Helpful Car Repair Tips

Why Rotate My Tires?

Posted by Brian Brown on March 12, 2010 at 12:15 PM

Why Rotate My Tires?

No matter how well your car or truck is in alignment, it will never be perfect. Front tires will tend to wear unevenly from side to side due to the minor changes in alignment as well as from the forces involved when turning. Also if your vehicle is rear wheel drive, the rear tires will wear quicker than the front.

 

What is the proper Tire Rotation Pattern for My Car?

The best pattern is found in your car's owners manual. The manufacturer has taken all variables into consideration and has determined the best pattern to prolong your tires life. Be aware that some vehicles have different size tires from front to back, so all you can do is swap wheels from side to side. Also be aware when buying tires, if they are directional (designed to run on the road in one direction only) you will have additional challenges in that you will have to dismount the tires and remount and balance if you want to cross sides. You can simply rotate front-back, back-front but that will more than likely not be the best for tire wear.

 

When should I rotate my tires?

Again, your owners manual will have the recommended intervals, but if you are ever in doubt, do it at every oil change to be safe. It's more important to rotate during the first 10,000 miles, so pay particular attention to new tires and their rotation schedule.

 

How Do I Actually Rotate my tires?

•Tools Needed: A floor jack or the jack from your car. A lug wrench or impact wrench and socket. Jack stands, sometimes called axle stands and a torque wrench. You will also need wheel chocks to keep the car from rolling away unexpectedly and some anti-sieze compound.

•Procedure: With the car on a hard level surface, make sure the car is in park or in 1st gear if you have a manual transmission and that the parking brake is on. Place the wheel chocks at the downhill side of the front or rear tires, depending on how your car is situated. We want to keep the car from rolling away if something bad happens.

If you have an impact wrench, procede to the next step, if not, then break loose all of your lugnuts while the car in on the ground. This will save you from fighting with wheels that will want to turn when jacked off of the ground.

Begin by jacking up the car at whatever end the wheel chocks are NOT located. This will assure that the car does not roll away while jacking it up. Once the car is high enough, place the jack stands at the approved locations (check your owners manual) or on a solid flat portion of the frame. Do not raise the vehicle any higher than is necessary to remove the wheels.

Remove all the lug nuts, remove the wheels and do the tire rotation shuffle ! You can use a crayon or chalk to mark the tires so you do not get confused. Mark the original or destination position, whichever is easier for you to remember. Once all the wheels are in their final resting place, place some anti-sieze compound on the wheel studs and tighten the lugnuts but not to the final torque.

Lower the car to the ground by reversing the sequence used to get the car on the jack stands. Once on the the ground, torque the lugnuts in a cross pattern with a quality torque wrench, not an impact wrench. Using an impact wrench may cause uneven torques and warp your rotors, so a torque wrench is critical here.

 

What Should I Look For When Having A Tire Shop Do My Tire Rotation?

Make sure they know the proper tire rotation pattern from your owners manual. Look it up before you take your car or truck in for service and leave the owners manual on the front seat with the proper page open to help your mechanic. Also make sure that the tire shop uses a torque wrench or "torque sticks" which are long sockets for an impact gun which prevent over torquing. Also it is a good idea to ask them to put some anti-sieze on the wheel studs before tightening the lug nuts, you will thank me if you ever get a flat on the side of the road.

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