For as long as I can remember, conventional wisdom has had the car industry making sure the best 2 tires are on the front of any vehicle that is in for service. This weekend, I had to think twice about my beliefs after reading a column by John Mahler in The Star’s Wheels section.
The belief has always been that most driver’s are safer with the best tires on the front, as that ensures that they will have the most control of their steering. Mahler however points out that there is more to the equation than front end grip. He reminds us that todays vehicles are designed to keep their occupants safe in a straight, frontal collision. Also, when a vehicle is braking hard, weight is transferred away from the rear tires, which lessens grip. This combination creates a vehicle which is more likely to spin in an emergency situation. Given that most vehicles are designed to hit things straight on, not sideways or backwards, it makes sense that you don’t want a vehicle that spins too easily. Having more traction in the rear will create an understeer (pushing) condition, which in effect ensures that an out of control vehicle is more likely to hit it’s target straight on.
Years of advice thrown right out the window! It just shows that no matter how long you work in your chosen industry, you can still learn something. Thanks John.