Besides checking the inflation pressure on a monthly basis, the best way to maximize tire life is to rotate the tires every 5,000 – 7,000 miles, depending on your vehicle. During rotation, each tire and wheel is removed from your vehicle and moved to a different position to ensure that all of the tires wear evenly and last longer.
A routine tire rotation is necessary due to the difference in tread wear that occurs on the front and rear tires. The front tires are used in steering, while the rear tires remain relatively stationary in terms of lateral movement. The act of steering a vehicle create scrubbing which causes more stress for the two tires that are up front, as opposed to the two in the rear. On front-wheel-drive applications, the added stress from being a drive axle means the tread will wear even faster on the front tires of these vehicles.
Regular rotation helps extend the life of your tires while improving performance. Beyond increasing the life of tires, tire rotation also contributes to other key aspects of tire safety. During a tire rotation, a qualified tire technician will check the tread depth of all four tires, check the inflation pressure, and visually inspect the tires for any issues and potential hazards.
The general rule for tire rotation is to cross the free rolling axle. So on a front-wheel drive vehicle, the front tires are rotated straight back to the rear and the rear tires are crossed to the front.
The opposite is true for a rear-wheel drive vehicle so the front tires are crossed to the back while the rear tires are rotated straight to the front.
On four-wheel drive and all-wheel drive vehicles, the recommended rotation pattern is a “Double X” so the right front and left rear tires switch positions as do the left front and right rear.
On vehicles with directional tires, the front and rear tires switch positions unless the tire is demounted from the rim so the direction can be changed.
When tires are properly inflated and rotated on a regular basis, you can expect maximum tread life, performance and value out of today’s passenger and light truck tires.