What is Tire Rotation?- How to Rotate and Why

Tire rotation, which is routinely repositioning your vehicle’s tires in specific patterns from front to back or side to side, is an important element of tire upkeep and safety. Additionally, rotating your tires may also be required to keep your tires covered under warranty.

What Is Tire Rotation?

Tire rotation means periodically changing the position of each of the tires on your vehicle. You should rotate your tires as recommended by the vehicle manufacturer, or every 5,000 miles. For many of you, that will mean when you get your vehicle’s oil changed.

During rotation, each tire and wheel is removed from your vehicle and moved to a different position to ensure that all tires wear evenly and last longer. Tires should be rotated every six months or 6,000 to 8,000 miles.

Regularly rotating your tires also gives you a good opportunity to visually inspect them for damage, check their air pressure, have them rebalanced if you’re noticing any vibration, and check their tread depth.

Why Is Tire Rotation Important?

There are several reasons why tire rotation is an important element of your standard tire care. First, by routinely rotating your tires, wear is spread evenly across all four tires, and their tread life is maximized.

That’s because each specific position on your vehicle requires a different give from each tire (for example, tires on the front of a front-wheel-drive vehicle will take a larger proportion of the torque and friction that’s needed for turning, accelerating, and braking) and can lead to more, or less, wear on the tire.

It is especially important to rotate new tires by 5,000 miles because deep, fresh tire tread is more susceptible to uneven wear.

Secondly, even treadwear keeps the tread depth on your tires uniform, which can help keep traction and handling consistent across all four tires. This will improve cornering and braking performance and keep your vehicle safer for driving overall.

Finally, if your vehicle has all-wheel-drive, evenly worn tires lower the stresses on the drivetrain, reducing wear on expensive drive components.

What Tire Rotation Pattern Should I Utilize?

The tire rotation pattern that’s best for your vehicle will depend on the type of tire you’re using, whether your vehicle is front, rear, all, or four-wheel drive, whether your tires are directional or non-directional.

Whether or not your tires are the same size on the front and rear of your vehicle, and whether you have a full-size spare that can be rotated through as well, unlike a temporary spare.

Let’s take a look at tire rotation patterns recommended by the standardizing body of the tire industry, The Tire and Rim Association, Inc., for all of these possibilities.

Tire Rotation Pattern:

Tire Rotation Pattern

For Tires That Are Of Uniform Size And Non-Directional:

1. Rearward Cross

For vehicles that are 4-wheel, all-wheel, or rear-wheel drive, the rearward cross pattern is recommended. Rear tires are moved to the forward axle and kept on the same side of the vehicle while the front tires are moved to opposite sides of the rear axle.

2. X-Pattern

Recommended for front-wheel drive vehicles such as light-weight trucks and sedans, all tires are moved diagonally, meaning tires are switched from one axle to the opposite as well as being repositioned from one side to the other.

3. Forward Cross

This is the most common pattern for front-wheel drive vehicles. The front axle tires are moved directly back while the rear tires are moved up diagonally to the opposite side of the front axle.

For Tires That Are Of Uniform Size And Non-Directional With A Full-Size Spare Tire:

In order to ensure that all of the tires on your vehicle have even tread wear, you’ll want to be sure to rotate your full-size spare tire along with the other four. This is especially vital for all-wheel or 4-wheel drive vehicles where even small differences can put undue strain on your car’s drive train.

1. Rearward Cross (Rear-Wheel Or 4-Wheel Drive Vehicles):

Both rear axle tires move directly forward to the front axle while the spare tire moves to the right side of the rear axle. The right front tire moves diagonally back to the left side of the rear axle while the left front tire becomes your new spare tire.

2. Forward Cross (Front-Wheel Drive Vehicles):

Rear tires are moved diagonally to opposite sides on the front axle while the right front tire becomes the new spare tire. The spare tire is positioned on the right side of the rear axle while the left tire on the front axle is moved directly back into the left rear position.

For High Performance And Directional Tires:

Tire Rotation Pattern:

Tire Rotation Pattern

1. Side-To-Side (For Differently-Sized Performance Tires On The Front And Rear Axles)

All tires are switched with their same-sized partner and remain on the same axle. The two rear tires switch to the opposite side with one another while the two front tires do the same.

2. Front-To-Back (For Directional Tires)

All tires are moved from one axle to the other but remain on the same side of the vehicle. For example, the front left tire is moved to the left side of the rear axle while the rear left tire is repositioned on the left side of the front axle.

FAQs.

What Is Tire Rotation?

Tire rotation means periodically changing the position of each of the tires on your vehicle. You should rotate your tires as recommended by the vehicle manufacturer, or every 5,000 miles. For many of you, that will mean when you get your vehicle’s oil changed.

Is tire rotation really necessary?

Tire rotation is necessary if you want your tires to last as long as possible. Rotating tires equalizes the wear that tires receive. If you opt not to rotate your tires, that’s fine, but you’ll likely end up buying more tires in the long run. And tires are expensive.

How frequently should tires be rotated?

During rotation, each tire and wheel is removed from your vehicle and moved to a different position to ensure that all tires wear evenly and last longer. Tires should be rotated every six months or 6,000 to 8,000 miles.

Which way do you rotate tires?

