Tire Rotation Encourages Even Tread Wear


There are many difficult maintenance and repair chores associated with your automobile, but tire rotation isn’t one of them … and it’s a service that clearly adds to your bottom line. If you know how to change a flat tire, then you have all the necessary skills to perform your own tire rotation.

The concept of tire rotation is simple- you swap the front tires of your car or truck with the back tires at regular intervals. By rotating your tires you increase the life of the entire set of tires. If your tires were never rotated it’s likely you would experience irregular wear in one or two tires, but by rotating at regular intervals you allow all four tires to wear out at about the same time so they can be replaced with a matching set.

Naturally, if you brought tire professionals from ten reputable tire discounters into a room and asked their opinion, you’d get ten different ideas on tire rotation. There is the opinion one should never rotate your rear tires with your front tires. Or that you should swap the front and rear left-side together, or the crossover opinion of left front to right rear and right front to left rear. Each of these opinions has its pros and cons.

There is one concept that all can agree upon. If you own a front-wheel drive vehicle the tires on the front wear twice as fast as the tires on the rear. There are several reasons for this: the drive train’s power goes though the front tires, the front tires shoulder the brunt of the cornering, and the front tires do the lion’s share of the braking.

All of this friction results in the gradual loss of tread, at a greater rate of wear on the front tires than the rear ones. For this reason, if you never rotated your tires your rear tires would only be about half worn when your front tires needed replacing. This plays into the opinion that you should never swap your front and rear tires when rotating … simply replace the front tires. However, this plan has its drawbacks. You might not be able to match to your rear tires, which will introduce different handling and traction characteristics.

Most experts agree that rotating all four tires together makes the most sense. Tire manufacturers, vehicle manufacturers and mechanics all recommend one of several rotation patterns, but the truth is it makes virtually no difference which way you rotate your tires as long as each tire divides its time equally on the front and rear of the car. The goal is to have all the tires wear equally so that all four are ready for replacement at the same time.

How often you rotate your tires is another area of wide ranging opinion, but the general consensus is to schedule a tire rotation somewhere in the range of every 5,000 to 7,500 miles. If you’re getting your brakes serviced it’s always a good idea to ask the mechanic to rotate the tires since they’re already off the car. And don’t forget to check your service contract because some tire stores include basic tire rotation as one of their benefits.

By regularly rotating your tires you promote even tread wear and reduce the chances of uneven wear and bald spots. A recent survey of 7,000 vehicles conducted by the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) uncovered the disturbing statistic that more than 11% of vehicles were riding on at least one bald tire, a dangerous driving situation for both the vehicle’s owner and the others sharing that road. Scheduled tire rotation will lessen the chance of this situation occurring on your vehicle, and at the very least provides you, or a trained technician from a reputable tire discounter, an opportunity to get a close visual inspection of your tires and identify a potential hazardous situation before it becomes a road hazard.

Written by: Michael Trudel, who is a freelance writer for local and national marketing companies.