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Rotating Your Vehicle’s Tires

By R&D
Published on July 4th, 2024

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Tires are one of the most important components on the entire vehicle. After all, the whole automobile is riding on them. They are the one thing that is between every person in the vehicle and the ground. The proper care and safety of the tires can make all the difference down the road. Use these guidelines to keep your tires properly inflated and wearing evenly.

Tire rotation

Every day, people experience tire “blowouts” while driving, which can result in serious accidents. Additionally, thousands each year find themselves pulled over on the side of the road with a “flat” tire. Taking some simple steps to keep your tires in good shape can keep your vehicle running smooth, and you and those riding with you safe.

Maintaining proper tire pressure and keeping your tires rotated is essential to vehicle safety. Additionally it also improves your fuel economy, can make your tires last longer and will keep your vehicle handling better.

Pressure Points

It’s estimated that annually there are around 660 people that die, and over 33,000 people that are injured, in accidents that are related to under-inflated tires. Checking the pressure in your tires is as easy as pulling up to a “full service” service station, or, you can take two minutes and do it yourself.

Tires that are not inflated properly can lead to major problems. Under-inflation puts a lot of stress on the tires, and causes irregular wear that can eventually lead to accidents. It’s important to check your air pressure weekly because a tire may not appear to be flat, yet it could have lost up to half of its pressure.

Checking tire pressure is a simple process. Pick up a digital or analog tire gauge, available at any auto parts store, and keep it handy (in your glove box or trunk). Alternatively, most service or gas stations have gauges readily available for customers to use.

Inflating tire

Here are the guidelines to follow when checking tire pressure:

  • ALWAYS check tire pressure during the “cooler” part of the day, such as early morning. As the temperature rises during the day, air in the tires becomes hotter, causing tire pressure to increase, sometimes by several pounds-per-inch. Adjusting tire pressure with “hot” air in the tires can result in serious under-inflation when the tires return to “normal” temperature.
  • BE SURE to locate the correct air pressure specifications for your vehicle’s tires before checking tire pressure. This information can usually be found on the doorjamb of the driver’s door. If you can’t locate it there, check the glove box or the owner’s manual.
  • Remove the air valve cap and press the gauge against the valve. You should not hear a hissing sound. If you do, then you need to press more firmly.
  • The tire gauge will give you an accurate air pressure reading. Compare this reading to the correct tire pressure specifications for your vehicle to determine if air is needed. At this point you can use the air pressure hose to add air as needed. BE SURE not to over-inflate the tires.

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Get Rotating!

Now that you’ve checked the air pressure in your tires, it’s time to make sure you are up to date on having them rotated. The tire rotation process is simply moving them from one location on the vehicle to another, so that the all the wear doesn’t continue to happen in one place.

It’s similar to barbecuing on the grill. You don’t throw something on the grill and keep it in one spot the whole time. It would burn and it not cook evenly. Rotating tires is the same type of concept. If you move the tires around, they will wear more evenly and last longer, while ultimately keeping you safer.

Regular rotation of your vehicles tires can help maintain good balance, keep them from wearing unevenly or from going “bald” and having a blowout. It can also help with traction and even improve the gas mileage that your vehicle gets. With all those benefits, there’s just no excuse for not getting it done.

You can check your owner’s manual for recommendations on how often the tires should be rotated, and what patterns are recommended for your particular vehicle. However, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) a good rule of thumb is to rotate them every 5,000 miles.

Following are some important tips to keep in mind regarding rotation patterns, which can vary depending upon the type of vehicle you have:

“X” Pattern

For older (typically rear wheel drive vehicles), the “X”-pattern is the most frequently recommended sequence to follow when rotating.

X Pattern.png__PID:8105d043-44a0-4d26-b359-8cb1bbc9cb2a

“Rearward Cross” Pattern

The “rearward cross” pattern is an alternate to the “X” pattern, and is typically used for rear wheel drive and four wheel drive vehicles. The front left tire is rotated to the right rear side, and the front right tire moved to the left rear side. Then both of the rear tires are moved directly forward.

Rearward Cross Pattern.png__PID:44a0ad26-f359-4cb1-bbc9-cb2adb1b490b

“Forward Cross” Pattern

For front-wheel drive vehicles, use the “forward cross” pattern. The rear left tire is rotated to the front right side, while the rear right tire is rotated to the front left side. Then both front tires are moved directly back to the rear.

Forward Cross Pattern.png__PID:f3598cb1-bbc9-4b2a-9b1b-490b52b0e39e

“Front-to-Rear” Pattern

Some vehicles are equipped with “directional” tires, which are designed to rotate in one direction only. Directional tires usually have arrows molded in the sidewall to show the proper rotational direction. These tire need to stay on the same side of the vehicle when rotated. Use the “front-to-rear” pattern when rotating directional tires.

Front-to-Rear Pattern.png__PID:bbc9cb2a-db1b-490b-92b0-e39e7ada303f

“Side-to-Side” Pattern

Rotate tires using the “side-to-side” pattern if your vehicle is equipped with differently sized non-directional wheels and tires on the rear axle and front.

Side-to-Side Pattern.png__PID:db1b490b-52b0-439e-bada-303f8c124db4

Since different tires carry different loads, some vehicle manufacturers recommend "differential tire pressures," where the front and rear tires are inflated to different pressures. If this is the case with your vehicle, BE SURE to adjust the front and rear tire pressures accordingly when rotating your tires.

Keeping Safe

Let the air out of a balloon and it no longer stays afloat. In the same sense, tires that are not properly inflated and rotated cannot keep the vehicle safely “afloat.” Taking a few minutes to check tire pressure and rotating the tires every 5,000 miles will help prolong tire life, and can go a long way in keeping you, your family and others on the road safe.

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