When a vehicle’s tires are rotated, they are moved from their current position to another. The purpose of rotating a vehicle’s tires is to achieve more uniform tire wear for all of the tires on a vehicle.
Tire rotation is recommended at regular intervals, in accordance with the owner’s manual. The most common interval is 5,000 miles (8,000 km).
The simplest and most common tire rotation patterns used today are the forward cross and the rearward cross patterns. These two are often recommended for vehicles that are front-wheel drive or a combination of front-wheel drive and four-wheel drive.
For vehicles that are 4-wheel, all-wheel, or rear-wheel drive, the rearward cross pattern is recommended.
How to rotate tires
Things to check before rotating tires-
You can check your tire tread depth using a penny. With the penny’s head upside down, insert it into the lowest tread groove. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, your tires need to be replaced soon because they are at 2/32nds of an inch remaining tread depth or less.
You can also look for signs of uneven wear on your tires, which indicate poor wheel alignment. Uneven wear on both sides of a tire indicates toe misalignment, and if only one side is worn, then it could be due to camber misalignment.
Check your owner’s manual for suggested rotation intervals. Typically front-wheel drive vehicles should be rotated every 7,500 miles, and rear-wheel drive vehicles every 5,000 miles.
However, some manufacturers may require more frequent rotations, so it is important to check with your vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations first.
How to rotate tires: step by step
Follow these steps:
- Lift and support the vehicle.
- Remove the wheel covers or center caps, if applicable.
- Loosen all lug nuts while the tire is still on the ground. This will make it easier to turn the tire when you jack up the car later. Don’t remove them yet!
- Jack up the vehicle and place it on jack stands, according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
- Remove all lug nuts and then remove the wheel from the vehicle.
- Place the wheel under the vehicle to catch any parts that may fall off during disassembly.
- Remove the valve stem cap and deflate the tire using a pencil-type tire pressure gauge to relieve any residual pressure in the tire. Using a tire pressure gauge is a good practice to ensure you don’t overinflate your tires and cause damage to your rims or tires from excessive pressure buildup inside your tires during mounting and inflating procedures. It can occur with some impact wrenches. Even though you deflate your tires, always use caution when working around compressed air lines or pneumatic tools!
- Remove stem core by inserting a large screwdriver into the stem opening.
- Switch the position of the right front tire with the left rear tire.
- Replace all four tires on the vehicle and lower them to the ground using the jack.
- Install new lug nuts by hand and then tighten them using a tire iron in a star pattern until they are snug against the wheel.
Which tire rotation pattern is best?
There are several different tire rotation patterns that can be used, depending on whether your vehicle is front- or rear-wheel drive. If you have an all-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive car, it’s not necessary to rotate the tires, as all four wheels receive power.
Most passenger tires should be rotated every 5,000 to 7,500 miles. It’s important to check your vehicle owner’s manual for the recommended interval for tire rotation. If the tires show uneven wear, they may need to be rotated more frequently. Rotating tires more often can help them wear more evenly and last longer.
The two options for tire rotation are front-to-back or side-to-side. The type of drivetrain your vehicle has determined the correct tire rotation pattern:
Front-wheel drive (FWD) vehicles should have their tires rotated from front to back. The vehicle’s alternator, engine, and transmission are heavier than the rear axle, causing the front tires to wear out faster.
You can use a front-to-back rotation pattern on rear-wheel drive (RWD) vehicles, but it’s not necessary because the front and rear tires wear at about the same rate.
Four-wheel drive (4WD) or all-wheel drive (AWD) vehicles should have their tires rotated from left to right side only. That’s because a 4WD or AWD vehicle places more torque on its left side than its right side, which causes uneven tire wear.
What are the benefits of rotating tires regularly?
Tire rotation is an essential part of tire maintenance. It is the process of moving tires from one position on a vehicle to another to ensure even tire wear. The proper tire rotation pattern for your vehicle may be different for vehicles with different wheel and axle configurations.
