Even if your car is properly aligned, tires still need to be rotated for optimal wear performance. Rotation counteracts the uneven wear characteristics of each wheel position on the vehicle. How often should you do it? To maximize tire tread life, follow the recommended rotation schedule in your vehicle owners’s manual. If there is not a recommendation from the vehicle manufacturer, then rotate your tires every 5,000 to 7,000 miles by taking your car to a trusted tire dealer or automotive service center.
If your car's wheels are out of alignment, your tires will wear unevenly, which can lead to early tire replacement. Also, a car out of alignment could signal other mechanical problems that may affect tire performance. For the best results, choose a shop that uses accurate computer-assisted machines, and ask for a printout of the adjustment angles to keep with your service records.
Tires and wheels that are out of balance don't just cause annoying vibration. Uneven tread wear may also result, further reducing your ride comfort and leading to earlier tire replacement. A shop with an electronic spin balancer can help smooth things out.
Front-wheel drive vehicles place braking, steering and driving forces on the front axle tires. Rear axle tires receive primarily braking forces, resulting in a much faster wear rate for the front axle tires.
The "Modified Cross Pattern" can be performed on any front- or rear-wheel drive vehicle equipped with four non-directional tires (directional tires must be rotated front to rear only). Free rolling axle tires are crossed and installed to the drive axle, while the drive axle tires are brought straight to the free rolling axle (without crossing). Just remember, “cross to drive”.
Directional treads are designed to perform in the direction denoted on the tire sidewall only. They must always be rotated front to rear — no matter the vehicle they are installed on — so the direction of the rotation does not change.
Watch our Tread Life video to see more rotation patterns.
Following rotation, adjust all tires to the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended inflation pressures. Always torque lug nuts or lug bolts to manufacturer’s recommended specification.
Vehicles equipped with permanent four-wheel drive and those with "on command" four-wheel drive and driven mainly in four-wheel drive mode are best suited to a four-tire cross rotation. With this pattern, tires from both axles are crossed and installed on the opposing axle.
Straight rotation was developed in the early years of radial tires. This rotation method switches the tires front-to-rear but does not cross side to side. This rotation method is used for directional tread patterns.
If your spare tire is a matching full size tire (as opposed to a temporary spare) and you want to keep it in rotation, move the spare to the right rear position. Then place the tire that would have gone to the right rear in the spare position.
If your vehicle has dual rear wheels the rotation pattern looks like two triangles, one on the driver’s side and one on the passenger’s side. For each side, move the outer dual tire to the inner position, the inner dual tire to the steer position and the steer tire to the outer dual position.
Never include a temporary spare tire in the rotation.
Directional tread patterns must be rotated front-to-rear only so the direction of the rotation does not change.