Auto Repair

Tire Rotation: How & Why You Should Rotate Your Tires

Reading Time: 4 minutes

If you’re like most people, performing a tire rotation is one of the last things you want to be doing in your free time. We get it—but if you want your tires to last, regular rotations are a must.

Of course, you don’t want to rotate your tires more often than necessary because, well, you’ve got better things to do, right? Watching the game on the weekend certainly beats jacking up the car and lugging tires back and forth.

With that in mind, you’re probably wondering how often you’re supposed to rotate your tires.

We’re glad you asked…

tire rotation
If you want your tires to last, regular rotations are a must.

How Often Should You Rotate Your Tires?

Most experts recommend a tire rotation every 6,000 miles. So, if you follow the traditional oil change interval of every 3 months/3,000 miles, you should rotate the tires every other oil change.

How to Rotate Tires

Performing a tire rotation is easy as long as you have the proper equipment. The first step is to round up the necessary tools.

Tools Needed to Rotate Tires

The tools needed to rotate tires may vary, depending on what type of car you have.

In general, however, you’ll need:

  • Breaker bar
  • Jack and jack stands
  • Owner’s manual or repair manual
  • Ratchet, deep-well socket, and extension
  • Safety glasses
  • Torque wrench

Note: Some vehicles have wheel locks. If your car is one of them, you’ll need to locate the wheel lock key (it’s usually located in the trunk, near the spare tire) before rotating your tires.

tire rotation mechanic
Performing a tire rotation is easy as long as you have the proper equipment.

Tire Rotation Instructions

1. Put on your safety glasses.

2. Use a breaker bar and appropriate-sized deep well socket to loosen the wheel lug nuts a half-turn. Do not remove the nuts at this time.

3. Safely raise and support the vehicle using a jack and jack stands.

4. Remove the lug nuts by hand. Then, remove each wheel and tire assembly and place it next to the vehicle.

5. Rotate the tires. The suggested method of rotation will vary, depending on whether your vehicle is front-wheel, rear-wheel, or all-wheel drive. If your car has a full-size spare tire, you should include the spare in the rotation process.

Here are the rotation patterns for each vehicle type:

a. Front-wheel drive vehicle

Rotate the front tires to the rear (on the same side). Then, rotate the rear tires to the opposite sides on the front.

front wheel drive tire rotation
Front-wheel drive tire rotation pattern

b. Rear-wheel drive vehicle

Rotate the rear tires to the front (on the same side). Then, rotate the front tires to the opposite sides on the rear.

rear wheel drive tire rotation
Rear-wheel drive tire rotation pattern

c. All-wheel drive or four-wheel drive vehicle

Rotate the tires in an X-pattern. The left front tire and the right rear tire should trade places, as should the right front and left rear.

all wheel drive and four wheel drive
All-wheel drive and four-wheel drive tire rotation pattern

Note: If your car has directional tires, you will only be able to rotate the tires from front to back, and you will not be able to rotate them from side to side.

directional tire rotational pattern
Directional tire rotation pattern

6. Reinstall the wheel/tire assembly on the lug nuts.

7. Tighten the lug nuts until they’re snug using a ratchet and socket.

8. Safely remove the jack stands and lower the vehicle.

9. Use a torque wrench to tighten the lug nuts to the manufacturer’s specification (as listed in your owner’s manual or a repair manual). Tighten the lug nuts in a star pattern to ensure even pressure on the wheel and related components.

When you’re performing a rotation, you should also check the tires for wear and damage. Check out our tire inspection guide for more information.

What Does Rotating Tires Do & Why It’s Important

A tire rotation moves each wheel to a different location to change the position of the tires. Routine rotations help the tires wear more evenly to improve their lifespan. Even tire wear also helps keep the tread pattern uniform for optimum traction, handling, and braking performance. And that keeps your vehicle safer, longer.

Since a new set of rubber is so expensive, it’s smart to rotate the tires regularly.

How Much Does a Tire Rotation Cost?

You can also choose to have a professional rotate your car’s tires. On average, the service costs between $24 and $120, depending on where you take your car. In some cases, if you buy a set of tires from a shop, you’ll get free rotations with your purchase.

Most repair facilities will also discount the price of a tire rotation if you get an oil change at the same time.

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