All 4 Tires should be replaced on AWD car if one goes bad?

Have a 2017 Nissan Rogue AWD. A tire went bad at 30k miles and the tire shop said I need 4 new tires because of AWD. Is that still true now with latest AWD systems? Owners manual says all 4 should be same type and tread pattern. I ordered 4 so I am asking this for future reference.

Yup, you need 4 matched tires on most AWD systems. I went through this when I got a bad flat on my Subaru that couldn’t be patched.

If your tires are new, or still have lots of tread it may make sense to buy 1 tire and have it shaved down to match the other 3. Some shops will do that.

I have one bad tire on my AWD car. The guy at the shop last week said I could buy just one new one, because the tread is within 2/16 on an inch of the old ones. He said anything less that 3/16 is acceptable. Since I figure he’d rather sell me 4 tires than one, I assume he’s telling the truth.

You can buy a single new tire of the same kind you already have, and have it shaved to match the other three. Google “tire shaving near me” for shops that can do it. Shaving tires is not uncommon in the racing world. What is important is all the tires must be the same or very close in size, or the transmission could be damaged by the wheels turning at slightly different speeds.

I’ve never heard of such a thing being “required” and I work for Nissan (##employee) as engineer at the tech center. I have a 2015 AWD Murano that at 30K mile had a flat in the middle on nowhere Texas and I had to drive 300 miles on a donut spare until I got to the dealership. They just replaced the tire, nothing said about the change all four tires requirement. I now have over 160K miles on that car with no issues.

And BTW it ran fine on the donut spare until I started hitting traffic and was using my brakes more often (like near the dealership in Houston). Started overheating the transmission because it was seeing different braking capabilities on the one tire and was trying to overcompensate which overheated the transmission. Didn’t cause any lasting damage and no DTC was thrown into memory.

If there is a large difference in diameter as noted above they can always shave a tire. At 30K did you take it to the dealership?

I don’t go to dealers except for warranty work. Too many bad experiences . I know very good non dealer mechanics.

I ask because at 30K the tire could be under warranty if the damage was due to a manufacturing defect and not from a road hazard.

Ideally all 4 tires should be replaced regardless of if the car is AWD, FWD, or RWD.

You want the same level of grip on all tires. If you have a front wheel drive (FWD) car, you might want the best tires on the front for traction. This is a bad idea because in a hard braking emergency the front will grip and the rear, with the poorer grip will try to pass the front, swinging around, sliding and causing loss of control. It is better, only slightly, to have the best tires on the rear, non-traction tires in a FWD.

There are other considerations for the other types. Uneven tire grip can cause issues with the anti-lock braking (ABS) and whatever traction control your car might have. The days of replacing only one or two tires are in the past. And many shops will no longer replace only 1 or 2 for these reasons.

From what I learned from listening to Car Talk back when it was on the air, the problem with having one new tire and three worn ones is that the new one will be a slightly larger diameter than the other three. One wheel being a larger diameter than the others means that whell will constantly be turning slower than the others (since it’s traveling the same distance as the other tires, but the larger one covers more distance per rotation). On an AWD car, having one wheel constantly rotating at a different speed from the others puts a lot of strain on the center differential (which is there to allow the wheels to turn at different speeds when you’re going around a corner, but isn’t really meant to have the wheels turning at different speeds all the time, even when you’re going in a straight line).

You also don’t want to have two unmatched tires on the same axle of a 2WD car for similar reasons, but in that case you only need to replace two tires.

This is why I shared my experience with driving on the donut spare for so long. While the correct diameter the donut spare doesn’t have the same width and thus will not brake the same as the other three tires. I drove along for 250 miles thinking the 50 mile use recommendation was BS, but once I started using my brakes in city traffic it became apparent why they put the notice there as I was getting transmission overheating warnings several times. I don’t work on the brakes or transmissions so a little bit of trial by use was a learning experience I will not forget.

I also did not stay at the dealership while they serviced my car, so they very well could have shaved the tire down to a matching diameter in order to avoid having to replace all four tires. It was a 75K rated tire with 30K of wear and it was under a Nissan extended tire care warranty so they most likely went with the cheapest option. The OP’s Rogue should be a similar configuration only with smaller tires.

It’s not needed for Nissan AWD.

Please explain. Is it something to do with the CVT transmission that Nissan uses?

It has to do with the AWD system it uses. Most of the time it uses FWD with zero power to the rear, and only AWD at low speeds and low traction. So for the majority of the time it’s FWD which you can use different sizes, and only AWD with slipping, thus different sizes don’t really matter if wheel slip is happening.

This is far different than let’s say Subaru’s AWD system which sends power to all 4 all the time, that needs 4 of the same size tires. Thus a different size tire will cause the clutches to wear continuously (the clutches allow the slipping, but it’s not suppose to happen all the time). And will result in premature failure.

From the Nissan Rogue Owners Manual:

  • Always use tires of the same type, size, brand, construction (bias, bias-belted or radial), and tread pattern on all four wheels. Failure to do so may result in a circumference difference between tires on the front and rear axles which will cause excessive tire wear and may damage the transmission, transfer case and differential gears.

So, while not explicit about replacing a single tire, the circumferences must match. If the most economical way to do this is to buy a single tire and shave it down, then it would be fine. But in many situations it’s just as easy to buy 4 new tires.

my Rogue always starts in 4wd mode. There is a display that shows this. After around 10 mph it’s front wheel drive only.

I ran into this situation with my wife’s Subaru Outback, which has AWD. With only 20K miles on a set of Michelin tires, one tire got a nail in the sidewall, which was unrepairable.

The discount tire place was willing to replace just the one tire, but I carefully read the owner’s manual, did some online research, and called the dealer…and determined that I was putting an expensive transmission at risk of increased wear and premature failure if I didn’t replace all four tires. This was because there was too much difference in tread thickness and tire circumference otherwise.

The tire place was not willing to shave the new tire. They were happy to replace all four tires, which is what I did. They then gave me the other three tires to take home, which are still in my shed. I decided that if I got another damaged tire 20,000 miles later, I could use one of them. Unfortunately, we then replaced the car a year later.

So I now need to get rid of three perfectly good Michelin tires with 20K miles on them. I wonder if I can put them on Craigslist?

I had AWD cars in the 80s, and drove as I pleased – could never get an explanation, and still can’t. Wiki says maybe its fulltime or maybe parttime, That probly makes a difference, but my cars never told me, just said AWD and worked OK regardless of tires. No tire shop ever used it as a ploy to sell me 4 tires – this is the first time I’ve heard of that… .

I think it depends on the vehicle in question and the tolerances of the differentials in the AWD system. Subaru evidently has one of the more restrictive allowable differences in tread depth (2/32”).

More info here:

(The link is to an online tire merchant who explains the issue and is happy to shave a tire as an alternative to replacing all 4 tires. Of course, you then have to find a shop to mount and balance the tire.)

In my case, the tire shop was happy to install only one tire, and that’s exactly what they did. After doing some more research and talking to the dealer, I went back the next day and had them replace the other 3 tires.

drove 4 hours yesterday in rain so I am glad all 4 tires are new. I was looking to replace them soon anyway