(Updated on June 8, 2020)
Your tires have a very important job for your vehicle. Not only do they keep your vehicle moving safely on the road, but they also make it possible for you to brake as well. Safe tires typically have very defined treads with deep grooves in them. The purpose of treads is to provide your tires with better traction on the road. If you have tires in good condition with the proper amount of air pressure in them, your driving experience should be completely smooth.
Of course, tires are only made of rubber so you cannot expect them to last forever. As you regularly drive and brake with your vehicle, the tire treads sustain the most wear. After a couple of years, the tire treads on your vehicle will start to get uneven or flat. This will lead to lots of issues in your driving. You may notice the vehicle pulling more to the left or right side. There will usually be a lot of jerkiness in the cabin and your steering wheel will be harder to control.
To get the most life out of your tires, it is recommended that you rotate and balance them periodically. The purpose of rotating your tires is to even out the tread on each tire. For instance, the two front tires of a front-wheel drive vehicle will incur the most wear on its treads. Since the two rear tires will likely have better treads, you would rotate the two rear tires with the two front tires. This will even out the wear on the treads and make it easier to drive your vehicle.
As for tire balancing, this is another way to ensure the treads wear evenly. The auto shop has a balancing machine which ensures the mass distribution of each tire is even before they install the tire onto the wheel. If you don’t have balanced tires, your treads will wear down faster.
Rotation and Balancing Frequency
The average auto mechanic recommends that you rotate your tires every 5,000 miles, although some mechanics say to do it every 3,000 miles. It is about the same frequency as changing the oil in your engine. The average mechanic or service provider will charge $20 to $40 for a tire rotation job.
For this reason, most people have their tires rotated at the same time they have their oil changed. If you’ve got a regular relationship with your auto service provider, they will keep track of when you got your last tire rotation. If they feel it is time for you to get a tire rotation done, they will recommend it to you during your oil change visit. Some people think that’s just their way of trying to make more money off their customers. However, tire rotations are essential for sustaining the lifespan of your tires. That is why you should keep track of the mileage yourself so that you know when it is time to get another tire rotation done.
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Tire balancing is no exception to this. Most mechanics will recommend you get tire balancing every 3,000 to 6,000 miles. But if you experience steering wheel vibrations or jerkiness, then you either need tire balancing immediately or one or more new tires. If it’s just balance that you need done, you should get it done at the same time as your tire rotation and oil change. You’ll actually save money on the labor costs this way because it is easy for the service people to handle all these jobs consecutively. If you were to get these services done on separate days, it would cost you more money in the end.