How often should I rotate my tires?
Rotating your tires is a bit like exercise. It's one of those things that everyone knows they should do, but actually getting around to doing it can be a challenge. While we can't really help you with fitness motivation, we do have plenty of good reasons why you should rotate your tires every 5,000 - 8,000 miles:
Tire rotation helps maintain and optimize your vehicle’s handling and safety.
Tires are absolutely crucial to vehicle performance and safety. Maintaining your tires’ condition with rotation and other simple tire maintenance will help keep your vehicle stable, keep its handling predictable, and will facilitate safe maneuvering over the entire lifespan of your tires.
Tire rotation encourages even tire wear, so they last longer.
If tires are not rotated and properly maintained, you're likely to lose not just a few hundred miles from their lifespan, but thousands of miles. Tire life can literally be cut in half if tire rotation protocols and other basic maintenance measures are not followed.
Tire manufacturers require tire rotation to keep the tire warranty valid.
Tire manufacturers know that tire rotation is necessary to realize full tire life. Tire mileage warranties are most often set by the manufacturers with tire rotations assumed. So if you never rotate your tires and you experience premature wear as a result, the manufacturer is unlikely to honor the tread warranty. In other words, you'll be on your own with a prematurely worn set of tires, and a much more expensive tire replacement bill.
How much does it cost to rotate my tires?
Here’s the good news – not much. You can expect to pay somewhere in the neighborhood of $20-$40.
This small investment comes back to you in the form of prolonged tire life, as well as sustained vehicle safety and performance. Over the long term, the cost of intermittently rotating tires is a fraction of the money you'll have to spend buying new tires due to premature tire wear.
It's also not uncommon for tire shops to offer discounted tire rotation services for loyal customers, or throw in a free tire rotation here and there. So check with the tire shop that mounted your tires in the first place – in some cases your cost to rotate tires could be nil.
Helpful tip: Be sure to keep your tire rotation records and invoices. If you ever need to make a tire warranty claim, having these records will boost your chances of a success.
Use the tire rotation pattern for your vehicle.
Beyond just the rotation pattern, you'll need to take into account whether your tires are directional or non-directional, symmetric or asymmetric, and if the vehicle tire setup is staggered or square. If you are unsure about any of these, it’s probably a good idea to leave the job to a tire professional.
Also consider that putting your tires in the hands of a competent pro every once in a while is a wise move. Tire professionals have an eye for potential tire problems, signs of vehicle misalignment, and any number of other issues that could affect tire condition/wear and vehicle performance.
Why do I have to rotate my tires?
Tire wear is inevitable as you drive your vehicle. The focus and extent of the wear across the tire's contact patch depends on many factors, including the tire's position on the vehicle.
Consider that each vehicle axle faces different external forces. For example, the front tires on a front-wheel drive vehicle are regularly exposed to more intense forces than the back tires. So the front tires on a front-wheel drive car will typically experience accelerated wear, compared to the front tires on a rear-wheel or all-wheel drive vehicle. Rotating tires helps to equalize the wear on all four tires. If you leave the front tires in place without rotation on a front-wheel drive vehicle, they’ll wear faster than the rear tires. Left unchecked, eventually you'll have two front tires that are close to, or actually at minimum tread, and two rear tires with life remaining.
The end result is that you'll have to replace certain tires prematurely. In some cases, while some of your tires may technically have life remaining, it might not make sense to match them up with any new tires at full tread depth. And so not only are you tossing the worn tires, but also the tires with some life remaining!
Remember: Uneven tire wear can also affect the stability and handling of your vehicle. Tire rotation not only makes financial sense, but also helps to ensure your driving safety.
The final word on tire rotation...
Tire rotation helps to maintain your vehicle's performance and safety, prolongs tire life, saves you money, and keeps you in good standing with the tire manufacturer if you ever have a tire problem/warranty claim.
Check your vehicle service recommendations, but for most vehicles under normal driving circumstances the standard tire rotation interval is about every 5,000 - 8,000 miles.
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