Rotating your tires is one of the most important procedures to prolong their lifespan, but it’s more than most people think.
You need to be aware of the proper techniques and frequency to ensure that it’s a success every time, as we’ll discuss below.
What Is A Tire Rotation?
A tire rotation is where you unmount your tires and change their positions by rotating them on a vehicle. For instance, your existing front left tire might be rotated into the back right tire position of your car. This is done to reduce excessive tire wear in the same spot on your tires. By rotating the tires, they can wear evenly during their lifespan.
For more information on rotating your tires, including how to do it, when not to do it and more, read on!
What Is A Tire Rotation Good For?
Rotating your tires spreads wear evenly across all four tires, ensuring you get the most out of them in tread life.
It also keeps the tread on the tires uniform so your vehicle doesn’t have to struggle to operate one more than the other, resulting in better fuel economy and less strain on internal components such as the drivetrain.
Some tire manufacturers also require you to perform this procedure to maintain your tires otherwise your warranty won’t cover damage.
Can I Rotate My Own Tires?
You don’t need to go to the shop; you can rotate your own tires right in your own garage if you have the right tools, time to spare, and general expertise.
You need a car jack to lift the car off the ground and some jack stands to hold it up so you can perform the procedure yourself.
Keep in mind that the car jack which comes with your car isn’t recommended for use here because it was meant to hold your car up for short amounts of time to allow you to change one tire, so you’d need to get another one that’s more durable.
When Should You Not Rotate Your Tires?
You should avoid rotating your tires if you don’t have prior experience in at least changing tires a couple of times.
Moreover, you shouldn’t try to rotate your tires if you don’t have the right tools, i.e. a strong lifting and propping system, fasteners, adequate lighting, etc.
Ignoring this advice means you’re likely to cause damage or something more severe to the vehicle or yourself.
If you have directional tires, you also shouldn’t rotate tires unless you know exactly where each tire is designed to go, as discussed below.
What Happens If Tire Rotation Is Done Wrong?
An improper tire rotation usually refers to a situation where directional tires are fitted onto the wrong wheel.
Directional or unidirectional tires have tread patterns that are made to rotate in one direction, and this affects the direction they can be mounted in relation to the vehicle.
If you disregard this and mount one facing the wrong direction, you will increase your car’s braking distance, and drop grip on wet surfaces and when cornering.
Why Does My Car Shake After Tire Rotation?
If you rotate your tires and notice that your car, specifically the steering wheel, shakes then the tires might be out of balance.
To avoid this, always make sure that you get your tires rotated by a professional and have them balance the tires immediately after.
Why Does BMW Say Not To Rotate Tires?
BMW manuals usually recommend that the owner should not rotate their tires and they don’t go into details, but they imply that it doesn’t prolong their life span in any significant way.
Can Rotating Tires Mess Up Alignment?
Rotating your tires doesn’t affect your alignment because the former is concerned with the tread while the latter is concerned with the suspension.
What Is A Proper Tire Rotation?
According to the Tire and Rim Association, proper tire rotation depends on the type of tires you have on your setup, determined by sizes and designs (directional or non-directional), and transmission layout i.e. AWD, FWD, RWD.
For uniform non-directional tires on FWD, you should use the X-pattern where all the tires are switched diagonally. For example, the front left tire moves to the rear right and so on.
You can also use the forward cross, where the front tires move to the back on the same side while the rear tires move to the front but on opposite sides.
For uniform non-directional tires on AWD, you should use the rearward cross where the rear tires move to the front on the same side while the front tires go to the back but on opposite sides.
When you have directional tires, you should use the front to back method, where front tires move to the back and vice versa but on the same side.
Some manufacturers recommend you incorporate your spare tire into your rotation schedule so it wears evenly along with the rest of your set.
If you decide to do this, you should make sure the spare is a full-size tire because temporary or donut tires aren’t meant to be used for long.
Can I Rotate My Tires Front To Back?
As stated above, you can rotate your tires front to back, and it’s actually the recommended pattern when you’re dealing with directional tires because otherwise you’re fitting them incorrectly and sacrificing control.
To find out more about tires, you can also see our posts on how much does it cost to rotate tires, blownout tires, and if you can replace run-flat tires with regular tires.
Rotating your tires involves changing their positions between wheels to ensure they wear evenly as different wheels are subjected to different levels of force.
This ensures that you get the most out of each tire’s tread life and you don’t have to replace one tire at a time.
Some car or tire manufacturers issue warranties that are only valid if you can prove that you were taking care of the tires, and this includes rotating them regularly.
You can rotate your own tires but you need special tools, time, and a lot of expertise if you’re going to do it successfully, and you should probably leave it to a professional if you haven’t at least changed a tire more than once before.
You can get your tires rotated when you take your car in for another service such as tire replacement, an oil change, etc.
Your tires should also get balanced right after they’ve been rotated, otherwise, your car will start shaking.
Rotating your tires does not affect alignment because that’s handled by the suspension, which isn’t supposed to be interfered with during the process itself.
Before rotating, you should check to see whether or not you have directional tires because this determines the side of the car on which you can safely mount them.
If you have a unidirectional tire on the wrong side of the car, it could hurt your control in corners, make it so your car takes longer to brake and reduce grip on wet pavement.