Tires are a crucial component of a car. Just like you need your engine to start the car, the tire is what connects the car to the ground and takes you wherever you’re going. Tires are also quite expensive and not something you would want to buy every now and then.
This means they have to be in good condition and ensure they serve you for long. One way to get the best out of such investment is by engaging in regular tire rotations.
So what is tire rotation, and how often should you rotate your tires?
What is tire rotation?
Tire rotation is the practice of flipping the sides of a tire periodically.
In other words, it means moving tires from one position to another to even out tire wear. When tires wear evenly, tire life is extended and therefore you don’t need to replace tires as often as you otherwise would need to.
How often should you rotate your tires?
How often you rotate your tires depends on the drivetrain you’re using, your driving habits, and road conditions you mostly drive on.
The tires on all-wheel-drive, front-wheel drive and rear-wheel drive cars wear at different rates since a particular wheel works more than others.
In a front-wheel-drive car, for example, engine power is transmitted to the two front wheels, which bear most of the weight and do all the work on acceleration. This means the front wheels will wear faster.
This is also the case with rear-wheel-drive cars, which send power to the rear wheels.
Rotating your tires share the burden among the working tires and allows them to wear out evenly.
Experts, most times, recommend that you rotate tires every 5k-7k miles or during every oil change. If your car doesn’t necessarily require a frequent oil change, then stick to the former.
Better still, stick to your vehicle’s owner’s manual recommended time to rotate your tires.
It is important to note that tire rotation on AWD, FWD, or RWD cars is carried out at different paces. Activities like off-roading, racing events, and driving through difficult road conditions may require you to carry out more frequent tire rotations.
When to rotate tires on FWD and RWD vehicles
Vehicles with AWD, FWD, and RWD systems often wear at different paces. The front tires of FWD cars will usually wear out quicker than the back tires; the same applies to an RWD car since most engine power goes to the rear wheels. It is therefore recommended to rotate tires for FWD and RWD cars every 5k to 7k miles
When to carry out AWD Tire Rotation
On the other hand, an AWD car wears slightly differently since all four wheels do not necessarily need to work simultaneously. Sometimes the front wheel works, sometimes the back wheels work depending on the terrain and drive mode selected.
Therefore the wheels that do much of the work tend to wear faster. Because of this, experts often recommend rotating tires on. AWD vehicles every 3000 to 5000 miles.
However, while the above tire rotation tips might help, check your owner’s manual on the best time to rotate your tires for your specific car. This is important because tires in an AWD car often wear differently and at different speeds.
Why is it important to rotate tires or keep
Frequent tire rotations help your tires wear out evenly, which results in many positives, such as
- Extending tire life which saves you money
- Keep up the tire at it’s optimal performance level
- Improved traction and grip on slippery roads
- Minimizes road noise
- Decreases the stress on your vehicles drivetrain
- Provide better gas mileage and handling
Additionally, ensuring tire rotation is part of your routine maintenance prepares you for inclement weather and difficult terrains. Without proper rotation, tires will not only wear faster but reduce performance.
Things to note while rotating tires
While rotating your wheels, make sure you examine the tire’s condition. You do not have to wait until you get a flat before realizing they are due for a change. Check the inside and outside of the tires from damage caused by portholes. Check for
- Uneven wear
- Tire cupping
- Blisters on sidewall
- The condition of your wheel rims; it’s possible that impacts from portholes may have damaged them.
How do I rotate my tires?
The tire industry association notes that most of today’s vehicles follow three tire rotation patterns, provided the rear and front wheels are of the same sizes and are not rotated in only one direction. The three rotation patterns include tire rotations for AWD, FWD, and RWD vehicles.
Please note that some tires are directional – meaning that you can’t change the direction the tire is rotating to. In these cases you need to have two of the four tires removed from the wheels & reinstalled the other way around.
You can find out if tires are directional by looking at the tire’s sidewall.
Rotation pattern for cars that run on front tires (FWD)
Switch the front tires in a straight direction to the rear tires; that is, the front tires should be on the same side when taken to the rear. Next, move the rear tires to front tires in the opposite direction. (For example, the rear left tire moves to the right front).
