Tire rotation: important mechanic maintenance

When you choose tires, you probably start with products of the best manufacturers. No wonder. Choosing high-quality tires are important because tires provide safety of the drivers and passengers. They provide better handling and braking. However, good tires also need good care, including season change. That means using winter tires for regions with heavy snows and all-season tires for warm winters.

Reasons to rotate tires

It does not matter what tires you have because all of them require maintenance, which includes regular tire rotation. Some drivers think that tire rotation is not the most important routine. They check oil level, engine and other important things, leaving tires totally neglected. It is even possible to define those car, where tire rotation is not performed. Front wheels in such cars usually are black from accumulated brake dust. The reason is simple – from brakes are larger that rear. As the result, 80 percent of braking are done by front brakes.

Numerous factors, including engine location, drive train, and even the condition of the road, greatly contribute to uneven wear of tires. Most cars that you see on the road today have front-wheel drive or all-wheel-drive systems. That means that they operate in front-drive all the time. Front tires of cars with front engines usually get under more load, which also leads to increase wear. Why? These cars carry more load than front tires because of transmission and engine that are placed in front. When the driver apply the brakes, more weight shifts forward considerably contributing to the load. Powering, braking and steering functionality the wheel also influences on uneven wear of front tires. It causes additional stress on front tires widening wear difference.

It might surprise you but location can affect tire wear too. For example, in the United States people drive on the right side of the road. Making more right-hand turns results in greater wear of the left tire.

Even wear of tires is much better. All tires respond equally, the car can be handled and the tire cornering traction is increased. When all tires wear together, you can change all of them together and there is no need to change pairs. Changing all four tires allows maintain original handling balance.

Car drive, placement of the engine in the car as well as road condition are the factors that impact tire wear. These factors also define which tire rotation pattern should be chosen, putting tire rotation on the list of a regular procedures.

How often do I need to get tires rotated?

Information on the frequency and rotation pattern is specified in car manual. Most drivers have their tires rotated every 6000 – 8000 miles but it is better to know the recommendations of the manufacturer. Mechanics strongly recommend to get tires rotated when getting the oil changed. Oil change has similar mileage interval, which allows combining both routines. It helps save time and to an important job.

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Most spread tire rotation patterns

Let’s define what tire rotation means. Tire rotation is moving tire from one position to another to ensure even wear. The Tire and Rim Association has defined three main patters of tire rotation that are suitable for most cars.

  • It is necessary to rotate tires in a forward cross pattern or the alternative X pattern on front – wheel drive cars.
  • Tires are rotated in a rearward cross pattern or the same X pattern on rear-wheel drive cars. This pattern is also suitable for cars with four-wheel drive.

However, performance of modern tires and wheels has changed and two more patterns of tire rotations have occurred.

  • The first pattern is called “Front-to-Rear”. This pattern is good for cars with the same size directional wheels.
  • The second pattern is “Side-to-Side” and can be used for cars with different sized non-directional tires and wheels on the front axle.

It might happen that none of suggested tire rotation patterns helps eliminate uneven wear. In such case it is necessary to dismount and re-balance all tires. Dismounting, mounting and re-balancing is needed for cars with different size directional tires and wheels as well as wheel with various front and rear offsets.

Some mechanics state that there is five-tire rotation pattern. Many cars have a temporary spare, which is not included into tire rotation system. However, if a spare tire matches four wheels and tires on the ground, it definitely has to be included into the pattern. It is better to follow recommendations of the manufacturer regarding tire rotation. When recommendations are not available, follow these instructions:

  • Rotate tire in a forward cross pattern on cars with front-wheel drive with full size matching spare.
  • Rotate in a rearward cross pattern on cars with rear-wheel and four-wheel drive with full size matching.

Rotation of winter tires

Even though winter tires are manufactured from better quality rubber, they also need maintenance and rotation. Studded winter tires are a real help for drivers living in cold and snowy areas because they ensure control on a slippery road. If you want to extend lifetime of winter tires, choose the right rotation pattern. In order to achieve better performance of studded tires during winter time, studded tires should be rotated on regular basis to ensure equal share of workload. Rotation of studded tires will ensure equal wear of all four tires in spite of additional stress and severe weather conditions.

Professional mechanic help

Tire rotation should be performed by a specialist, who knows his job well. That is why it is required to find a good mechanic, who can choose the right tire rotation pattern. If you have your tires rotated by one mechanic, he knows your vehicle well. It can considerably ease selection of rotation pattern. Choose a certified mechanic with considerable experience.

Tire rotation should be performed as a regular maintenance procedure. Neglected tires will seriously increase chances of wheel damage. Remember that taking good care of your vehicle will extend its lifetime period.

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