Tires are the most important parts of your vehicle. They are the only components that touch the ground. Tires control how fast you can take a corner, how far you slide or hydroplane in inclement weather, and how quickly you can stop when you slam on the brakes.
Rotating the tires is an important part of regular vehicle maintenance. Some vehicle types require more frequent tire rotations than others. Here’s everything you need to know about tire rotations.
What is Tire Rotation?
Tire rotation is the process of moving your wheels and tires from one corner of the vehicle to another. For instance, the right front tire is moved to the left rear.
The proper way to rotate your tires depends on the type of tire your vehicle is equipped with.
If you have non-unidirectional tires, they can be moved to any corner of the vehicle. The standard procedure is to move the front tires to the rear (on the same side of the vehicle). The rears move to the fronts on the opposite side of the vehicle.
Unidirectional tires can only be rotated front to back. This means the right front tire is moved to the right rear, and the right rear is moved to the right front corner.
Don’t forget about your spare. If your vehicle is equipped with a full size spare, you may want to consider working the spare into your tire rotations.
Related: How Long Can You Drive on a Spare?
Why Rotate Your Tires?
Your vehicle puts a slightly different load on each tire, due to the balance of the vehicle and the occupants or cargo on board. Your vehicle’s alignment settings are also different front to back, and even slightly different from side to side.
Ever notice how your front brakes are bigger than the rear brakes? As you slow down, the weight of the vehicle shifts forward. This means the front tires are doing most of the work to slow you down.
Most vehicles also weigh more in the front because that’s where the engine sits. All of this means the front tires tend to wear a little faster than the rears on most vehicles.
See Also: 5 Causes of Inner Tire Wear
How Often Should You Rotate Tires?
Your tire rotation interval is determined by your driving habits, your alignment, and your drivetrain. AWD vehicles typically require a more frequent tire rotation interval. This is because all four tires must be the same circumference to avoid damage to the differentials.
Michelin recommends tires be rotated every six months, or 6,000 to 8,000 miles. They offer a great guideline to show you the different rotation patterns.
Goodyear has a more conservative recommendation. They suggest you rotate your tires every 3,000 to 6,000 miles if you can’t find a manufacturer-specific recommendation for your vehicle.
Tire Rack Says:
Tire Rack is one of the leading online tire retailers. They have a fantastic blog that will teach you everything you ever wanted to know about tire technology.
The recommendation on Tire Rack’s website gives comprehensive guidelines for the most common tire configurations. They recommend tires be rotated at least every 3,000 to 5,000 miles.
Les Schwab Says:
Les Schwab states that a good rule of thumb is to rotate the tires every 5,000 miles or so.
Toyota’s tire rotation recommendations can be found in the individual owner’s manual for each specific vehicle. Since Toyota makes vehicles with all drivetrain types, their recommendation may vary depending on the vehicle.
Ford has a blog where they cover common ownership questions, such as tire rotation interval. If you can’t find a specific recommendation in your owner’s manual, Ford recommends you rotate your tires every 7,000 to 10,000 miles.
Your Owner’s Manual Says:
If in doubt, check your owner’s manual. This is a great starting point, and you can follow this recommendation precisely unless you have a different type of tire than the vehicle was originally equipped with.
- 1. Accurately measures tire tread depth gauge tool, Calibrated from 0 to 1 inch in 1/32 inch
- 2. Color coded tire tread depth gauge clearly indicates the tire different phase by colors
- 3. Tire tread depth gauge tool of Red range on bar: 0-3/32; Yellow Range on bar: 3/32 - 6/32; 5....
- 4. Comes with a pocket clip, easy to carry a tire tread depth gauge
How Long Does It Take to Rotate Tires?
A shop or skilled pit crew can rotate tires in a matter of minutes. Expect to wait between 10 minutes and a half hour if there is no line when you drive up to the shop.
How Much Does Tire Rotation Cost?
Many tire shops offer free tire rotations as a courtesy for their customers. If you have to pay, you shouldn’t expect to pay more than $50.
Can I Rotate Tires Myself?
If you have access to a jack, jack stands, a torque wrench, and the knowledge to use them safely, you can easily rotate tires yourself.
Although this may take more time than a shop with access to a two post lift, you can take your time inspecting other parts of the vehicle like the brakes and suspension while the wheels are off.
From there, you can determine your own customized tire rotation strategy that is best for your specific tire and use case combination.
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