Tire Maintenance & Safety

Does tire rotation affect alignment?

Last updated 12/08/2022 - Originally published 12/08/2022
Written by SimpleTire

No, tire rotation doesn’t affect wheel alignment. Although tire rotation and wheel alignment are two critical aspects of right tire maintenance, they are independent. What are these, how do they function, and how often you should exercise them, let’s find out.

What is a tire rotation?

Tire rotation involves shifting a tire from one corner of your vehicle to the other. While front-wheel drive vehicles exert braking, driving, and steering forces on the front-axle tires, rear-wheel drive vehicles put pressure on the rear-axle tires. This leads to faster wear of the tires on particular axles. Hence, swapping the other axle tires with the drive axle ones assure uniform wear and optimum performance. The tire rotation also depends on the type of tires you have – directional or non-directional. Looking for the best ways to rotate your tires? Fortunately, we have a helpful guide on all things tire rotation.

What is a wheel alignment?

Wheel alignment refers to the correction of the angle of the suspension setup which connects the wheels to the vehicle. The adjusted angle decides how the tire makes contact with the surface. A misaligned wheel may pull your vehicle to one side of the road or create vibration in the steering.

The connection between tire rotation and alignment

Most people think that tire rotation and alignment are interrelated, but they’re not. If you recently had your vehicle’s wheels aligned and are now thinking to rotate tires, you can go ahead and do it as the adjustment in the tire alignment is done to the suspension setup and not the wheels. Swapping wheels won’t disturb the setup.

How often should you rotate your tires?

You should follow the recommended tire rotation schedule mentioned in your owner’s manual. If it’s missing, you should rotate your tires every 5000 to 7000 miles.

How often should you get an alignment?

Ideally, a vehicle should get a tire alignment every 1 or 2 years. It largely depends on your driving style, vehicle type, wheels, surface conditions, and suspension setup.

The benefits of tire rotation and alignment

Here are the advantages of tire rotation:

  1. Improved wear: The wear pattern of the front and rear tires differ. For instance in rear-wheel drive vehicles, the front tires are used to take turns and change directions while the rear ones absorb the driving force. Swapping their positions is the only way to offset this pattern and prolong the tire tread life.
  2. Better handling: Handling is directly proportional to the tire’s grip on the road - the firmer the better. Uneven tread may go unnoticed on dry surfaces but on wet ones, the effect of hydroplaning may take you by surprise.
  3. Reduced vibration: At high speeds, uneven tread leads to consistent vibrations in the steering, brake pedal, gearstick, and many other places. Timely tire rotation negates the vibration issue and helps the tire wear gradually.
  4. Saves money: You get the most value from your tires by performing periodic rotation, which saves you from premature replacement as not rotating your tires often voids a manufacturer’s mileage warranty. Additionally, regular tire rotation saves fuel and minimizes the chances of tire blowouts.

Here are the benefits of wheel alignment:

  1. Enhanced fuel efficiency: Tires are meant to roll freely, and misaligned tires tend to drag instead of roll, requiring additional engine power to move. Aligned tires work freely and help improve fuel efficiency.
  2. Consistent smooth ride: Misaligned tires pull the vehicle to one side of the road and create vibration in the steering. An alignment irons out most hiccups and gives you a smooth ride.
  3. Longer tire life: Uneven and premature wear is the worst problem with misaligned tires. A proper aligned job assures long-lasting tires with reduced investment in replacement tires.
  4. Improved steering: You will likely need to keep correcting your steering to drive in a straight line with misaligned wheels. The steering returns to its normal operations once the tires are aligned.
  5. Fewer repairs: Misaligned wheels not only reduce their lifespan, but they also tend to hurt other parts of your vehicle like the suspension and brakes. Being conscious about your wheel alignment can save you big money.

There is no particular order that works best since tire rotation and alignment are not interdependent. Usually, drivers go for tire rotation first followed by alignment.

No, tire rotation cannot lead to misalignment as the latter occurs when you have hit a big pothole or any other severe blow to the suspension setup.

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