How to Rotate Tires
There are many drivers who are well aware of tire maintenance and safety and also know how to keep the tires in proper condition, but somehow don’t have even a rough idea of how to rotate tires. Tire rotations are a necessity which is known by all drivers, as it plays a crucial role in keeping the vehicle tires in a well-maintained condition. Tire rotation basically involves swapping the tires on the wheels, from time to time, or using spares and changing the tires periodically. This process enables the tires to have a long life, and also ensures safe driving. Whether you rotate the tires yourself or take the help of a mechanic, it is important to know the tire rotation procedure and the purpose of doing it. One may think of it as a simple procedure, but it is not just about changing tires on wheels in any manner, as it includes some specific patterns.
Many people have the misconception that all four wheels of the vehicle are pressurized or used in the same manner. However, this concept is totally wrong, as tires in the front wear out faster and more than those at the back, with each turning of the steering wheel. The pressure increases more on the front tires if the car is of a front-wheel drive type. Due to this reason, it is essential to rotate the tires many times in their life cycle, to balance tread wear and to improve their life. In some vehicles, the front and the back wheels are of different sizes, so it is possible to swap tires side to side, but not from front to back. One can refer to the owner’s manual for the period suggested for rotating tires, however, vehicle manufacturers generally recommend the tires to be rotated approximately every 5,000 to 10,000 miles.
There are many types of jacks which can be used to lift a vehicle. The jack that comes with the vehicle has to be used only for a short time, such as for replacing the punctured tire with the spare one. It is recommended not to use the jack while rotating tires. In case one uses it, one should ensure that jack stands are kept under both the front and the rear axles. Generally one would need a set of jack stands, a hydraulic jack, and a floor jack for tire rotation. A torque wrench is also an important tool needed for this procedure. One can remove the lug nuts on the wheels, using an impact wrench, but can’t use it to tighten the nuts. If that is done, it may result in over-tightening of the nuts.
Before starting the jacking process, ensure that the vehicle is in park mode, and the parking brake is applied. If you have just come from a drive, let the vehicle cool down before rotating tires. Loosen the lug nuts with the torque wrench, but don’t remove them entirely. Jack up the vehicle by using the jack. Once the vehicle is appropriately lifted up, place the jack stands, hydraulic jack, or floor jack under the wheel axles, and ensure a proper balance of the vehicle when on the stands. Now use the torque wrench to entirely take out the lug nuts.
After the vehicle is lifted up to a proper level and the lug nuts have been removed and kept in a safe place, the tires are now ready to be rotated. Remove all tires, but ensure to make a note of their respective positions, and if necessary, label them. Refer to the owner’s manual or take the help of a mechanic regarding the pattern in which the tires are to be rotated, because the procedure may differ depending on the type of the car or tire. Then put the tires back in their new positions and screw the lug nuts and tighten them properly. Use the custom jack to lower the vehicle down, off the jack stands, or hydraulic or floor jack. Lastly, ensure that the nuts are not over-tightened.
This is the basic procedure for rotating tires. The pattern in which the tires are rotated may differ from vehicle to vehicle and the type of tires the vehicle has. If you have any further doubts, you may refer to the owner’s manual or take advice from a reputed mechanic.