How Serious is Drivetrain Damage from Mismatched Tires?

Published: 11/18/21 •  6 min read

Tires play a very vital role in one’s vehicle. Bad tires can lead you to various problems and cause risk to your life and others as well. The condition of tires is as important as maintaining your car.

Following are some of the drivetrain components which can be damaged due to mismatched tires:

  1. Engine
  2. Transmission
  3. Axle drives
  4. Wall bearings
  5. Shifting between 4WD and 2WD
  6. Frame

Before discussing the drivetrain problems found in two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive, let’s learn the symptoms before-hand in this short video:

Drivetrain Damage in Two Wheel Drive

Different mismatched tire sizes found on two-wheel-drive vehicles will surely affect the drivetrain components of your car.

Mismatched tires can cause severe damage to the differential assembly of the car which allows the vehicle to push on different speed barriers and causes wheels to turn sideways on different tracks.

If the tires installed on the car are of the same size and measurements, it will however support the differential assembly making the car more stable and balanced.

But if tires are mismatched in terms of size and grip, there is a huge difference in the performance of the car even if it’s going on a straight track.

In short, It will reduce the life of the differential assembly.

Drivetrain Damage in Four-Wheel Drive:

As mentioned above, the same conditions apply to four/all-wheel-drive vehicles too.

It is necessary for the tires to be of the same brand, size, and tread because such cars are always operating on all four wheels while driving.

Talking about the transmission, it can be changed automatically as well as by the driver to have a different experience on various tracks.

Such vehicles with four-wheel drive transmission have a center differential speed that shifts front to rear and side to side shifting as well which makes all four tires important for the vehicle to perform at its peak.

The difference in diameter (even a half-inch) between the front and rear tires can cause problems for the drivetrain and several important parts of your car.

Let’s suppose that the two tires on the front axle shaft are spinning faster than the rear axle shaft because many four/all-wheel drive cars have built-in sensors that

allow the transmission to work even in slippery conditions.

With all the power and torque, tires are important for such cars as they depict the overall performance and conditions of your car.

Can You replace only 2 tires on AWD?

The simple answer is ‘No’, you shouldn’t!

This is because the older tires have sort of worn out and their diameter has been adjusted with the whole body especially the drivetrain. When you replace only one or two tires, their diameter and size are going to be a bit larger than the older tires even if you buy the same size ones.

This can cause a serious load on the drivetrain and is also bad for the traction control system.

  Hence it is advised to always change all four tires if you have to on an All-wheel Drive (AWD).  

Reasons behind ‘mismatched tires’

1. Different Tread Pattern

Mismatched tires often have different tread patterns. It is not actually recommended to install tires of different patterns on the front and rear axles of an all-wheel-drive vehicle.

The main reason is that your tires have to maintain a grip on the road and that can be only depicted by the quality of tread and rubber.

It has an important role in different weather conditions.

Mismatched tires can even affect the performance of your car which can cause serious problems for you and your car on the basis of handling as well as braking, even on the plain track.

2. Road Safety

Many situations can arise where you might need to replace one of your tires which is a very common issue.

Either you have a flat tire that can be fixed easily or there is a scratch on the wheel which mostly results in the replacement of the tire.

Whatever the case is, you probably don’t want to spend a lot of money on a new set of tires that can cause serious harm to you, your car, and your surroundings.

Tires with various wear patterns, brands, models can change the performance of your car in case of handling, road grip, and much more.

Mismatched tires can result in fatal car crashes, accidents, and expensive repairs to your car.

Such tires put serious continual stress on your vehicle’s suspension and engine power including the brakes/ABS braking.

All these factors can put you or your companions at risk and even the traffic around you.

Value of Mismatched Tires

The resale/value is another thing you need to keep in your mind that mismatched tires not only affect your car’s performance but also affect you in terms of its value.

Let’s say that you buy a used car with mismatched tires. Would you really consider the safety and be cautious?

Most of us will consider changing the tires as the durability is not that good of the used tires.

Mismatched tires also cause a blow to the reselling of your vehicle which is an investment itself but tires hold their price as well.

 Therefore, it is worth investing in a new set of tires for road safety and the performance of your car. 


Tires are the main components of your car. Good quality tires can endure your car performance up to mark.

But having the wrong set of tires just to save a few bucks can result in you having your wallet empty. It will not only affect your suspension but also affect your engine performance.

Mismatched tires not only risk your car but also put danger to the lives of others as well.

If you continuously use mismatched tires and wheels, they will gradually wear out unevenly and cause problems in the near future.

Mismatched tires can cause big issues regarding the reselling of your car as they often show a sign of a person who doesn’t take proper care of his car.

It prevents you from short-term financial savings but causes more problems latterly.