How Often Is It Recommended to Rotate Your Tires?

Besides a home, a vehicle is probably the most significant investment you will ever make. While millions of Americans buy cars every year, they are often missing a critical safety factor. They don’t know how often to rotate tires. You probably know that as soon as your TPMS, or tire pressure monitoring system, light comes on, you need to put air in your tires. But do you know how often you should rotate your tires, how to do it properly and why?

Regular tire rotation is critical to extend the useful of your tires, your drivetrain and other crucial components of your car. Do you want to extend the useful life of your vehicle? If so, this article is for you. Today, we will teach you what tire rotation is, if it is necessary and how often to rotate tires to extend the useful life of your tires. Let’s dive in.

What Is Tire Rotation?

Man rotating his car's tires

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Tire rotation is the process of removing the tires and wheels from your vehicle and moving them to a different position on the vehicle so they wear evenly and last longer. If you go to an auto repair shop to get your oil changed, the service technicians will probably tell you to rotate your tires every 3,000 miles. This is because they want your regular business.

Unless you have a high-performance vehicle, it is highly unlikely you will need to rotate your tires that often. Instead of listening to salespeople, you should refer to your vehicle’s owner manual or the guidelines that come from the tire manufacturer.

There are six different methods of tire rotation depending on how many tires you have on your vehicle and whether the tires are uni-directional (the tread faces only one way). Today, we will discuss the three most common tire rotation methods.

Front-Wheel Drive Tire Rotation

If you have a front-wheel-drive vehicle, the tires on the front of the vehicle will wear far more quickly than the tires on the rear of the vehicle. This is because the front tires are responsible for transferring power to the road and steering the vehicle. To rotate the tires of a front-wheel-drive vehicle, the front tires need to be moved to the rear. This ensures that the heavily used front tires do not wear significantly faster than the rear tires due to more torque and friction being applied to the front tires.

When rotating your front-wheel drive vehicle, the rear right tire is rotated to be your new left front tire. Your rear left tire becomes the front right tire. The front left tire becomes the rear left tire and the front right tire becomes the rear right tire.

Rear-Wheel Drive

Rear-wheel-drive vehicles wear more evenly. If you have a vehicle like this, the rear tires deliver the power to the road while the front tires steer. However, this more even balance is not enough. The different functions completed by the front and rear tires create different wear patterns which makes it necessary to rotate your tires.

With rear-wheel drive, the rotation pattern is the opposite of a front-wheel drive rotation. The rear left tire becomes the front left tire. The rear right tire becomes the front right tire. The front right tire becomes the rear left tire and the front left tire is rotated to the rear right tire.

All-Wheel Drive

It is most important of all to know how often to rotate tires when you have an all-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive vehicle. In almost every case, if there is a significant difference in tread depth among tires, the drivetrain is put under enormous pressure. For ideal vehicle maintenance, make sure the tread depth variation among all your tires is never more than 2/32″. Remember, you need to rotate all four of your tires regularly with this type of vehicle because crossovers are usually in front-wheel-drive mode most often.

While the proper rotation of tires on all-wheel drive vehicles is the most important, it is also the easiest. The pattern is diagonal in all four directions. First, the front left tire and rear right tire are removed and rotated. Then, the rear left tire and front right tire are removed and rotated.

Considerations

Man rotates his car's tires at his garage to make his car healthy

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If you are thinking about rotating your tires yourself, there are several important factors you need to consider. First, are all wheels on your vehicle the same size? If the tires at the rear are larger than those at the front, you must use a side-to-side rotation rather than a front-to-rear rotation.

If your car has a tire pressure monitoring system that displays each tire’s air pressure, reset the system so it accurately displays the air pressure after the tires are rotated. There are two further points you must consider when changing tires on a vehicle with four identically sized tires. First, if you have studded winter tires, never rotate them from left to right. Second, even though it is important to know how often to rotate tires, rotation will not correct any uneven wear caused by already existing alignment, inflation or suspension problems.

Winter Tires

If your area does not experience regular periods of sub-40 degree temperatures, all-season tires will provide you with adequate grip when the temperature drops. However, if your region gets routine sub-40 temperatures, you need a dedicated set of winter tires. Half-worn winter tires provide the same grip as all-season tires.

Similarly, half-worn all-season tires provide a quarter of the grip that you would get from winter tires. This is not safe. If bridges in your area become icy every year, swap out your old all-season tires with a dedicated set of winter tires to provide you adequate traction in hazardous road conditions.

Uni-Directional Tire Rotation

If the tread of your tire faces only one way, the tires must stay on the same side of the vehicle. In other words, the left front tire is rotated with the left rear tire and the right front tire is rotated with the right rear tire.