The most common method of tire rotation is the forward cross method, which moves the front tires to the rear axle and rear tires to the front (the rear axle on the driver’s side moves to the front passenger side and vice versa).
The benefits of regular tire rotation include:
- Better gas mileage – Uneven tread wear can reduce gas mileage by up to 10 percent. Maintaining even tread wear through regular tire rotations increases gas mileage and saves money.
- Longer tread life – Rotating tires at recommended intervals enables them to wear more evenly, maximizing their lifespans.
- Better performance – Uneven tread wear can affect vehicle handling and braking response times, which are key considerations in improving safety on the roadways. Regularly rotating tires help maintain your car’s performance capabilities.
Can you do tire rotation yourself?
There are three main patterns that can be used when rotating tires.
The first is a front-to-rear tire rotation. This is the most common tire rotation pattern, and it’s used by many passenger vehicles, SUVs, and minivans. The procedure involves taking the front tires and moving them to the rear axle while taking the rear tires and moving them to the front axle.
The second pattern is a side-to-side tire rotation. This type of tire rotation is generally only used on vehicles that are equipped with directional tires. Directional tires have a tread pattern that is designed to move water away from the vehicle as it moves forward.
Directional tires will also have an arrow on their sidewall that indicates which way they should rotate for maximum performance.
The third type of tire rotation pattern is a cross rotation. This type of rotation involves taking a right-front tire and moving it to the left rear position while taking the left rear tire and moving it to the right front position.
It should be noted that this type of rotation can only be performed on vehicles that are equipped with non-directional tires. Otherwise, you risk damaging your tires by rotating them incorrectly.
If you know these three methods, then you know how to rotate the tires by yourself!
How do you rotate AWD tires?
There are three standard ways to rotate tires:
Rearward Cross: This method is for front-wheel drive vehicles. The rear tires move forward, and the front tires move to the rear but on the opposite sides of the vehicle. The left rear tire moves to the right front position, and the right rear tire moves to the left front position. Front tires go to the back on their own side.
Frontward Cross: This method is for rear-wheel-drive vehicles. The front tires move to the back, and the back tires move to the front but on opposite sides of the vehicle. The left front tire moves to the right rear position, and the right front tire moves to the left rear position.
X-Pattern: This method is used with vehicles that have all-wheel drive (AWD) or four-wheel drive (4WD). The diagonal tire positions — left front and right rear; right front and left rear — swap positions.
The tires on the front of your vehicle tend to wear more quickly than the rear tires. The reason for this is simple: The front tires handle most of the steering, as well as most of the braking.
If you own a rear-wheel-drive vehicle, most of the power comes from the back wheels, which means they may wear out sooner than the front tires.
The following information is intended to help you get the most out of your tire investment by assisting you in understanding how to rotate tires, when to rotate them, and why it’s important. This can increase your tire life and save you money.
All-wheel drive (AWD) vehicles are usually equipped with unidirectional tires that cannot be rotated from side-to-side.
However, if you have a full-time four-wheel-drive vehicle with non-directional tires, your rotation options are much greater than those with AWD systems. Typically, such vehicles use “P” metric or LT tires that are not labeled for directional rotation.
Do tires need to be balanced when rotated?
The simple answer is that no, you do not need to balance tires when rotating them. If a tire was balanced properly in the first place, then it should remain balanced for the life of the tire. However, there are some circumstances where the tires may need to be rebalanced after being rotated.
If you notice vibration or shaking when driving your car, then you will probably need to have your tires rebalanced.
This can happen after rotations if a wheel weight has fallen off or if one of the wheels was not balanced correctly in the first place. The best way to check this is by using a wheel balancer at your local mechanic shop.
How do you rotate the front tires on a car?
To rotate front tires, start by jacking the car up and removing the wheel lug nuts with a lug nut wrench. Next, pull the wheel off and place it next to the wheel that’s on the opposite side of the car.
Then, take the first wheel off the other side and swap it with the opposite wheel. Finally, put your wheel back on using a torque wrench and lower your car to the ground.
