?.

Agreed (which is why discs on the back axles are silly). But the weight transfer means that there is very little weight on the back axle under sharp braking to counter the tendancy to aquaplane.

In most cases, lack of braking capability in dry conditions is not a serious problem (reactions are probably the biggest variable). But wet conditions are a different matter.

Lack of traction on the drive axle is annoying when trying to get started from rest, but its not a serious hazard in itself. Neither is lack of braking force/traction. Even if the wheels lock, you still have a decent amount of retarding force so you're scrubbing speed. If you can't stop in time, at least the impact is at a reduced speed.

I've had a rear axle aquaplane once before, and it is really hard to regain control. There are numerous videos with professional drivers that demonstrate this.

I don't disgree with your reasoning, Gordon. In most driving conditions your theory is sound. Personally, I'm happy to forgo dry braking capability for predictabilty in the wet.

Ford Focus - Which set of tyres would be best on front axle? - hillman

This thread is full of good information.

Sorry to be a wet, but where did Vicky B-H pass her driving test ?

Ford Focus - Which set of tyres would be best on front axle? - Andy P

Don't have any choice with mine - rear wheels are wider than the fronts. However, I've yet to properly loose the back end (come close on a couple of occasions but I quickly learned never to use too much power coming out of a damp/wet corner).

Ford Focus - Which set of tyres would be best on front axle? - BigJohnD

Vicki Butler-Henderson

Ford Focus - Which set of tyres would be best on front axle? - John F

Vicki Butler-Henderson

Interesting Wikipedia entry.......not sure how it contributes to the debate. It doesn't mention her educational qualifications [understanding of mechanics and coefficients of friction etc]. Does regularly skidding cars make one knowledgable and wise?

No postings yet have convinced me to change my mind from my previous post - new tyres all round, swap front to rear at half time.

Ford Focus - Which set of tyres would be best on front axle? - Cyd

I suppose a lot of this where to put the tyres argument has surfaced since they started putting drive shafts at the wrong end...never a problem when all cars were driven from the correct end...:-)

not so. Land Rover / Rover chassis engineers were telling me to put the best tyres on the rear in the late 80's when I was running a 220hp SD1 as road car and a Escort MKII as rally car. Most cars back then were still rwd. Even back then, the effects of rear end aquaplaning were well understood.

I took part in a wet handling test exercise in 1992 at MIRA. I remember being scared witless when I experienced aquaplaning for the first time - despite the controlled conditions. I had never experienced such an utter lack of control over my machine - not even in the hottest of competition. Never have since and hope I never will again.

Ford Focus - Which set of tyres would be best on front axle? - Smileyman
Try to get all 4 tyres to be ready to replace at the same time ... you will negotiate a better discount if the garage has to buy 4 tyres in one go ....
Ford Focus - Which set of tyres would be best on front axle? - Armitage Shanks {p}

I have just had 2 new tyres fitted on my bog standard bottom of the range Ford. The fronts were worn close to limits and I discussed the replacements with the fitter He knew all about the "Best on the Rear" thought but reckoned that for sharp/emergency braking and steering situations it was better to have the better tyres on the front so that is wher they went

Ford Focus - Which set of tyres would be best on front axle? - John F

Quite so. Well done.

Ford Focus - Which set of tyres would be best on front axle? - John F

PS I have now seen VBH's video which someone has kindly resurrected [see my previous posts] and what a stupid video it is too.......round and round a smooth unobstructed track which bears no resemblance to any actual road. She deliberately controls the vehicle when the front tyres aquaplane, then deliberately fails to control the vehicle when the rear tyres aquaplane and makes a dramatic skid.

Your tyre fitter was right, Armitage.

Ford Focus - Which set of tyres would be best on front axle? - unthrottled

She deliberately controls the vehicle when the front tyres aquaplane, then deliberately fails to control the vehicle when the rear tyres aquaplane and makes a dramatic skid.

