Tire Rotation Tips
Tire rotation or rotating tires is the practice of moving automobile wheels and tires from one position on the car to another, to ensure even tire wear. Tire wear becomes uneven for any number of reasons. Even tire wear is necessary to maintain consistent vehicle performance and to extend the overall life of a set of tires.
The following causes uneven tire wear;
Uneven weight distribution between front and back. Most vehicles are heavier in the front than the rear due to the engine and transmission being located closer to the front than rear of the car.
Front wheel drive vehicles wear the front tires more due to the extra wear caused from propelling the vehicle.
Rear wheel drive vehicles wear the rear tires more.
Cornering causes front tires to wear more.
Braking especially when cornering pushes the weight to the front of the vehicle which also causes tire wear.
Bumping the sidewalls on curbs when parking wears the sidewalls.
These factors can result in the front tires wearing out at almost twice the rate of the rear tires. Therefore, frequent tire rotation is a necessity, especially for front-wheel drive vehicles.
Mechanical issues in the vehicle may also cause uneven tire wear. The wheels need to not only be aligned with each other but also with the vehicle. The wheel that is out of alignment will tend to be pulled along by the other wheels, causing uneven wear in that tire. If the alignment is such that the vehicle pulls to one side or the other, the driver will correct by steering against the pull. Essentially, the vehicle is constantly turning in this case, causing uneven tire wear. Additionally, if a tire is under or over-inflated, then it will wear differently than the other tires on the vehicle. Rotating alone will not sole this issue as the inflation needs to be corrected.
Automobile manufacturers recommend tire rotation frequency and pattern. Depending on the vehicle, tire rotation may be recommended every 8,000 miles, but a good rule is to rotate tires with every synthetic oil change or every other conventional oil change. The rotation pattern is typically moving the back wheels to the front, and the front to the back, but crossing them when moving to the back. If the tires are unidirectional, they can only be rotated front to back on the same side of the vehicle to preserve the rotational direction of the tires. Most unidirectional tires can be moved from side to side if they are remounted.
Eventually, all tires will wear out, at which time they must be replaced. Because of the high cost of tires it makes good sense to rotate them consistently and often.