2 snow tires on FWD car go on front or back?

If I replace only two tires of a FWD car with snow tires, should they go in front or back? The other tires are all season tires.
I used to think they should go in front, because braking, steering, and acceleration all use the front wheels. However, a friend went to a tire store and they put the snow tires in the back.
What is the reason for that?
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peter wrote:

So he would go back and buy 2 more for the front.
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peter wrote:

The tire store's policy for hiring idiots needs revision?
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Message from Steve written on 2/7/2006 6:13 PM:

I disagree, they are hiring perfect idiots, it seems!
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jcr wrote:

Touche!
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If you have great tires up front and bald ones in back, you run a greater risk the rear swinging around during hard breaking. Personally, I've never actually seen anything remotely like that happen when I've run with just snow tires up front.
Put crappy tires up front and you won't be able to start moving in the first place in snow and you'll risk skidding off-road during cornering.
Better advice is to get four snow tires. It won't cost much in the long run as you'll avoid wear on your summer tires.
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wrote:

That's partially right. The theory behind it is an imbalance of traction exists if you have better tires on the front OR the back. If there is an imbalance of traction, it is better to have less traction on the front tires. The reason is, if the front tires lose grip, it is usually easier to recover from that situation before it causes major paperwork. So if the tire shop puts the new tires on the FRONT, there is a possible liability situation. Basically, they put the new tires on the rear as there is less chance that they will get sued that way.
Unfortunately, the imbalance of traction theory (why they put the good tires on the back) is only valid if the vehicle is being driven by an incompetent driver. That is, a COMPETENT driver can handle an imbalance of traction easily and safely, regardless of where the good tires are installed. You know who you are. Just rotate the tires yourself when you get home.
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On dry pavement, snow tires would have less traction in braking than regular tires. In snow, more. What to do?
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Get a car with anti-lock brakes and put the snow tires on the front. When I lived in the frozen north I always put the best tires on the drive wheels during the winter, whether front drive or rear drive.
Misterbeets wrote:

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Mike Walsh
West Palm Beach, Florida, U.S.A.
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Go with 4 snow tires. Doesn't cost much more in the long run as you save wear'n'tear on your summer tires.
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Eric B. wrote:

My view is that hitting the guardrail with the rear end (oversteer) is no worse than hitting the guardrail with the front end (understeer). Both suck.

It also COMPLETELY disregards the fact that different cars start out with very different tendencies in the first place. The irony here is that front-drive cars usually understeer like dumptrucks to begin with (understeer==front loses traction before the rear) so getting the rear end a little more free generally will bring a FWD car much closer to neutral balance. Putting the less grippy tires on the front just aggravates the car's inherent tendency to understeer.
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peter wrote:

Assuming this is a front wheel and not four wheel drive car, you would want to put tires designed for maximum traction on the drive wheels.
If your friend has a car with rear wheel drive then the tire store was correct to put the tires on the rear. If he has a car with front wheel drive the tire shop screwed up big time.
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peter wrote:

Inexperienced drivers prefer understeer. The rest of us can handle oversteer so on a FWD car I'd put the snows on front. Then again, I don't drive FWD cars, so it's the point is moot.

Ulf
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This car has no reason to be on the road with other drivers until it has all four tires studded.. If in question, this driver/owner should check with their respective Highway Patrol.
Posting a question like this is like - Hey! can I take a chance on your life by being too cheap?
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Just bite the bullet and get four winter tires. If it prevents just one fender bender accident, the cost will have been covered.
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The best tires should ALWAYS be put on the rear, no matter if the car is RWD, FWD or AWD.
The theory is that you need to have the best grip during braking in the rear to reduce the risk of having the rear wheels lock up and spin the car around.
It is illegal in some countries (sweden comes to mind) to mix studded and unstudded tires on a vehicle. In sweden you must have the same type of tires (studded/unstudded) on both car and trailer if you're pulling a trailer.
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Thomas Tornblom wrote:

Bovine excrement. The better tires should only be put on the rear IF the car is prone to oversteer.
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Which covers any car that locks up its rears before the fronts...
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If you put crappy tires on the rears then you can be assured that they'll lock up first.
Why not just go with all four snow tires? Doesn't cost much more in the long run.
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Thomas Tornblom wrote:

No. A car that normally understeers can still lock its rears first if there's a problem in the brake proportioning system. Oversteer and rear wheel lockup are different and un-related issues. If the rear wheels lock first, its not going to matter HOW good the tires on the back are, short of hot racing slicks with the consistency of chewing gum.
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