I suspect that most of you reading this are already aware, putting tires of dramatically differing qualities and grip on the same car is not a recipe for good handling. Just in case you’d like to see this demonstrated visually and dramatically, because why wouldn’t you, here’s a fun video that shows you, empirically, why this isn’t such a hot idea.
The video is from the Tyre Reviews YouTube channel, which, as you may have gathered, is dedicated to reviewing tyres, which appear to be rubber dinguses British people put on their car’s wheels, much in the same way we use tires.
Anyway, here’s the video, so you can see:
A number of tire combinations were tested, but the video focuses on the most exciting/terrible combination to watch: cheap-ass rear tires at the rear, good tires up front. The car is a BMW M2, a RWD performance coupe, and these tests were run on Continental’s wet surface testing track.
This is a wet handling test, on a quick RWD car, arguably the worst-case scenario for this combination. As you may have guessed, this setup turns the car into an inadvertent drift machine, fun to watch but actually dangerous if you were driving on a real wet road with real wet traffic.
Tests were done with traction control on and off, and while it helped a bit, the traction control really wasn’t enough to make this setup safe or even all that usable.
They didn’t try the cheap tires at the front and good ones at the rear; if I had to guess I’d bet you’d end up in more understeer situations, which is really no better, safety-wise.
Mixing tires like this is hardly uncommon—cash-strapped people very frequently and understandably may choose to just buy two tires for their car, and likely two tires cheaper and less capable than the original equipment tires.
If you’re in this situation, maybe do what you can to save a bit more money to spend on tires, if you can? Or, at least, be very, very careful in the wet.