Not rotating your tires regularly will definitely shorten the life of your tires. But many question whether it is worth the bother to have this tire maintenance service performed.
Tire life is only one of the benefits of tire rotation. But tire life alone is one potentially huge benefit to having your tires rotated regularly.
Does Rotating Your Tires Really Help?Absolutely! Rotating your tires makes a substantial difference for most car owners. Rotating your tires can easily increase tire life 25%. However, some car owners may experience less improvements, closer to 10%. In some more extreme situations, it can increase it by as much as 100%.
Let’s dive into the how and why of tire rotation and tread wear.
How Much Does Rotating Tires Help?
It’s estimated that not rotating your tires regularly can shorten tire life 25% or more. This number can vary wildly from one vehicle to the other and based on driving style, among other factors.
Sports cars with more aggressive suspension settings that are harder on tires, combined with someone with an aggressive driving style can easily cut tire life expectancy in half.
Why Does Rotating Tires Help?
The reason tire rotation helps extend tire life and create a smoother ride with more balanced handling is mostly due to suspension geometry.
Most people don’t realize that their tires don’t rest perfectly aligned with the road surface. Each tire has slight adjustments to suspension settings called toe, caster, and camber. Each of these settings helps improve handling and stability, but usually comes at the cost no longer having perfectly even tread wear.
There is usually a much greater difference in these suspension angles between front tires and rear tires. This means that if your tire rotation pattern includes rotating your tires front to rear you should see a more substantial improvement in tire wear over time.
The following illustration is meant to depict the difference between how we perceive tires contact the road and how they really contact the road. It’s obviously a bit of an exaggeration but it is designed to show tread wear over time and how suspension geometry affects how tires wear.
Main Benefits Of Tire Rotation
The biggest difference that tire rotation makes is overall tire wear. As we’ve mentioned previously, keeping your tires rotated regularly can possibly more than double tire life in some more extreme circumstances.
While tire rotation can make a huge difference in tire life, it isn’t the only benefit of tire rotation.
The tire warranty provided by the tire manufacturer will almost always require you to rotate your tires before a specific amount of mileage is reached.
Tire warranties are great benefits the tire manufacturers provide and following through on the requirements is a small price to pay for the value a warranty provides in addition to the other tangible benefits.
Tire rotation can help distribute tread wear more evenly across the tread surface which will help ensure traction and handling remain balanced between all four tires.
Ultimately, tire rotation leads to a increase tire life, a smoother ride, and money savings.
Is Rotating Your Own Tires Worth It?
Whether you’re having your local tire shop rotate your tires or you do it yourself, you will achieve all of the same benefits, aside from being able to show proof of rotation to the tire manufacturer.
If you don’t have receipts for each tire rotation performed and documentation of the mileage at the time of rotation, it will be difficult to prove to the tire manufacturer that you’ve fulfilled your obligation.
Tire rotation service is often available for free from your local mechanic when other maintenance services are requested. Even if you have to pay for your tires to be rotated, the amount charged is usually very inexpensive. This makes it much more appealing to have your local shop perform the tire rotation for you.
Combined with the fact that rotating your own tires will make it difficult to prove you have had tire rotation performed according to the tire warranty requirements, I don’t recommend rotating tires yourself.
How Often Should You Rotate Your Tires?
Tire rotation frequency should follow the requirement of your tire manufacturer to maintain the tire warranty. This is typically having your tires regularly rotated every 5,000 miles or more.
I recommend you consider other vehicle maintenance services that have to be performed regularly and group as many as possible into a single visit. Aside from this making good sense, it helps to avoid procrastination on smaller maintenance tasks that you may be more willing to let slide.
What Happens When You Don’t Rotate Your Tires?
Not performing regular tire rotation will cause uneven tread wear and shorten tire life. You will also void your tire warranty which can end up costing you real money.
Tire rotation can also bring to attention problems with tire balance, alignment, or tire damage that may have occurred due to a curb strike or pothole.
If irregular tread wear isn’t evened out with regular tire rotation, you can end up with reduced traction, vibration, and excessive tire noise. Uneven wear can even lead to dangerous tire performance in inclement weather.
Tire Rotation Patterns
There are several tire rotation patterns designed for specific situations. Generally, a tire rotation pattern is picked based on which axle is driving the vehicle forward. The following are the 3 main tire rotation patterns used.
The forward cross pattern moves the rear tires forward and across to the opposite side of your car or truck. The front tires move to the rear and remain on the same side.
The forward cross is best used on front wheel drive vehicles.
The rearward cross pattern moves the front tires rearward and across to the opposite side of your car or truck. The rear tires move to the front and remain on the same side.
The rearward cross is best used on rear wheel drive and all wheel drive vehicles.
The X-pattern moves the rear tires forward and across to the opposite side of the vehicle and the front tires rearward and across to the opposite side of the car or truck.
The X-pattern is best used on all wheel drive vehicles but can be used on both front and rear wheel drive cars and trucks.
While these 3 tire rotation patterns are common, there are limitations to when they can each be used. There are also situations where modifications to them may be preferable. Be sure to read our article on tire rotation patterns to learn more about the details
Tire rotation is important to maintaining your tire warranty and to increasing the life of your tires. It will also help keep them performing their best, riding smoothly, and quiet.
It may not seem like keeping your tires regularly rotated could make that big of a difference, at first, but hopefully this article has helped you better understand how tire rotation helps and why it’s important.
Below are some links you may find helpful when learning about tires