Rotating car tires is one of those vehicle maintenance tasks that motorists tend to overlook. There are several reasons behind this, from the perception that today’s tires are tough and durable to a simple case of neglect. All car tires should be rotated regularly in order to extend their lifespan. This goes even for the tires for Toyota Prius.
However, tire rotation is critical if you want to keep your vehicle safe to drive. Regularly rotating tires can also lead to even wear, meaning tires can last longer.
Have you ever asked yourself: how often should car tires be rotated?
For most vehicles, it is recommended that tires are rotated every 5,000 to 8,000 miles, or every six months, whichever comes first. But there are other factors that can affect tire rotation interval.
All-Wheel Drive (AWD) Vehicles
It is a common misconception that since power is consistently directed to all tires which should translate to even tire wear, all-wheel-drive vehicles won’t need regular tire rotations.
The truth is, AWD cars like the Dodge Charger or Ford Fusion, tires should be rotated every 3,000 to 5,000 miles. The explanation is that tires in AWD cars have substantial differences in tread depth, putting extra strain on the drivetrain.
Front-Wheel Drive (FWD) Vehicles
In front-wheel drive vehicles, the front tires tend to wear out more quickly. This can be attributed to a host of factors. One is that the front tires apply power to the ground, which can be amplified during braking or turning. Moreover, the wear on the tires is increased by the weight of the engine.
For best results, consider rotating the tires of FWD vehicles every 7,000 miles or every six months, whichever comes first.
Rear-Wheel Drive (RWD) Vehicles
Rear-wheel drive (RWD) vehicles tend to have more balanced wear because of the division of labor among the tires. The rear tires deliver the power while the tires in the front take on all the force from the steering and turning.
Thus, you can follow the recommended tire rotation interval of 5,000-8,000 miles or every six months if you have an RWD car.
Why Rotate Car Tires?
As mentioned earlier, regular car tire rotation can extend your tire’s lifespan. Periodic tire rotation keeps the wear of rubber balanced and even. Wear is evenly spread across all tires, maximizing their tread life in the process. Some informal studies have shown that regular rotation can increase the lifespan of tires by up to 20 percent.
Regular car tire rotation can also have an impact on gas mileage. This can be attributed to the lesser amount of work required by the tires. Moreover, even wear on the rubber can help the car engine to run more efficiently. In turn, the engine will use less gas.
Gas mileage also improves when road friction and tire pulling are reduced due to regular tire rotation. While regular car rotation can cost you money, this can also be offset by the savings you get in terms of reduced vehicle repairs and delayed procurement of new tires.
Switching tires can also prevent front-end misalignment which impacts the handling of the vehicle and can cause bumpy, uncomfortable rides.
Finally, regular tire rotation can increase a vehicle’s overall performance. Excessively worn tires are prone to failure, potentially resulting in a blow-out. It can also cause you to suddenly lose control of the car.
Putting off car tire rotation may keep you from enjoying all these benefits as your tires may undergo substantial wear and tear.
Tire Rotation Patterns
There are numerous tire rotation patterns that you can use depending on factors such as type of car tires, transmission layouts, car tire size, among others.
For instance, for tires of the same size and non-directional, the rearward cross pattern is recommended. This pattern applies to all-wheel, 4-wheel, and rear-wheel drive vehicles. In this pattern, the front tires are moved to the opposing sides of the rear axle while the rear tires are moved on the same sides of the forward axle.
The X-pattern, meanwhile, is best used for front-wheel drive vehicles like sedans and lightweight trucks. In this pattern, all tires are moved diagonally meaning the front tires will be moved to the opposite rear positions while the rear tires are rotated to the opposite front positions.
The forward cross, meanwhile, is the most common tire rotation pattern for FWD vehicles. In this pattern, the front axle wheels are relocated to the back while the two tires at the back will move up diagonally to the opposite sides of the front axle.
Tire rotation patterns may also differ when there’s a full-size spare tire involved. Rotating a spare tire along with the other four tires can ensure that all your tires have even tread wear.
This is particularly important for AWD or RWD vehicles where subtle differences can cause undue strain on the drive train.
The rearward cross is typically employed on rear-wheel or RWD vehicles. In this pattern, the two rear tires are relocated to the front axle. The spare tire, meanwhile, is moved to the right side of the rear axle. The right front tire is relocated to the left side of the rear axle. The left front tire gets to be the new spare tire.
For RWD vehicles, the forward cross is the best rotation pattern in including a spare tire. In this pattern, the rear tires are placed on the opposite sides of the front axle. The spare tire is used on the right side of the rear axle while the left front axle tire is moved into the left rear position. The right front tire is then kept as the new spare tire.
In short, all car tires should be rotated regularly in order to extend their lifespan. Periodic car tire rotation can bring other benefits such as improved gas mileage, better handling, and a safer and more secure ride.
You can have tires rotated during an oil change or preventive car maintenance service, as mentioned in the guide for car owners. You can also do it by yourself. The point is, regular car tire rotation is a job that you should never overlook.