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Q: Replaced only 1 tire in AWD vehicle.

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We replaced only one tire in our AWD vehicle. We have been hearing a noise (almost like driving on a flat tire) for the last couple of months and were just told that we were supposed to replace all tires. It will cost us 800 to do so and to drain the gears etc. We planned on trading our car in within the next few months. Is there anything we can do to prolong having to replace all 4 tires? Maybe draining and refilling the gears? Thanks in advance.

My car has 61000 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

It is recommended on any vehicle with AWD (all-wheel-drive) to replace all four tires at the same time. The reason behind this need is due to the computer on the vehicle constantly monitoring the speed of each wheel. The computer makes corrections by applying the brakes or directing power to a particular wheel and it can sense if one or more tires rotating at a different speed. When you replace one tire, that brand new tire has a wider diameter than the other three tires. So when all four tires rotate, the tire with the bigger diameter will rotate slightly slower than the other three tires causing the computer to constantly make corrections.

If the noise you’re experiencing appeared immediately after replacing the one tire, it is likely that that they are tied together. However, I want to note that without seeing the vehicle in person and driving it myself, I cannot give an accurate diagnosis. With your Kia being only around 3 to 4 years old and having low mileage at 61k, it is unlikely for the fluid/oil in your differential, transmission, and transfer case to be bad and it likely won’t need to be replaced.

The best advice I can give to you is to have one of our ASE certified technicians come over and inspect your Kia Sorento. They will perform a test drive so they can confirm the noise in question, and then perform a thorough inspection to determine why this noise is present.

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