What is a Tire Rotation?
Why is Tire Rotation so Important?
It starts by understanding why it’s so important.
Tires wear as you drive. Depending on several factors, they may wear at different rates, and in different patterns. It could be a quirk of your vehicle, it could be how you drive, it could be the roads you drive on a regular basis. Over time, this could lead to uneven tread wear of your tires.
Uneven tread wear leads to reduced tire mileage and can also lend itself to poor performance. A tire that wears down quickly will require replacement, and once you replace one, you’ll need to replace more than one – replacing just a single tire can make things even worse! Failing to rotate tires regularly can knock thousands of miles off your set. Making it worse, those worn tires can cause a headache on the road, leading to poor handling and braking, and an all-around unpleasant driving experience.
When Should I Rotate My Tires?
Pretty much every time you get your vehicle serviced, you should rotate your tires and get them balanced. By sticking to a common schedule, you have a constant reminder that your tires should be rotated. Much of the time, it will be included as part of your regular service plan. For best results, you should rotate them every 5,000-7,000 miles.
How do I Rotate My Car’s Tires?
How you rotate your vehicle’s tires depends quite a bit on the vehicles and the tires that are mounted.
The first consideration is if you have performance tires or standard tires. Certain performance tires can only be rotated a specific way. If you have directional tires, they have to be rotated front-to-rear, with right side tires staying on the right side and left side tires staying on the left. If you have different-sized performance tires – for instance, 18-inch wheels up front and 19-inch wheels in the rear – you should only rotate them across the axle from side to side, and not from front to rear.
Standard tires will be rotated depending on whether your vehicle is front-wheel drive, or rear-/four-wheel drive. Front-wheel drive vehicles get the Forward Cross rotation, with the rear tires moving diagonally to the front (left rear to right front, right rear to left front) and the front tires moving backwards but staying on the same sides. You can also opt for the X-Pattern, where all tires move diagonally. For rear-wheel and four-wheel drive, you’ll do the inverse, the Rearward Cross. In this case, the front tires move back and cross to different sides, while the rear wheels move forward while staying on the same side.
Finally, if you have a full-sized spare – not a compact or donut – you should incorporate this tire into the rotation as well. If you have a front-wheel drive car, the spare should be rotated to the right rear, while the right rear goes to the front left and the left rear goes to the front right. The front right then becomes the spare, while the front left moves to the rear left position. On a rear- or four-wheel drive car, the spare moves to the same spot. However, the right rear moves to the front right, the front right to the left rear, and the left rear to the front left, with the front left becoming the new spare.
Should I Rotate My Tires Myself?
For the most part, tire rotation is included in regular vehicle service plans. If you’re taking your vehicle into the original dealership for oil changes and services every 5,000 miles, they should be offering to rotate your tires. If you haven’t confirmed this already, make sure you ask at your next service!
Of course, if you want to do them at home, it’s not difficult. You’ll just need an extra jack or, preferably, four jack stands to lift your vehicle safely off the ground, on an even surface. Then it’s just simply removing the tires, moving them to their new positions, and putting them back on. But honestly? It’s faster, easier, and safer to have your service center do it for you.