Dear Doctor Diesel,
I’ve just bought a used car from a local garage, and to my horror, I’ve found that all four of the tyres are different brands, though they are all of the same size. Should I be worried? I have spoken to the garage, and they tell me that it’s perfectly legal, but are they telling the truth? Although I can’t afford to buy replacement tyres just yet, should I replace them with tyres of the same brand quite quickly? When I looked at the car it was at the end of the day and I got caught up with the moment and didn’t pay attention to the brand of tyres. It was only when I was checking the tyre pressures the other day, that I found that one of them was Nexen, another Continental and two brands that I’ve never heard of. Your advice would be really appreciated.
David Gunter, Ludlow
Thanks for getting in touch. The dealer is telling the truth – there’s nothing illegal about mismatched tyres. If they have the legal tread depth, are in a roadworthy condition, and they’re of the same size, the dealer has done nothing wrong.
In an ideal world, tyres wear out at the same rate, but this isn’t always the case. Then there’s the issue of punctures – you’re not going to replace the other three tyres if one has gone flat. Fitting the same make and type of tyre is preferable, but this might not be possible. Some reasons could include budget, availability, and an emergency replacement.
My concern about your car is that you have four different brands. This is far from ideal. I’d hazard a guess that the tyres also have different tread depths, which is going to compromise the safety of your vehicle. At the very minimum, you should have the same brand and tread pattern on the same axle. You say that you can’t afford to buy replacement tyres, but could you stretch to a pair? If so, I’d strongly advise the purchase of new tyres and putting them on the back, with the Nexen and Continental tyres on the front. That’s assuming they have sufficient tread. Avoid budget tyres, but a good mid-range brand could be an option for your car. If and when you can afford another pair, put the same brand and tread pattern on the front.
If in doubt, pay a visit to your local tyre fitters, where you can check the legality and safety of your tyres. I’m a strong advocate for fitting good quality tyres, so my advice would be to change your rubber as soon as possible.
I hope this helps. Enjoy your new car.