It is typically not recommended to rotate tires with different sized tires due to possible handling complications.
The difference between front and rear axle tire rotation refers to which axles are moved when rotating tires.
Can you rotate tires with different sized tires?
The answer to this question is “it depends!” There are a few factors that come into play when it comes to tire rotation: vehicle type, tire size, and treadwear.
Tire rotation differs from car to car, but generally, front tires need to be rotated to the rear and vice versa. The reason for this is that tires wear differently based on their location on the vehicle. Front tires tend to wear more quickly than rear tires, so rotating them helps keep even wear across all four tires.
For vehicles with unidirectional tires (tires that can only go in one direction), they don’t need to be rotated from front to back. They just need to be switched side-to-side from the passenger side of the vehicle to the driver’s side.
Some vehicles with staggered fitments (different sized tires front and back) cannot have their tires rotated at all because it can cause issues with clearance and traction control systems.
It’s best to check your owner’s manual or consult an automotive professional before rotating your tires if you aren’t sure about how your vehicle should be rotated.
What is the difference between front and rear axle tire rotation?
There are a few things you need to know before you rotate your tires. First, it’s important that you know what kind of tires your car has. Your owner’s manual will tell you this, but as a rule of thumb, most cars have front and rear tires that are the same size. However, some cars have larger tires in the rear than in the front.
If your car has different sized tires on the front and back axle, you should not rotate them the same way as a car with an equal size tire. If you do this, then the smaller sized tire will be paired with the larger sized tire, which can cause problems.
If your car has the same size tires on the front and back axle, then there are three types of rotation patterns: forward cross, rearward cross, and side-to-side rotation.
Forward Cross: The front left tire is placed on the back right wheel, and so on. This is most commonly used for front-wheel-drive cars with non-directional (i.e., symmetrical) tires.
Rearward Cross: The rear left tire is placed on the front right wheel, and so on. This is most commonly used for rear-wheel-drive cars with non-directional (i.e., symmetrical) tires.
X Pattern: With this method, you switch the left and right front tires and do the same with the back ones as well. You can use this pattern if your car has directional (asymmetrical) tires or if you have a four-wheel-drive vehicle that needs its tires often rotated — like a pickup truck or Jeep® vehicle.
Frequently Asked questions
1. Does tire rotation pattern matter?
The tire rotation pattern depends on how many tires you have and how they are arranged around your vehicle. For example, if you have front-wheel drive and four tires (two in front, two in back), you’ll want to rotate the tires side to side from front to back.
If you have all-wheel drive, you may need a more complicated pattern such as front to back and then moving the rear tires to a cross pattern.
2. Is it OK to rotate tires side to side?
You should rotate your tires side to side and front to back. The most common rotation pattern is front to back, which is when the front tires move to the rear axle, and the rear tires move forward.
If you rotate in a back-to-front pattern, you should also switch sides of the vehicle so that the left tires are on the right side and vice versa.
3. How can I tell if my tires need rotating?
A visual inspection of your tires can tell you if they need rotating. Look at the tread depth of each tire and compare it to other tires on the same axle of your car or truck. The tread depth should be nearly identical on all four tires. If not, consider rotating them.
If you notice uneven wear on one tire, it could indicate an alignment problem with your suspension system and should be looked at by a professional mechanic.
4. How often should I have my tires rotated?
The frequency of rotation varies by vehicle and driving conditions. Make sure you check your owner’s manual for the recommended interval. A good rule of thumb is to rotate your tires every 6,000 miles (10,000 km) or every six months — whichever comes first.
For vehicles that are 4-wheel, all-wheel, or rear-wheel drive, the rearward cross pattern is recommended. Rear tires are moved to the forward axle and kept on the same side of the vehicle, while the front tires are moved to opposite sides of the rear axle.
For vehicles that are front-wheel drive, a simple lateral rotation is recommended. Front tires are moved to opposite sides of the vehicle. The rear tires stay in place.
It’s important to know how your car is designed and which type of tire rotation pattern is recommended for your vehicle.