Have you ever had a rear axle aquaplane? That is what happens. People confuse aquaplaning with oversteer or power slides. Once the tyres leave the tarmac-you have virtually no control over the car.

Best tyres on front is fine-if you remember to take it extra easy in the wet.

Ford Focus - Which set of tyres would be best on front axle? - MikeTorque

Will people ever learn (probably not), here are a few real world examples of incidents.

4 cars have been wrapped around the same lamp post coming off a roundabout with a negative camber, all had poorer tyres on the rear compared with the front, and all went off the road in dry weather conditions. The rear end just went out and off it went were typical of the comments from the drivers, who were fortunately not badly injured.

More serious examples, 3 cars came off a A class country road whilst being driving around bends, all ended up in a ditch, one into a tree, the road surfaces were dry but a bit rough, the rear end tyres had low trends which couldn't cope with the demands put on them as a result of the deeper trend & grip on the newer front tyres. Drivers taken to hospital, one seriously injured.

Don't risk it, you put your own life at risk and other road users as well if you drive with low trend tyres or poorer tyres on the rear axle compared with the front. Put quality tyres on all 4 corners, preferably the same brand, if you have to change a single older tyre (puncture) then change them in pairs on the same axle and ensure the pair with the best trend is on the rear axle not the front axle. For maximum braking ensure no tyre has less than 5mm, stopping distances increase significantly below 4mm & maximum grip significantly reduces, so that's 1mm of safety margin. Also the lower the trend pattern the more chance of getting a puncture through the tyre.

Ford Focus - Which set of tyres would be best on front axle? - fredthefifth

Just had new Michelins fitted to the front of my 407. Had the front/rear discussion with the fitter who said that the rears would have bedded into the rear suspension and would need to bed in at the front during which the car wouldn't be right. Also said they don't recommend rotation any more for same reason.

I'm aware of the front/rear discussions on here and have argued that new should go on the rear myself but I took the advice.

If it makes a difference the Michelins on the rear are still pretty good, no more than 50% worn.

Don't shoot the messenger!

Ford Focus - Which set of tyres would be best on front axle? - tubbster

New tyres should go on the rear.

Why? I have a 2006 Focus 1.8tdci. The fronts needed replacing but the rears were ok. I had 2 Dunlop SP fastresponse put on the front. This made them more grippy than the cheapo rear tyres. first couple of days, i took a gentle corner with adverse camber at about 25mph, just as I had with last week's less grippy front tyres. Result very unnerving tail slide that i managed to collect. no damage except to my calvin kleins. duly had front and rears swapped. result - normal predictable handling in all weather conditions.

this may go against some people's conventional wisdom, but I will now only put my best two on the rear of my focus. maybe your car is different. suit yourself.

Ford Focus - Which set of tyres would be best on front axle? - Hamsafar

Best tyres go on the rear to help prevent the loss of control at the rear that usually occurs with a double swerve - when the driver swerves suddenly into the next lane and then swerves back the other way to get back on track and the car spins out and often rolls.

Ford Focus - Which set of tyres would be best on front axle? - RT

Convential wisdom is best tyres on the rear - for ordinary drivers without the skill and reaction times of Michael Schumacher an understeer skid is easier to manage than an oversteer skid.

Ford Focus - Which set of tyres would be best on front axle? - John F

Nice to see this debate resurrected. There is another point to be made,though.

I think all will agree that it's best to have all 4 tyres in roughly the same condition. If you always put the best tyres on the rear on a front wheel drive, the difference in tread depth between front and rear will always tend to increase which will adversely affect the handling, especially in an emergency.

