It’s important to rotate your tires on a routine basis, but there are still plenty of scenarios in which it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
Sometimes, you may not have the experience or equipment necessary to complete the job in an efficient or safe manner. Other times, it’s simply not necessary due to the tread of the tire.
This quick guide will tell you how to know when to simply save tire rotation for another day.
Don’t Rotate Your Tires if:
- You don’t know what you’re doing. If you jack up your car in an improper fashion, you’re liable to break something. If you remove a tire or mount a tire incorrectly, you might break you car. Even if you’re able to drive away, if you don’t know what you’re doing, your tinkering might cause irreparable damage later on (or damages requiring extensive, expensive repairs).
- If you don’t have a professional lift which can keep all four of your tires in the air at one time. You certainly can use a jack to hoist up the car one tire at a time, but that is time consuming, exhausting, and can be dangerous for beginners. Definitely don’t use four separate jacks to raise the car, as that is putting a lot of strain on amateur equipment.
- You have special tires. There are some kinds of performance or situation-specific tires which have to be rotated in a different way to aid with the formation of a specific tread pattern on your tires. If you’re not aware of this, you may not be able to treat your tires in the way they would require.
- You don’t have to! Many manufacturers and auto garages consistently run sales and specials wherein they will rotate your tires for you if you are requesting another service.
- It isn’t time yet: For the most part, tire manufacturers recommend that you get on a recurring schedule for tire rotation once the tires are new and stick to that recurrence as closely as you can.
How Often to Rotate Your Tires
This is a nuanced question, but there are three simple, general answers to this question.
- Rotate your tires as frequently as the tire manufacturers suggest that you should. They made the tires, have gone through multiple rounds of testing with them, and have a vast customer base which they use as an ongoing research project to ensure that their recommendations are in the best interest of both customer and company. They likely have the best information! In addition, proof of compliance with manufacturer routine care recommendations may be required for warranty disputes if they should later arise.
- Rotate your tires as frequently as your (trustworthy) mechanic suggests. You’ll likely be taking your car in for other reasons (such as oil changes and routine maintenance) at least once a year. Your mechanic will take a look at your tires from all angles and provide expert recommendations as to whether your tires should be rotated. In fact, they may just go ahead and do it for you for free.
- As a general rule of thumb, you should request that your tires be rotated every six months, or six to eight thousand miles you put on your car. However, that’s only a general rule! If your tire manufacturer or your auto mechanic have differing recommendations, err on the side of the earlier one (unless you feel you’re being pressured by a too-eager mechanic).
Rotating the tires on your car is a simple way to ensure that you’re taking care of your tires — which are, humble as they may seem, the only part of your car that actually touches the road. Rotating your tires can help with ensuring that your tires experience wear consistently, which can help them last longer and your car balance and run more safely. However, there are situations in which you shouldn’t rotate your tires, simply because it isn’t time yet.
What Does Tire Rotation Do?
Tire rotation is a relatively self-explanatory activity: it is the process of taking your tires off of your car, moving them to another position on your car, and re-affixing them. In a typical scenario, this would involve moving the tires from the front of your car to the back of your car, because the type of wear that front tires receive slightly differs from the type of wear affecting back tires.
However, this isn’t always the case. Differing tires with differing qualities from a variety of manufacturers may have very different tire rotation patterns, timelines, and other needs. Therefore, unless you’re extremely sure that you know what you’re doing, it’s a good idea to leave the task to professionals.
Importance of Tire Rotation
It’s a task that may seem a little arbitrary, especially if you have all-wheel drive. Why is it important to rotate your tires on a consistent basis?
The basic premise behind consistent tire rotation is the desire to make sure that each of the tires experience wear at an even clip, instead of being run thin in one place and not another. This is better for your tires, better for your vehicle, and better for your wallet — consistent, even wear can make a tire last much longer.
There are many ailments that may strike your tires which can be avoided by consistent tire rotation, such as tire cupping. Tire cupping is a tire condition basically caused by uneven tire wear showing up in three to four inch patches on your tires. This can cause a lot of vibration in your car, as well as high noise levels — which is, at the very least, incredibly annoying, and it can be very dangerous.
There are other reasons why it’s important to rotate your tires. One very simple (but compelling) rationale is that your tire manufacturers may require record of this to keep their warranty agreement with you valid. As this can really help you out in a difficult time, it’s worth rotating your tires to keep your warranty up!
Why it’s Safer to Rotate Your Tires Consistently
Even tire wear can contribute to much smoother, more reliable handling of your car. For example, if your car is a front-drive vehicle and you don’t consistently rotate your tires, the front tires will eventually have much less tread than the back tires.
A thinner tread will result in less helpful contact with the driving surface, which (especially for front-drive vehicles) can result in less control over the vehicle. In a situation where the road is wet, this could result in hydroplaning — not a safe situation for anyone involved.
Another reason that the timing of tire rotation is important devolves on the importance of tire alignment. Tire alignment is the concept of the adjustment of a vehicle’s suspension. The suspension is the system that connects the tires to the rest of your car. Adjusting the alignment involves optimizing the angle at which the tires are connected to the vehicle — which can affect how they hit the road.
If your tires have experienced uneven wear due to a lack of consistent tire rotation, the surface which hits the road will not itself be flat — forcing your vehicle’s alignment (and therefore, suspension) into a tense and unsafe position.
Basically, as your tires are the only parts of your car to touch the road, keeping them even is a ‘safety from the ground up’ initiative. It’s a simple step, but one definitely (due to its importance) best left to people who know what they are doing, and have all of the equipment required to do a safe and fantastic job.
Always defer to manufacturer recommendations when you contemplate the timing of rotating your tires. Make sure that you have all of the experience and equipment you need, whether it be yours or a professional’s — it’s incredibly important for your safety that this task be completed with precision and skill.
Also, take a look at our recent post on when not to rotate your tires.