Getting the most out of your vehicle’s tires means rotating them once or twice a year or every six- to eight-thousand miles. That’s a fact of vehicle ownership everyone should know and follow. Of course, its much easier to have a professional rotate your tires, such as your local brand dealer, but it doesn’t hurt to know all about the process and it’s variables.
The basic rotation
Easiest for a dealer or a car owner is the front-to-back wheel exchange. On each side of the car, the front tires go to the back and the back to the front. Professional mechanics refer to this as a “switcharoo” (OK, I’m kidding.) This type of tire rotation is mainly for directional tires, or tires that have specifically moulded their rubber grooving to rotate in one direction. These grooves form a V shape for good stability and handling through more slippery road conditions, and the tire will be equipped with a sidewall arrow pointing to the forward rotation they should be placed at. Thus, they can only stay on the left or right side of their vehicle.
Different sized tires
Performance cars which are most likely rear-wheel drive will sometimes have larger rear tires compared to the front pair. According to Thomson Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram (Thomson, GA), this gives the tire more material to erode through. This tire configuration requires a side-to-side rotation, wherein you exchange front-right for front-left and vice versa, and back-right for back-left, to negate any uneven wear maneuvering the vehicle takes on the tires.
Best for rear-wheel drive vehicles is a cross exchange to more evenly wear on your tires. This requires that your tires both be non-directional and be the same size both front and back, as it moves the front tires to the rear, and rear tires to the front.
Front-wheel drive cars employ a similar methodology, but with a forwards cross. Back tires will move to the front and be attached on opposite sides from where they started, while the front tires move directly back.
Lastly, all-wheel drive vehicles will rotate their tires with a double cross method. Front tires move back and exchange sides, and back tires are replaced forward, also crossing which side of the car they originally were on. This maintains an even wear on all four tires as wheels all supply their own torque to each corner of the vehicle. So long as this is done on a scheduled basis, all four tires should require replacements at largely the same time.
Rotating your tires keeps your vehicle handling well, maximizing fuel efficiency, and uses your tires to their fullest. When was the last time you changed your tires around? Try out the suggested method that best suits your vehicle’s drivetrain and wheel size and see how many more miles you can get out of your next new pair!