Six-Tire Rotation

If you drive a dually truck, check the owner’s manual for how to rotate all six tires. There are two different options for dually tire rotations depending on the recommendations of the manufacturer. The standard dually rotation is to switch the front left tire with the front right tire. Then, the exterior and interior rear tires on the left side are switched with those on the right. The exterior left rear tire becomes the interior right rear tire and vice versa. Finally, the interior left rear tire becomes the exterior right rear tire and vice versa.

Alternatively, the interior rear tires are rotated to the front. The exterior rear tires are rotated to the interior position and the front tires are rotated to the rear exterior tire position.

Five-Tire Rotation

If your spare wheel and tire are the same size as your other four tires, you can put your spare tire into regular service by including the spare in your tire rotation. This will increase the useful life of all your tires by 20 to 25%. If it is time for you to replace your tires, we recommend getting five tires of the same size so you can include your spare tire in your regular service. This will save you money in the long run.

Is Tire Rotation Necessary?

Men help each other to achieve damageless for their car by rotating its tires regularly

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A common question asked along with how often to rotate tires is do I really need to rotate my tires? It is absolutely critical that you rotate your tires regularly. Most notably, regular tire rotation gives you or a professional the opportunity to inspect your tires for damage.

Inspection

Regular tire rotation is the perfect opportunity to have a professional inspect the outside and inside shoulders of your tires for damage. If you live in a rural area and drive over potholes regularly, the answer to how often to rotate tires may be as few as 3,000 to 5,000 miles if you don’t know how to inspect your tires yourself.

If you hit a pothole hard enough, you can even bend the inboard side of your rim. While this is dangerous, you may not be able to see it with an untrained eye.

Important Damage to Look for

If you are rotating your tires yourself, there are a couple types of damage you must look out for. First, tire cupping is a safety hazard that is unfortunately common in aged suspension systems which are in desperate need of repair. You can diagnose this issue by uneven wear patterns in your tire tread. If you ignore this warning sign, the ride, steering and braking capabilities of your vehicle will be impaired significantly. You will also notice that your tires wear out faster than they should.

The other common type of damage you should check for is a blistered sidewall. This is identified easily by a noticeable bulge in the sidewall. A blistered sidewall most often occurs when you hit a deep pothole too hard. If air gets into the structure of the tire, a blister forms. If this problem is not diagnosed and corrected, you could cause a serious accident if you have a flat tire or blowout.

Other Safety Factors

If your tires wear unevenly, traction and handling will be inconsistent. This can lead to you losing control of your vehicle when cornering. It can also impede your vehicle’s ability to brake. Regular tire rotation will make your vehicle much safer to drive overall.

How Often to Rotate Tires to Prolong Your Tire’s Life

man filling up tires with air

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The answer to how often to rotate tires varies depending on several factors. These include the type of vehicle you have and how new your tires are. We already discussed how the type of drivetrain your vehicle has affects how often you rotate your vehicles. If all four of your tires are new, rotate your tires after no more than 5,000 miles. When the tread of your tire is deep and fresh, the tires are far more susceptible to uneven wear.

Is This a DIY Project?

Rotating your tires can absolutely be a do-it-yourself project if you have the right tools, equipment and workspace. Remove your tires on a hard, flat, level surface. Never remove your tires in the grass. You also need a jack, jack stands, wheel chocks or cement bricks to prevent the car from rolling. Keep in mind, if you insist on rotating your tires in the grass and you are using a ramp, the ramp and chocks or brick may sink into the ground.

Besides the items mentioned above, you will need a standard set of hand tools and a torque wrench to guarantee that the lug nuts are as tight as they should be. Other than that, rotating your tires is as simple as changing a tire. You should also remember to never climb under a vehicle which is only supported by a jack.

Conclusion

We hope you enjoyed learning how often to rotate tires. To keep it simple, you should rotate your tires every 6,000 to 8,000 miles, every six months, or whatever the manufacturer of your vehicle recommends. If you drive fewer than 1,000 miles monthly, have your tires rotated semiannually. If you drive over 1,000 miles monthly, rotate your tires every 6,000 miles.

If you have four new tires on your car, rotate them after no more than 5,000 miles. The deeper the tread your tires have, the more likely the tires are to wear unevenly. If you have an all-wheel drive vehicle, this means you can damage your drivetrain.

It is important to remember how often to rotate tires because regular rotation drastically extends the useful life of your tire. While your tires are being rotated, a certified mechanic will also inspect them to make sure they are all still safe to drive on. If you rotate your own tires, make sure there is no damage to the tires, such as tire cupping or a blistered sidewall. We strongly advise against rotating your tires in the grass.

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