When you look at your life’s to-do list, there are probably some essential recurring tasks that hover close to the top: pay the mortgage, pay the utilities, fill the car up with gas, pick up groceries, etc. If you’re like most other people, however, getting your tires rotated is likely nowhere near the top of that list—if it makes the list at all.
Though often neglected, tire rotation is a critical piece of preventative maintenance for every vehicle. The fact is, as seemingly insignificant as tire rotation appears, it can help prevent a whole slew of problems down the line. Not only does it make financial sense (it prolongs the life of your tires), but it is just overall better for your entire vehicle.
Below are three frequently asked questions about tire rotations and answers from our expert Burt Brothers team.
1. Why should I rotate my tires regularly?
One practical reason you should rotate your tires regularly is that some tire manufacturers require this in order to keep the warranty valid. It also keeps the quality consistent across the tires and helps you maintain a balanced handling experience while you’re driving. Remember that the front and back tires respond to the road differently, so rotating between the two positions helps ensure even wear. And let’s face it: it’s just easier to remember to replace an entire set than to recall which tires you have or haven’t replaced in the past.
2. What are some signs that I need to rotate my tires?
There are some signs to look for if you haven’t rotated your tires in a while (or ever). If you feel your steering wheel vibrating, one of the first places you should look is your tires. Make sure that they are inflated to the proper level (according to your car owner’s manual), and then check the tread. Uneven tread can cause a lot of the vibrations that you feel through the steering wheel while you drive.
Next, look closely at the tires on your vehicle and measure the tread on several spots on each tire. If you notice that there is feathering or inconsistencies in thickness across a single tire, you should look into getting them rotated as soon as possible.
As a general rule of thumb, you should rotate your tires about every six to eight thousand miles. A good way to remember is to have them rotated every time you get an oil change. You may need to get your tires rotated more often if you drive a performance vehicle, for instance, or if you notice substantial uneven wear.
3. What’s the best way to rotate?
Depending on the kind of vehicle that you drive, different rotation patterns work better than others.
Front Wheel Drive
- X-Pattern: These first two options are suited for same-sized, non-directional wheels only. In the X-pattern, switch the front left tire with the back right tire, and the front right tire with the back left.
- Forward Cross: Move the back left tire to the front right tire position and the back right tire to the front left. Then move the front left to the back left and the front right to the back right. If your vehicle has a same-sized spare, include this in the rotation by moving the front right tire to the spare position and the spare to the back right tire position.
- Front to Rear: Unlike the previous two options, this one applies to same-sized, directional wheels. Simply interchange the front left with the back left and the front right with the back right.
Rear Wheel Drive
- Rearward Cross: This is essentially the opposite of the forward cross. Shift the front left tire to the back right and the front right to the back left. Then move the back left to the front left and the back right to the front right. If you have a same-sized spare, move the front left tire to the spare position, then shift the spare to the back left tire position. Move the front right tire to the rear left and shift the back left forward to the front left space.
Different Sized Tires per Axle
- Side to Side: Some performance vehicles have tires that are specific for the front or back axle. In this case, just rotate the left front tire to the right front side and the left rear tire to the right rear side.
While rotating your tires may not be an activity you eagerly anticipate, it’s a vital step if you want to save yourself money and get more mileage out of your ride.