I agree that if one pair is virtually new and the other is almost at 1.6mm it is probably best to have the newest at the rear, but I still contend it is best to try and equalise tread wear by getting 4 new tyres at once and swapping them from front to rear at around 15,000 miles, depending on your driving technique - thus putting the slightly better tyres on the front. After over 30,000 miles the tyres on our Focus are almost equally worn with plenty of life left [Nexen CP 641]

Ford Focus - Which set of tyres would be best on front axle? - Hamsafar

www.youtube.com/user/VodkaVideo?feature=watch

After watching some Russian Vodka dashcam footage of crashes, I think most minor accidents are caused by loss of grip on front (or rather could be prevented by more grip) and most serious accidents at higher speeds (>50mph) are caused by lack of grip at the back. With this in mind, I would prefer them on the back, but respect other's rights to put them on the front.

Ford Focus - Which set of tyres would be best on front axle? - SteveLee

Front wheel drive cars are much lighter on the rear - add the rear-to-front weight transfer with braking to the already front end bias and then you are brewing up real problems by putting the tyres less able to displace standing water on the rear.

No ifs, no buts, no "my mate said down the pub" best tyres on the rear with a front wheel drive car - end of. The smaller and lighter the car the more important this potentially life-saving information is.

Ford Focus - Which set of tyres would be best on front axle? - TedCrilly

Find yourself in a straight line skid in the wet and you will wish you had the good un`s on the front. Find yourself in an oversteer while exiting a roundabout and you will wish you had the good un`s on the back. So logic states you need to ask yourself which of the two situations are you most likely to encounter and go from there......decisions......decisions??

Fact is and given enough extremes cars get into straight line skids and oversteer situations with perfectly servicable tyres all the time.........so what else is there in the loop that can cause such incidents?

Yep.....pilot error, or as the old addage goes.....the nut behind the steering wheel!

I guess the real answer to the question is....It doesnt matter, just dont drive like a loon and learn to recognise and stay within not just your own safe limits but also those of the car and the prevailing conditions of the road you are travelling on.

Then you can put your nice new tyres on any end you want without worrying about what is best because you wont be finding yourself in any skid/oversteer situations and putting the theories to the test.

People tell me all the time that they are more than skilled enough behind the wheel to be able to handle skids and oversteer, my answer is...if you are that skilled surely you should be able to avoid them happening in the first place.

Ford Focus - Which set of tyres would be best on front axle? - TeeCee

The real problem here is that when the back end loses grip on a FWD car, the correct action is to accelerate, using the front to pull the rear back into line, applying opposite lock as appropriate. As long as the driven wheels at the front are pulling the car along, the rears will follow.

Many find this counterintuitive and will lift off or brake, which is a sure route to a rapid swapping of ends and a trip into the weeds.

Ford Focus - Which set of tyres would be best on front axle? - BenG

I'm going with 4 identical tyres fitted at the same time, rotated front to rear to equalise wear.

I take the point that rear tyres may aquaplane when they are not following the running tracks of the front tyres, e.g: when cornering / swerving. Having said that, I've never experienced aquaplaning on the road in my fairly ordinary cars (family hatchbacks) and so how often this will be actually an issue I am not sure.

However, if emergency braking is required to prevent an accident then the amount of braking force through the front tyres will drop if these have less grip / tread than the rears, which means the ABS will release the brakes more often and braking distances will increase. This makes impacts more likely.

To my mind this outweighs the risk of aquaplaning in terms of potential to cause an actual accident, given that slowing suddenly might be a requirement more often than aquaplaning is an actual problem. I take the point that loss of grip at the rear might be a problem when taking evasive action however.

I think having four tyres of the same type and similar age and wear, and cold weather tyres in winter, should avoid any problems associated with different grip front to rear.

Ford Focus - Which set of tyres would be best on front axle? - Cyd

To my mind this outweighs the risk of aquaplaning in terms of potential to cause an actual accident, given that slowing suddenly might be a requirement more often than aquaplaning is an actual problem. I take the point that loss of grip at the rear might be a problem when taking evasive action however.

Actually, the industry advice is based on sound research of real accidents and which accidents kill and injure the most. Going into a spin and heading off into a tree is extremely deadly. The car is at its strongest in a head on collision, so the latter is often more survivable.

NHSTA are the lead researchers n this instance.

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