When and Why You Need to Rotate Your Tires

| September 11, 2012

rotating tires at tire store Tire rotation is one of those car dealer or vehicle repair shop services that sounds like a scam but isn’t. It’s actually pretty important, and a good auto repair shop or tire specialist, like those you find in the DexKnows listings, won’t charge much to do it.

Why rotate?

With most vehicles — and especially those that are front-wheel drive — the front tires wear faster than those at the back. Swapping the front tires and back ones seems like an obvious way to postpone the day when you have to buy four new tires, but there’s more to it than that.

Each tire wears differently, depending on where it’s mounted. Individual driving style affects wear patterns, as do subtle variations in the suspension setup. Once suspension components start to wear, this becomes even more pronounced. So tire rotation evens out the wear.

Here’s another point to consider: Not many vehicles come with a full-sized spare anymore, but if yours does, it should be included in the rotation. That way you’ll get even more life from your tires.

Front and Back

There is an argument that if the front tires wear faster than the back ones, just replace the front pair when the time comes. Not so fast. Tire experts, like those at Michelin, recommend that new tires go on the back. This provides better control in wet conditions. (So the new tires go on the back, and the back tires move to the front.)

There’s another thing to look out for: A growing number of tires are either unidirectional or have asymmetric tread patterns. This means that to maximize grip, they’ve been engineered to rotate in only one direction. (Yes, you can still reverse. Just don’t try doing it for any distance.) So if you took a unidirectional tire off the left side and put it on the right, it would be rolling backward. Of course, you can still swap them front to rear, just not side to side.

Some performance cars make life even harder. When the rear wheels are wider than the fronts — the Corvette is a prime example of this — front-to-back rotation is not possible. And if your ‘vette has unidirectional rubber, you can forget about rotation altogether!

When and who?

The advice from authorities like Edmunds is to rotate tires every 5,000 to 10,000 miles. Your vehicle may have different needs, so look in the owner’s manual or check with the car dealer.

As for who should do it, tire rotation is tricky because it means having at least two wheels in the air at the same time. And who has the equipment for that? Far better to let a professional auto repair shop or dealership take care of it. They have the tools, they know the most appropriate rotation sequence for your vehicle, and since it doesn’t take them long, it’s not an expensive job.

Tire rotation is no scam, it’s something that should be performed on your vehicle periodically. Search DexKnows tires and wheels listings to find a specialist who’ll do it right.

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Category: Auto Repair, Autos

About the Author ()

After twenty years in the automobile industry the craft of wordsmith called. Putting down the wrench, Nigel picked up a keyboard on which to express his passion for all things automotive.