Just remember, “cross to drive”. Directional treads are designed to perform in the direction denoted on the tire sidewall only. They must always be rotated front to rear no matter the vehicle they are installed on so the direction of the rotation does not change.

Is it bad to rotate tires?

Rotating your tires evens out the wear and makes them last longer. Proper rotation not only helps even out wear and extends the life of your tires; it provides the perfect opportunity to make certain all four wheels are in good working order.

What happens if you never rotate tires?

Without regular rotations, tire treads can wear down unevenly to create a rough and potentially unstable driving surface. In the end, this type of tire tread wear may decrease your safety on the road – think heat buildup, hydroplaning, poor traction in snow and ice, and an increased risk of punctures and blowouts.

Should tires be rotated every 5000 miles?

Automotive experts recommend you rotate your tires every 5,000 to 7,500 miles. While this is a good rule of thumb, your vehicle’s exact interval will depend on its drivetrain and your driving habits.

Does tire rotation affect wheel alignment?

The direct answer is NO, not in any way. Tire rotation and wheel alignment are two different things, and the former does not cause issues to the latter. Tire experts and manufacturers recommend that car owners rotate their tires regularly to ensure even tread wear.

Do you need alignment every time you rotate tires?

No, you don’t. This is because rotating vehicle tires do not in any way tamper with the alignment of the wheels. If for anything, a tire rotation will only balance the vehicle more, as well as give it more stability and improved traction.

How long should tires last?

On average, people drive between 12,000 to 15,000 miles a year, which means the average good quality all-season tire will last somewhere between three and five years, depending on maintenance, driving style, conditions, etc.

How do I know if I have directional tires?

To tell if tires are directional, simply examine the outside sidewall. You should see an arrow indicating the direction that the treads face and either the word “Direction” or “Rotation.”

What happens if you put a directional tire on the wrong way?

No, you cannot change the rotation of a directional tire. A unidirectional tire has been designed to optimize its wet grip going in one direction. If you reverse the rotation, the wet grip will suffer, braking distances will increase and you will lose the cornering grip.

Should best tires be on front or back?

According to Tire Review, new tires should always go in the back. Rear tires provide the vehicle stability, and if they have little tread, then stability is lost.

Can I rotate my tires every 10000 miles?

Most manufacturers typically recommend rotating your tires every 5,000-10,000 miles, or at the same time as your regularly scheduled oil changes. Maybe it is time for your tires to be replaced instead of simply rotated. To check, try the easy Penny Test to measure the depth of your tire tread.

How do you rotate tires at home?

How much longer will tires last if rotated?

A 60,000-mile (96,561-kilometer) tire run without rotation may last, say, 50,000 miles (80,467 kilometers). But with rotation, there is a good chance that the same tire could reach 60,000 miles (96,561 kilometers), given the right conditions.

What comes first tire rotation or alignment?

You don’t have to balance your tires before an alignment, it is completely up to you. They are 2 separate services aiming at different things. Tire balancing is done to restore tire balance due to uneven wear etc. While tire alignment is done to adjust the angle of your car’s wheels to the “proper” position.

Can rotating tires throw off balance?

Rotating the tires doesn’t affect the balance, because you’re just moving the tires–rims and all–from one place on the car to another.

What is the difference between tire rotation and alignment?

While a tire rotation will save you money in the long run by increasing fuel efficiency and decreasing wear of your tires, a wheel alignment is 100% necessary if you need one and can cause severe damage to your car if you don’t get it fixed as soon as possible.

Why do new car tires wear out so fast?

The tire manufacturer bears that responsibility. The OEM tires that came with your car can’t be replaced (which is a good thing) after they’ve worn out. And they will wear out much sooner than they should. This is because virtually all auto manufacturers specify very soft rubber which means they wear out too fast.

Are 5-year-old tires safe?

Old tires are dangerous, regardless of tread depth. While there’s no federally sanctioned safety guidance on when a tire is too old to be safe, many carmakers recommend replacement at six years from the date of manufacture. Old tires have been the culprit in fatal accidents.

How do I know when my tires expire?

When buying new tires, ask for the newest tires available, and look at the tire’s manufacture date. The manufacture date is a Department of Transportation (DOT) code of 10 or 11 characters embossed on the inside of the tire. For new tires, the code is always 11 characters.

Can directional tires rotate?

Once mounted on the wheel correctly, they can be installed facing any direction on the vehicle. Since directional tires are manufactured to be facing one direction only, they can’t be rotated like symmetrical or asymmetrical tires.

What’s the difference between directional and nondirectional tires?

Directional tires are characterized by having a “directional” tread design, that is, a tread pattern designed to perform its best when rotating in one specific direction. Non-directional tires have a tread pattern that is designed to perform equally well regardless of the tires’ rotational direction.

What happens if a tire is installed backwards?

The tires are also strengthened according to directional usage. When you put the tire in a backward direction, you risk compromising the tire’s durability by abusing it in the backward direction. The knobs are at a higher risk of getting damaged when used in a direction they weren’t meant to be used in.

How do you rotate directional tires on a front wheel drive car?

Directional tires are designed and constructed so that they always rotate in the same direction due to their tread pattern. If your tires are directional, they should only be rotated from front to back (or vice-versa) on the same side of the vehicle.