The Proper Way To Rotate Tires

To correctly complete a tire rotation is crucial to making sure that you obtain the longest life from all of the tires on your vehicle. As time passes, all the various driving conditions that your tires are being exposed to, will cause uneven wearing on each of your tires. Of course, it all depends on the way that you drive your vehicle, so it is a good idea that you rotate tires approximately every 6,000 miles or so. If you are not that attentive to keeping an accurate schedule you can simply remember to rotate tires every other oil change (hopefully you will remember to change your oil regularly as well).

Learning how to rotate tires properly is not that difficult and it actually doesn’t take as much time as you may think. Furthermore, it is not very expensive and will save you costly repairs to your vehicle in the long run. Just remember the correct tire rotation pattern as well which we will show you in our step by step instructions below. Follow it carefully and you’ll be a pro at knowing how to rotate tires in the comfort of your own garage or driveway.

Tire Rotation Procedure:
1. It is very important that you get all the appropriate tools before you begin your tire rotation. Also, it is even more important that you use a safe method of raising your vehicle with either 2 tires, or better yet all 4 tires, off of the ground so that you can rotate tires properly. If you adequately prepare all of this ahead of time it will greatly make the tire rotation run more smoothly and you can finish it a lot quicker.

Tire Rotation

2. Check to make sure you are on a flat and level surface when beginning the tire rotation to lessen the risk of the vehicle sliding back or falling off the jacks when you are attempting to raise the vehicle. Before you begin raising the vehicle up into the air you need to double check if your rims have hubcaps or whether they are mag wheels without hubcaps. If they have hubcaps you can easily remove them by using the flat end of a hammer or a flat head screwdriver so that the lug nuts will be exposed. Some newer vehicles have hubcaps that are held in by the lug nuts so in this case you just need to remove the lug nuts and the hubcaps will come off allowing you to rotate tires more efficiently.

Rotate Tires

How To Rotate Tires

3. Now you need to jack your vehicle up into the air to start the tire rotation. This can be accomplished using numerous methods. The best way is to utilize a heavy duty hydraulic floor jack and 2 to 4 jack stands. If you don’t have a hydraulic floor jack you can use the manual jack that comes with your vehicle. Be warned that using the manual jack to rotate tires can be extremely tiresome, not to mention very slow.

How To Rotate Tires

4. Remove the lug nuts from each of the tires by using an air impact gun and its proper socket. If you don’t have this you can easily use a crossbar or lug nut wrench to manually remove each lug nut. Note that some vehicles may have a 4 bolt (lug nut) pattern and some may have a 5 bolt pattern. After you have removed each lug nut make sure to keep all the lug nuts together, and in close proximity to the tire being removed, so that you don’t lose them and so that you can easily access them when putting the tire back onto the vehicle.

Tire Rotation Pattern

5. Take off the tires from the studs holding them on and it is a good idea to brace yourself and use both your hands to do the job safely. Put the tire on the ground and roll them to their new location for the tire rotation. This way you don’t strain your back by trying to lift them to each location.

Tire Rotation

6. A very important fact to consider when learning how to rotate tires is that the tire rotation pattern varies depending on the drivetrain each vehicle has. One good technique is to check the sidewall of your tire and see if your tires are directional signifying that the tires only rotate in one direction when being driven on the road. You can also visually check this by looking to see if the treads point in one direction like an arrow which will usually indicate they are directional tires. Non-directional tires will simply have a regular pattern with no clear direction. You can refer to the pictures we have included to review the correct tire rotation pattern for your vehicle.

Tire Rotation Pattern

Tire Rotation Pattern

7. Now that you’ve figured out the correct tire rotation pattern for your vehicle it’s time to put the tires back onto the studs in each of their new location.

Rotate Tires

8. After sliding the tires onto the studs gently hold the tire in place with one hand while reaching for the lug nuts with the other. You can manually screw the lug nuts onto each stud with your hand to hold the wheel in place. Now pick up the air impact gun, or your lug nut wrench, and begin to screw the lug nuts in lightly but not tightly. Another important technique to remember, when tightening the lug nuts, is to use a star or cross pattern so that all of the lug nuts will have equal pressure when being screwed in.

Tire Rotation

9. Once all 4 tires have been place on the vehicle it is time to lower the car back to the ground gently by either releasing the air pressure from the hydraulic jack slowly or manually with the car jack.

Rotate Tires

10. To make sure that each of the lug nuts are screwed on tightly you will need to use a torque wrench to finalize the tightening of the lug nuts according to safety specifications. For the majority of passenger vehicles it is around 80 to 100 ft.lbs. and for larger pick-up trucks it is approximately 90 to 150 ft.lbs.

Rotate Tires

11. If you haven’t already you can now pop the hubcaps back onto the wheels by simply pressing them back on with your hands. Of course if your vehicle has hubcaps that go on with the lug nuts or if you have mag wheels then you can simply ignore this step in your tire rotation.

Tire Rotation

12. The final step of your tire rotation is to check the air pressure of each and every tire to make sure they are according to manufacturer specifications. You can check the maximum suggested pressure by looking at the sidewall of your tires after you rotate tires. Now that you have learned how to rotate tires and to do so with the correct tire rotation pattern you will have no more excuses not to do it. Save yourself some money and do it yourself!

How To Rotate Tires

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