Rotation pattern for cars that depends on rear tires (RWD)
Here, you only need to flip sides, that is, move the rear tires to the front on the same side. Then move the front tires to the opposite rear, i.e., the front left tire moves to the position of the right rear tires and vice versa.
AWD tire rotation pattern
Crisscrossing all four tires is the simple way to carry out tire rotation on an AWD. Here, you swap the front right tires with the rear left tires and the front left tire with the rear right tires.
There is often a misconception that all-wheel-drive vehicles do not necessarily need tire rotation, noting that the tire automatically wears evenly.
This is not true; you’re driving an all-wheel-drive vehicle doesn’t mean your tires do not need to be rotated.
This is because, most times, the vehicle does not drive all four wheels at all times. Sometimes, power is shifted to the front or rear wheels, depending on the amount of traction needed in a terrain and the drive mode selected.
Differences in the weight put on the rear or front wheels make the tire wear at a different pace. And as such, regular tire rotations come in handy to ensure all wheels keep up with performance and last longer.
Rotating tires in vehicles with different tire sizes
Tires with different sizes in the rear and front, including those built to be rotated in one direction, need extra attention. Most times, these time of set up ate in high-performance vehicles, and therefore, tires must be rotated accordingly.
In most cases, these types of tires cannot be rotated unless they are removed and there placed on the wheels on the opposite sides. Such tire rotations require professionals. However, if needed, these types of tires are not worth rotating (time, money, etc.). The best solution is usually to get a set of new tires.
Where to get tires rotated?
Yes, you can rotate your tires yourself. If you aren’t sure about the correct process to rotate your tires, consult your owner’s manual. You may also inquire from experts and dealerships or visit those advanced automotive dealer websites on how to carry out tire rotations.
However, If you can’t take out time or don’t want to get dirty doing this task, visit any tire shop near you to get your tires rotated by certified technicians. You can also search online for the best shops near you to rotate tires at an affordable price.
Aside from rotating the tires, they also check for tire irregularities tire pressure and align if needed. And if your tires are due to be replaced, they will inform you and even suggest the best car tires for you.
Do you need to align your wheel after a tire rotation?
Whether or not you need wheel alignment depends on what happens after rotating your tires. If your steering is leveled and your car drives straight before rotation, then your car suddenly pulls to one side or no longer drives straight afterward, then you may need a wheel alignment.
Chances are, your wheels may have hit a pothole and damaged the rims. That is why it is advisable to check inside and outside the tires when rotating the tires or, better still, check the wheel’s rims.
While rotating your tires is important, doing it properly is more crucial. Know that when it comes to how many miles to rotate tires, the drivetrain you are operating on is an important factor that must be considered.
The standard of an all-wheel-drive vehicle and that of front-wheel drive or rear-wheel drive are different. However, the general time is within 5-7k miles.
Is it Ok to rotate tires every 10,000 miles?
Yes, it is Ok to rotate tires every 10,000 miles. Even if the rule of thumb is rotating tires every 5-7k miles, some vehicles whose manufacturers require doing it every 5-10k miles. And sometimes during every oil change.
Do you really need to rotate your tires?
Tire rotation is important. It ensures your wear at the same rate, which helps your tire last longer. It also ensures your tires are in good working condition, improves traction on even slippery roads, and gives better gas mileage.
Can you rotate your tires too often?
You can rotate your tires too often, but that depends on your driving habit. If you engage in frequent off-roading, race events, or regularly drive in unfavorable road conditions, you may need to rotate your tires more than usual.
If you, however, drive under normal conditions, then you should stick to the general period to rotate tires. Some even suggest rotating tires every six months if you put in more than 7500 miles yearly.
Better still, go by your manufacturer’s recommendation found in your owner’s manual.
While rotating tires too often doesn’t harm the tires, it’s unnecessary work which may not have any benefits.
How much longer will tires last if rotated?
According to users’ reviews across review platforms, there are chances that your tires will last 10,000 miles longer if regularly rotated. However, this depends on the kind of car, the tire quality, and how properly they are rotated. The road surface and your driving habits also contribute.