The tires on your car are one of the most important safety features – yet they also tend to be ignored, overshadowed by the panache of self-driving technology and the thrills of rubber-burning horsepower. But the fact is that tires are vital to your vehicle’s performance, and the proper maintenance of those tires can make all the difference in the handling and comfort of your ride. That’s why the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends routine Tire Rotation as a part of your regular maintenance.
Tires aren’t designed to last forever, but regular tire rotation can extend the life of your tires and help you avoid costly repairs down the road. Essentially, a tire rotation involves moving your tires to different positions on your car, so that all four tires get equal amounts of wear. When done regularly, the tires on your car will show even tread-wear across their entire surface, improving handling and traction while extending the life of the tire and suspension components.
The exact tire-rotation pattern depends on your vehicle, so check your owner’s manual for the recommended method. In general, the front-drive tires will move to the rear and cross over to the opposite side, and the rear-wheel drive tires will move forward without switching sides (to the right front and then to the left front). There are a variety of other tire-rotation patterns that may be used depending on your vehicle, but these two are among the most common.
When you rotate your tires, it’s a good opportunity to visually inspect them for damage or other issues that may require attention. The tires are the only part of your car that come into direct contact with the road, so it’s essential that they’re always in good condition to protect you and your passengers.
Keeping your tires in good condition is also important for fuel efficiency. Unevenly worn tires can cause your engine to work harder, resulting in higher fuel consumption. This may even result in premature wear of your tires and suspension parts, so keep up with tire rotation to save money on gas and extend the life of your vehicle.
Uneven tread-wear can also lead to vibrations when driving, which can be uncomfortable for the driver and a potential safety issue. You can prevent uneven tread-wear by rotating your tires regularly, preferably every 5,000 miles.
If your vehicle has directional tires, the standard rotation method will not work, as you can only rotate them forward and back. Instead, you’ll need to follow a more complicated pattern to ensure that the front and rear tires wear evenly. This will require dismounting and remounting the directional tires, as well as a more involved X-pattern that involves moving the non-directional tires in a similar fashion. This can be difficult to execute properly if your vehicle has a full-sized spare tire that is included in the rotation, so be sure to discuss the proper procedure with a service professional.