2009 Ford Flex: First Rain
December 07, 2009
Well, it has arrived--the first significant downpour in the Los Angeles area since, well, since I don't remember when. At any rate, I felt the Flex wiggle a few times on the freeway on the drive in this morning, so it got me thinking about tire tread-depth.
As Brent pointed out about a month ago, the rear tires on the Flex are darned near needing replacement, and the puddles on the freeway on this morning's commute made it even more apparent. Here are a couple photos demonstrating the reason why.
Here's a shot of a relatively new front tire (note distinct treads and wear bars still below adjacent treads) that were installed in July.
and here's a shot of the rear tire with the wear bars flush with the surrounding tread which has become relatively devoid of sipes
We know the tires had not been rotated at proper intervals causing the disparity in front/rear wear, but at this point (with the rainy season upon us), the Flex is in need of a new pair of shoes.
By the way, the new tires we got in July should have been put on the rear of the Flex. Most tire shops will intuitively suggest putting new tires on the front of a front-drive vehicle which is completely wrong. If you can afford to, replace all the tires at the same time, but if you can't, then insist the new tires go on the rear.
Why, you ask, would we recommend putting new tires on the rear of a front-drive vehicle--or any vehicle for that matter? Because while a front-drive vehicle uses the front tires for steering and propelling, most of the stability of the vehicle is derived from the rear tires.
For a vast majority of drivers, it's far easier to identify, comprehend, and control a mild case of 'understeer' than it is to do the same with 'oversteer.' Luckily, many newer vehicles are equipped with electronic stability control systems, but there's only so much ESP can do once hydroplaning occurs and it would be better to avoid a case of oversteer (with new rear tires) before it even begins.
By the way, we're not the only ones who know this and recommend it, either. Check out this more thorough explanation from Tire Rack.
Chief Road Test Editor, Chris Walton @ 39,790 miles