How to rotate tires

Machine taking a tire off of a rim, getting ready for tire rotationYou know you need to have your tires rotated. You hear other drivers talking about it. It even says so in your owner’s manual! But that doesn’t mean you don’t have questions about tire rotation, questions about cost, frequency, and whether it’s really worth it. Get these answers and more, from your friendly neighborhood technicians at Firestone Complete Auto Care.

Why do tires need to be rotated? Even wear.

Tires need to be rotated to even out wear. Front and rear tires carry different loads on most vehicles. Front tires carry a slightly heavier load and tend to wear faster than rear tires. The front-right tire wears faster than the front-left tire because we tend to take left turns faster than we take right turns. Who knew?! And in front-wheel drive vehicles, the front tires wear out almost twice as fast as the rear tires.

If you’ve ever wondered which tire goes where during a rotation, check out this tire rotation diagram. It shows how tires are rotated on front, rear, and four-wheel drive vehicles. As you can see, a tire rotation is more than a game of musical chairs. There’s a specific way your tires must be rotated!Tire rotation diagram for front, rear, and four wheel drive

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How to Rotate Tires: The Basics

Before we review the steps of how to rotate your tires, let’s first go over the tools you’ll need to get the job done. Here’s what you should have in your toolbox to complete this service:

  • Cotton rags
  • Wire brush
  • Car jack
  • Wheel chocks
  • Penetrating oil
  • Spray wheel cleaner
  • Jack stands
  • Lug wrench
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However, when should I replace my tires?

Step-By-Step Guide to Your Tire Rotation

changing a tireNow that you’re all set to learn how to rotate tires, read through these steps once before beginning, so you’ll have a basic idea of what to do and can check our instructions as needed throughout the process.

          Secure Your Car

First, activate your vehicle’s parking brake for added security. If you’d like to be extra careful, feel free to place bricks behind the rear wheels. By doing so, you can focus on the steps of this procedure without worrying about your automobile moving.

Loosen the Lug Nuts

Before you jack up your car, loosen the lug nuts with your lug wrench. Doing this prior to jacking up your vehicle makes the lug nuts easier to remove.

Determine the Rotation Direction

The type of tread on your tires will determine which direction you should be rotating them. For example, if your tires have a non-directional tread pattern, which is most common, you’ll want to use the cross pattern.

However, if you own tires that have directional tire tread, they’ll be rotated by swapping the front tires and back tires on each corresponding side.

Jack Up Your Car

Once you’ve figured out which type of rotation your tires need, jack up one corner of your vehicle. Again, the corner you lift first will depend on the rotation pattern, so make sure to determine beforehand. Then, place the jack stand underneath and lower the jack.

Remove the Wheel

Take the first wheel off your automobile by using your lug wrench. After you’ve removed the tire, set the lug nuts aside for later use. Next, repeat those steps on the wheel that’s located where you’ll move the first wheel. Follow this guide for non-directional tires:

  • Left Front Tire moves to Right Rear
  • Right Front Tire moves to Left Rear
  • Left Rear Tire moves to Left Front
  • Right Rear Tire moves to Right Front
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Clean Up

If you’re in the mood for some extra care, use a wire brush and wheel cleaner to scrub off any brake dust. By doing so, you’ll keep the wheel rims in good condition.

Tighten Up

Once you’ve swapped the tires to their appropriate positions, tighten the lug nuts using a torque wrench. To ensure that you’ve secured the lug nuts properly, check your Owner’s Manual.

You’re Done!

Congrats! All you have to do now is lower your car from the jack stands. Feel free to tighten the lug nuts more with a lug wrench once your vehicle is back on the ground.

Make sure that you secure the lug nuts by working in a star pattern. By doing so, you’ll avoid any side effects caused by lug nuts that aren’t tightened evenly.

Knowing How Often to Rotate Tires

The best way to make sure that you’re rotating your tires with enough frequency is to follow your recommended schedule of routine maintenance. Instead of trying to guess when it’s time for a rotation, having a schedule in place will make sure that you never wait too late for this maintenance task.

Barring your standardized schedule, the best general practice is to have your tires rotated every six months or every 7,500 miles, whichever comes first. While this schedule will work for most vehicles, you should check your owner’s manual to see if your manufacturer has any recommendations for how often to rotate tires.

The Importance of Scheduled Tire Rotations

There are countless benefits that come from regularly rotating your tires, including maintaining the integrity of your tires over time. By regularly scheduling tire rotations, you’ll be limiting your risk of a blowout, meaning you’ll be much safer when you go for a drive.

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Also, by making sure that your tires wear evenly, you’ll be making sure that you have proper traction when driving your car, and you may also be able to improve your efficiency. Clearly, regularly scheduling tire rotations is one of the most effective ways of keeping your vehicle running like it just came off the dealership lot.

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