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New tires in rear only - hidden danger?

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I just had the rear tires replaced on my 2008 Escape.  It is a 4WD version.  The rear tires were all cracked around the circumference of the treads.  The salesman tried to sell me all four tires, but since the tires in the front are not cracked (and a year or two newer), I declined.  He said because it is all-wheel drive it is better to buy all four, but couldn't give me any further explanation.  


Nevertheless, now that I am home with my new rear tires I am wondering if I should have splurged and got all four.  We only put about 8000kms per year on this vehicle and no highway driving. New tires are a different brand, have same basic tread pattern and are the same size as what's on in front.

Does anyone think I'll be okay for the upcoming winter or should have bought the whole set?




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The only "better" is the spiff the salesman's trying to get. They say put the better tires on the rear, but I don't think I buy that. The front wheels do 'most all the work. They say new on the rear reduces the chance the back end might get away from you.

All that said, you folks deal with winter I can only shiver about. If the sidewalls are OK, my vote is leave it like it is.

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