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Should all tyres be changed at once on a 4WD vehicle such as our Freelander?

My wife's 2005 Freelander had an irreparable puncture. Four new Yokohamas had been put on about 15 months earlier and had done about 10,000 miles. The local Yokohama outlet explained that the precise tyre model was no longer made but they said that for a 4-wheel drive vehicle it is recommended that all four tyres are replaced, as if one is a lot newer than the others it can burn out the gearbox. Somewhat surprised I asked if anyone took this advice and was told that quite often they did. In the event the Yokahama dealer managed to get two of the original tyres from a broker, which were put on the rear axle and we used the left over as a spare. Should we have replaced all four tyres, or was the risk to our gearbox being exaggerated?

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The advice you were given is absolutely correct. All four tyres on an automated 4WD system need to be the same rolling circumference otherwise the system can interpret the difference as slip and engage 4WD.
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