Tire Tech

Tire Rotation Instructions

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Use our Tire Service/Maintenance Record (PDF) to log tire rotations, seasonal tire changeovers and tire-related vehicle services. This type of record is often helpful if warranty consideration is ever necessary.

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Tires should be serviced periodically following the rotation patterns provided in the vehicle's owner's manual or as established by the industry. Using tire rotation as a preventative maintenance will equalize front-to-rear and side-to-side wear rates while enhancing wear quality and pattern noise. Any minor 1/32" to 2/32" differences in front-to-rear tread depth between tires that might be encountered immediately after periodic tire rotations at 3,000-5,000 mile intervals won't upset the vehicle's hydroplaning balance and should not preclude rotating tires. For that matter, any differences in wear rates actually indicate that tire rotations should be done more frequently.

"When done at the recommended times, [tire rotation] can preserve balanced handling and traction and even out tire wear. Tire rotation can even provide performance advantages."

Tire rotation can be beneficial in several ways. When done at the recommended times, it can preserve balanced handling and traction and even out tire wear. Tire rotation can even provide performance advantages.

Many tire mileage warranties require tire rotation to keep the warranty valid. When should tires be rotated? We recommend that tires be rotated every 3,000 to 5,000 miles even if they don't show signs of wear. Tire rotation can often be done with oil change intervals while the vehicle is off the ground. This can also be a good time to have your tires rebalanced if the vehicle has developed a vibration. It's also a good time to inspect the tires for any damage, remove stones or debris from the tire treads, check for uneven wear by checking the tire tread depth and of course, checking your tire pressure.

Tire rotation helps even out tire wear by allowing each tire to serve in as many of the vehicle's wheel positions as possible. Remember, tire rotation can't correct wear problems due to worn mechanical parts or incorrect inflation pressures.

While vehicles are typically equipped with four tires, usually the tires on the front axle need to accomplish very different tasks than the tires on the rear axle. The tasks encountered on a front-wheel drive vehicle are considerably different than those of a rear-wheel drive vehicle. Tire wear experienced on a performance vehicle will usually be more severe than that of a family sedan. Each wheel position can cause different wear rates and different types of tire wear.

It is an advantage when all four tires wear together because as wear reduces a tire's tread depth, it allows all four tires to respond to the driver's input more quickly, maintains the handling and helps increase the tire's cornering traction.

When your tires wear out together, you can get a new set of tires without being forced to buy pairs. If you replace tires in sets of four, you will maintain the original handling balance. In addition, our suppliers constantly introduce new tires, each of which improves upon their past product's performance. If you replace your tires in sets of four, it allows you to experience today's technology, instead of being forced to match yesterday's.

Seasonal Changeovers Provide Opportunities for Tire Rotation

For drivers living in America's Snowbelt that will encounter cold wintry weather conditions, seasonal changeovers to their winter tires and back will provide the opportunity for tire rotations. For drivers that run an average of 12,000-15,000 miles per year, pre- and post-winter tire changeovers represent two of their three annual rotations. All they have to do is rotate their summer tires once more in July to complete their annual preventative maintenance.

Four (4) Tire Rotation

What tire rotation pattern should be followed? The Tire & Rim Association has identified three traditional rotation patterns covering most vehicles (equipped with non-directional tires and wheels which are the same size and offset). The first being the "Rearward Cross" (Figure A); the second being the "Forward Cross" (Figure C); and the third is the "X-Pattern" (Figure B). The X-Pattern can be used as an alternative to A or C.

Today's performance tire and wheel trends have provided the need for two additional tire rotation patterns.

  • The "Front-to-Rear" (Figure D) pattern may be used for vehicles equipped with the same size directional wheels and/or directional tires.
  • A "Side-to-Side" (Figure E) pattern may be used for vehicles equipped with different sized non-directional tires and wheels on the front axle compared to the rear axle.

If the last two rotation patterns do not provide even wear, dismounting, mounting and re-balancing will be necessary to rotate the tires.

Vehicles that use different sized directional wheels and tires, and/or wheels with different front and rear offsets with directional tires will require dismounting, mounting and re-balancing to rotate tires.

Five (5) Tire Rotation

While many vehicles are equipped with temporary spares that cannot be included in a tire rotation program, if the vehicle's four wheels and tires on the ground match the spare wheel and tire (if non-directional and not branded "for temporary use"), they should be included in the tire rotation pattern. Follow the vehicle manufacturer's recommended tire rotation procedures, or if not available, insert the spare in the right rear position at every rotation. Place the tire that would have gone to the right rear in the trunk as the spare until the next tire rotation.

  • On front-wheel drive cars with full-size matching spare, rotate the tires in a forward cross pattern (Figure F)
  • On rear-wheel or four-wheel drive cars with full-size matching spare, rotate the tires in a rearward cross pattern (Figure G)

Five tire rotation results in equally distributed use that will help maintain equivalent tread depths on all five tires throughout their life. When applied to many four-wheel drive and all-wheel drive vehicles, this is required to prevent driveline damage if a flat tire forces a new spare to be put into service with partially worn tires on the other three wheel positions.

Six (6) Tire Rotation

Vehicles with dual rear wheels and non-directional tires of the same type and size in all six wheel positions may use either of the following rotation patterns (Figure H and Figure I), keeping in mind the wear pattern and wear rate of dual rears are sensitive to significant differences in tread depth within the pair. If the vehicle has tires of a different type and/or size on the front and rear axles, they should only use the rotation pattern depicted in Figure I, rotating across the axle side-to-side, but not front-to-rear.

Studded Winter / Snow Tire Rotation

In order to achieve the best possible wintertime performance and longest lifetime from a set of studded tires, they should be rotated periodically to equally share the vehicle's workload. Tire rotation will help all four tires maintain equivalent tire wear throughout their life in spite of the different driving demands experienced on a vehicle's steering and non-steering positions, as well as its driven vs. non-driven axles. The resulting equivalent tread depths will help balance traction levels and handling characteristics, as well as help drivers get more life out of their set of four tires.

Tire Rack recommends rotating studded tires at the beginning of every winter season or every 4,000 miles, whichever comes first.

The rolling direction of studded tires should never be changed.

This can be achieved by rotating tires from front to rear on the same side of the vehicle.

It is also permitted to remount the tires inside-out on the wheels to allow them to be used on other side of the vehicle if uneven wear due to camber is detected.

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