Why Rotate Tires

Why Rotate Tires on a Car? (benefits + risks of forgetting)

Most drivers take vehicle safety very seriously. For example, if there’s something wrong with your brakes, you know you need the mechanic. However, people don’t seem to have the same concern for their tires, even though they’re a crucial part of road safety. Remember, tires are the only thing connecting your car to the road. And rotating your tires is essential for keeping them in good condition. So let’s find out, why rotate tires?

Your chances of a collision dramatically increase when your tires aren’t in good condition. That is why it is essential to know the basics of tire care and to understand when it is time to visit the mechanic.

Rotation is one crucial part of proper tire maintenance. It’s also one of the simplest tasks you can perform to maintain the quality of your tires.

Why Rotate Your Tires?

So, what exactly is tire rotation, why should you do it, and how do you do it? These are some of the most frequent questions that drop in the Tire Tim inbox.

That is why I have decided to write the following guide. Read on to find out everything you need to know about tire rotation.

Why Tire Rotation is Important

Tire rotation should be a standard part of your tire maintenance routine. It is a relatively simple task and many vehicle owners can do it at home as long as they know how and have the right tools. As you drive your car day-to-day, your vehicle’s tires don’t wear in a uniform manner. Road conditions, driving habits, the drive-train, and other factors create uneven tire wear. Rotating the tires allows you to swap tire positioning to ensure wear is even across all four tires.

By periodically rotating your tires, you can maintain a uniform tread, avoid uneven wear, and help get the maximum mileage from your tires. I get it, tires are a little boring, and the idea of rotating them regularly probably fills you full of “meh”.

Instead of taking that approach, think of how expensive tire replacement is. Rotating them can help you save money by prolonging tire life.

Why It's Important to Rotate Car Tires

How Often Should You Rotate Tires?

You should rotate car tires around every six months or 6,000 miles.

How quickly tire wear happens depends on the type of vehicle you drive. Whether it is rear-wheel, front-wheel or all-wheel will determine how quickly you can expect the tread to wear down unevenly across all four tires.

For example, a front-wheel vehicle will put most of the load on the front tires, which handle steering, braking, and power on the road.

Tire experts know that rotating your tires helps to create uniform tire wear.

Looking at a front-wheel vehicle again, tire rotation would mean swapping the front tires for the rear ones from time to time.

While there is some debate about how often you need to rotate your tires, the general consensus is around every 5,000 to 6,000 miles.

In terms of a timeframe, this would be every six months based on the 12,000 miles average drivers cover each year in the United States. You may be able to get away with avoiding a tire rotation for longer, but I advise doing it twice each year to avoid uneven tires. 

Aside from helping to maintain even tire wear, a tire rotation appointment is a good time for your mechanic to look for other common issues, such as alignment, balance, and tread depth faults.

That is another reason why rotating twice each year is advisable, helping you to stay on top of your all-around tire maintenance.

What Happens If You Do Not Rotate Car Tires?

What if you decide to extend the time to your next tire rotation? Well, without rotations, your tire treads will wear down more on some tires than others.

This will make handling and traction worse and increase your chances of being in a collision. Rotation helps you to keep the wear even and prolong the life of your tires.

Rotating Car Tires - Reasons to Do It Regularly, Risks If You Fail to Rotate Your Tires

Without tire rotation, the following ailments become likely to happen to at least one of your tires.

Heat Buildup

Cars travel at great speeds and the rubber compound of the tire is constantly creating friction with the road surface. This creates heat, but tires are designed to withstand heat up to a point.

Treads provide space for air to move through the tires and cool them. As a tire wears, the tread depth decreases and heat builds. Too much heat can cause a tire to fail.


The channels between treads also allow the tire to divert water from the driving surface to create grip in wet conditions. As the tread depth decreases, tires are more likely to slip across the wet road surface, literally skimming on top of the water.

This is known as hydroplaning and can make handling your vehicle dangerous.


If a tire remains in the same position without rotating, it will receive all the strain when you drive. Which tires this happens to depends on what kind of drive your vehicle has (front, rear, or all-wheel).

As areas of the tire become more exposed and more worn, the tread and rubber compound wear thin. When this happens, the chance of a puncture or full blowout increases massively.

How to Rotate Car Tires (Which Patterns to Use)

On paper, it is relatively easy to rotate tires. You simply move the front tires to the rear and vice versa.

It is true you can rotate tires at home, making this one of the easiest tire maintenance tasks. However, there is also something of a science behind which tires you should swap and what goes where.

Tire Rotation

There is a lot to consider and much depends on whether your vehicle is front-wheel, rear-wheel, or all-wheel drive.

Rotation Patterns for Tires

Let’s take a look at these rotation patterns.

Rearward Cross

This is the best pattern for rear-wheel, 4×4, and all-wheel drive vehicles. Knowns as the rearward cross pattern, it involves moving the rear tires to the front and keeping them on the same side as they were on the back.

The front tires move to the rear but on opposite sides to what they previously were.


Front-wheel drive vehicles benefit most from the X-Pattern, which is also perfect for sedans and light trucks. In this pattern you or the mechanic swap all the tires diagonally.

So, every tire moves to the opposite axel and also to the opposite side. For example, a front right tire would move to the rear left position.

Forward Cross

Another good solution for front-wheel vehicles is the Forward Cross. Here you move the front tires/rims to the back and keep them on the same side. Rear tires are brought forward and positioned on the opposite side to their previous position.

How Much Does a Tire Rotation Cost (and is it worth it?)

It is possible to rotate your tires at home, and it is relatively simple if you have some knowledge of tire and wheel maintenance tasks. If you take the DIY route, the cost of rotating your tires is free if you already own the necessary tools.

Reasons to Rotate Car Tires

While there are plenty of enthusiasts out there, for the majority of motorists taking a vehicle to the shop for tire rotation is the best option. You can expect professional tire rotation to cost you around $10 to $20 for each wheel, or between $40 to $80 for the whole set.

Which end of this scale you are on will depend on your location, your chosen specialist, and other factors.

It is worth noting many mechanics will bundle other tire maintenance tasks into a special deal alongside tire rotation. The most common is tire rebalancing.

I recommend asking your mechanic if they have any offers available, but not to necessarily pay for services you don’t need in the name of a “great deal.” If you pay twice as much and only need the rotation, the deal isn’t really that great.

Benefits of Tire Rotation

Tire rotation is a necessity. Here are some of the main benefits of tire rotation.

Why You Should Rotate Tires on a Car

Your Tires Will Last Longer

Rotating your tires is one of the things you can do to help keep your tires in good shape to reach their designated lifespan. Of course, as all rubber compound degrades over time, you will still need to change all your tires eventually.

Safety is Boosted If You Correctly Rotate Your Tires

You will maintain even tread, which provides better traction on the road surface. Even so, you should still regularly check your tread depth to ensure it is at legal levels (2/34” or deeper).

Better Fuel Economy

Many people don’t realize that tire quality plays a big role in fuel economy. If your tires are defective with uneven tire wear, your fuel consumption will increase by up to 3%.

You Need to Rotate Your Tires

Rotating tires is a fundamental part of tire care and one of the easiest maintenance procedures. For the average driver covering around 12,000 to 13,000 miles each year, it is best to rotate your tires twice over that mileage and timeframe.

Doing so will help to maintain your tires for longer and make them last, getting the most overall usage from them as possible.

As important as tire rotation is, there’s a right and wrong time for everything! Check out my article on when you should skip the rotation.

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