How to Rotate your Tires

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The single most important safety feature of your car are the tires it rides on. That ribbon of rubber is the only thing between you and the asphalt. So, care for your tires is extremely important. We're talking about tire rotation and ongoing inspection and proper inflation of your tires. The act of tire rotation is when you reposition your car's tires in specific patterns, either from front to back or from side to side. Often times, tire rotation is required in order to keep your new tires under warranty. What is tire rotation and why is it important? Let's find out.

What's Tire Rotation all about?

The periodic changing of the positions of your tires is known as tire rotation and its main purpose is to extend the life of your tires. Proper care of your tires also adds to fuel efficiency. Check your owner's manual to find out how often your car's automaker requires you to rotate your tires. This is generally every 5,000 miles. Many dealerships will rotate your tires free of charge if you purchased tires from them and they do this while your car is in for an oil change.

Rotating the tires offers the perfect opportunity to inspect your tires for wear or any damage as well as checking the tire pressure for proper inflation. If you have noticed any vibration from the tires under highway driving, it also offers a good time to have the tires rebalanced.

Why Rotate your Tires?

The main reason to rotate your tires is that it allows the tires to wear evenly across all four tires and it adds significantly to the life of your tires' tread wear. That's because the position where each tire sits gives a different relationship to the friction each tire experiences on the road. For instance, if you have a front-wheel drive vehicle, the front tires handle a larger portion of the torque that's needed when you turn the car, as well as when you accelerate and brake. All that adds to the amount of wear on the tire. By moving those front tire to the back of the vehicle, all four tires get the same amount of even wear over time.
New tires have deep tread which is more susceptible to uneven wear. Rotating the tires every 5,000 miles keeps the tread wear on each tire even and the tread depth uniform. This allows for the most even traction and handling on all four tires. Rotating the tires will improve the handling, cornering, and braking performance of your vehicle. Because the tread wear is even on all four tires, you'll also be safer on the road. If you happen to have an all-wheel drive vehicle, rotating the tire will assure evenly worn tires and that means lower stress on your car's drivetrain.

What are the Patterns all About?
All of the above rotation patterns are for vehicles that have tires of uniform size and that are non-directional.

Pattern Types

This pattern is for vehicles that are four-wheel or all-wheel drive. Rear tires are moved to the front and kept on the same side of the vehicle while the front tires are moved to opposite sides of the rear.
This pattern is recommended for front-wheel drive vehicles and all tires are moved diagonally, left rear to right front and right rear to left front.
Also used for front-wheel drive vehicles, the forward Cross moves the front wheels directly to the rear and diagonally crosses the left rear to the right front and right rear to the left front.
On many high-performance vehicles, the rear tires are wider than the front tires. In that case, the rotation pattern is called Side-to-Side. The left front is moved to the right front and the right front is moved to the left front. The left rear is swapped with the right rear and the right rear is moved to the left rear. Al tires are switched with their same-sized partner, remaining on the same axle.

But what about when you have directional tires? That's when you use the rotation pattern called Front-to-Back. For directional tires all tires are moved from one axle to the other but remain on the same side of the vehicle. The tires are basically just swapped from front to back, left front to left rear and right front to right rear.
Let Lithia Help
Tire rotation involves getting the vehicle up off the ground and the use of air tools and wrenches to efficiently move tires and wheels to different positions. Let our ASE-trained technicians handle your tire rotations when you bring your car in for a service. You can find the Lithia Motors dealer near you here.