Tires are like the foundation of a building that holds it firmly in place. For a car, they keep it connected to the road and consequently, their maintenance is of utmost importance.
While it isn’t given as much importance as say, changing the car’s oil at every service interval, we suggest that tire rotation should be looked at with more seriousness and caution.
What is Tire Rotation?
Tire rotation is a way of managing a tire’s wear and tear which occurs while driving a vehicle over roads and rough terrain. Tire Rotation is a process that involves moving each tire to a different position on your car’s axles.
This means that the front tires are moved to the rear while the rear tires are moved to the front.
This happens diagonally also in the case of all-wheel-drive cars where the rear left tire position is swapped with the front right tire and vice versa.
This shuffle helps all tires wear out evenly.
How often should you rotate tires?
Though it is normally recommended to rotate at intervals between 5000 and 7500 miles, we recommend users refer to the owner’s manual to know the exact mileage at which the tires need to be rotated.
There are also other factors to consider that determine when the tires need to be rotated. The tires of a front-wheel-drive car will wear differently compared to the tires of a rear-wheel-drive car.
This happens because the wheels being powered by the engine have more force to exert and often exhibit a quicker rate of wear.
For instance, one can observe increased wear of the front tires in a front-wheel-drive car since the wheels work to steer, brake, and put the power down on the road while carrying the extra weight of the front-mounted engine and transaxle.
This works the other way around in a rear-wheel-drive car where the rear tires suffer more wear and tear compared to the front tires.
In the case of an all-wheel-drive car, the wear and tear are relatively even since all four wheels receive power from the engine. But, it is still recommended to rotate tires to make the overall wear more even.
When one follows their vehicle’s manufacturer-recommended tire rotation intervals, they support even tread wear which helps achieve a much better driving experience.
How long do the tires last if you don’t rotate them?
Tires go through a gruesome beating, especially in the hands of a spirited driver. Without regular rotations, tire treads can wear down unevenly.
This may give rise to a myriad of issues like a rough driving experience, uneven contact with the road surface, and eventually- loss of traction.
Some more factors depending on the geography can cause greater threats.
In hot regions, uneven tire wear could lead to uneven heat dissipation that results in faster deterioration of the tire.
Extreme heat could also lead to tire blowouts and accidents. In rain-bearing areas, an uneven tire tread could perform a poor job of channeling water properly through the grooves on the tire.
This can have serious consequences like aquaplaning, especially at high speeds.
The more one delays tire rotations, the more dangerous that vehicle could be to drive.
Delaying tire rotations could also lead to frequent punctures as the worn-out section of the tire keeps getting thinner.
The thin part of the tire loses strength gradually and becomes easily penetrable.
If a car’s tires last 60,000 miles as per its manufacturer, then non- rotated tires could last around 50,000 miles.
That is a deficit of around 10,000 miles which is quite a lot considering the minimum amount of time and money invested in rotating tires.
Tire rotation isn’t a tedious or expensive process but could help one save a lot of money in the long run.
Can rotating tires mess up the alignment?
This is something that shouldn’t happen since tire rotation and wheel alignment go hand in hand.
It is important to check wheel alignment once the tires have been rotated.
Many a time, alignment is ignored after the tires are rotated but if the wheels are misaligned, rotating the tires would not help serve the purpose.
A misalignment of the tires could also cause problems that are mentioned above.
Rotated tires need to be checked for alignment, especially if the car has run thousands of miles on stock suspension. Any offset caused by a worn-out suspension can be reduced or eliminated by aligning the rotated tires.
When should you rotate your tires?
To know the accurate answer for this, one needs to check their vehicle manual to know when the tires need to be rotated.
Rotation intervals vary from car to car and manufacturer to manufacturer and hence, there is no single answer that would apply to all cars.
If the vehicle in question is old or if the user manual is misplaced, we suggest you check with your tire supplier and obtain details like tire rotation intervals and tire warranty information.
How to rotate tires?
It is fairly easy to rotate tires in modern cars since all tires would be of the same size and the rotation pattern too, would be unidirectional. We’re listing the best practices to follow while rotating tires on a car.
For front-wheel-drive vehicles: One needs to exchange the front tires with the rear tires on their respective sides.
The rear tires on the other need to be moved to the opposite front corner. For example, the right rear tire must be moved to the front left position.
For rear-wheel-drive vehicles: One needs to exchange the rear tires with the front tires on their respective sides.
The front tires on the other need to be moved to the opposite rear corner. For example, the right front tire needs to be moved to the rear left position.
For all-wheel-drive vehicles: In this case, all four tires need to be exchanged with each other diagonally.
The front right tire gets exchanged with the rear left tire and vice versa. The front left tire gets exchanged with the rear right tire and vice versa.
Extra attention needs to be paid when rotating tires on vehicles with different wheel sizes at the front and rear, especially on those that are fitted with unidirectional tires.
This is a common setup on high-performance vehicles, and tire-rotation patterns need to be adjusted to suit.
If one is unsure of the tire rotation intervals or the procedure involved, it is advisable to consult the owner’s manual or talk to an expert who is familiar with the vehicle in question and its tires.
The task may demand some time and energy but we recommend tire rotation to be taken seriously- at least in the interest of tire longevity, safety, and financial benefit in the long run.