Tire rotation, that great unknown

Did you know that there is an inexpensive and simple way for your tires to last longer and have more adequate wear throughout their useful life? Something that not only saves you money, but also helps you drive more safely.


Surely when you have been to any tire workshop, you have seen among the services that provide tire rotation. This operation is a great unknown for users, despite being a very practical option both to extend the life of the tires and to achieve a more regular wear of them. Something that is also essential for your safety and to save you money. So if you are one of those who are looking for the best quality-price tires and also want to spend them in the most efficient way, you just have to discover this system, which we detail below.


What is tire rotation?

Tire rotation is a process by which the position in which the tires have been mounted is modified, so that those that were located in one part of the vehicle are located in the opposite. The most common rotation is the one that interchanges the rear tires to the front ones and vice versa, although as we will see later, there are several ways in which these rotations are carried out, according to the characteristics of the vehicle.

The main advantage that this tire rotation offers us is to achieve a more homogeneous wear throughout the entire set of tires, given that when going through different positions on the vehicle, these tires adjust to the specific state of the damping and running-in in each of these positions. Something that helps us to achieve a better use of the tires and that can lengthen the maintenance and change intervals of the wheels. And by the way, if you are curious, we are not talking about an expensive operation, since a tire rotation can cost approximately 20 to 50 euros, depending on whether those tires are rebalanced as a step prior to the rotation, which is not always it is essential.




Previous requirements

In order to rotate the tires of our vehicle, two preliminary considerations are necessary. The first is that all tires have the same measurements and dimensions. Almost all passenger cars, vans and a good part of the rest of the vehicles use the same tires on all their axles, but some vehicles, the fewest, vary the measurements or characteristics of these tires from axle to axle. In the latter, it would only be possible to execute the rotation from side to side. That is, passing the tire from the left to the right, and vice versa.

The other requirement that we must take into account to rotate tires is that all of them must have been mounted at the same time or with a difference of not too many kilometers, over 5,000 at most. The explanation for this requirement is given by wear. As the tires circulate with the vehicle, they lose part of their tread and depth. Therefore, whenever we change only the tires on one axle, it is recommended that the newer tires be mounted at the rear, and those in better condition than those already installed be mounted on the front axle. Therefore, it would not make much sense to rotate new tires with old ones or with very different patterns.


Types of existing rotations

Depending on the characteristics of the vehicle and its tires, we have three types of possible rotations for our tires. The first option is the only one that allows vehicles to run with unidirectional tires. These tires have the particularity of having a design that only allows them to be mounted in one direction, which is indicated on the sidewall. These tires can only be used to that side, so the only possible rotation is to mount the rear axle tires to the front.

The second option is the one used in 4 × 4 vehicles that do not mount directional tires. In this case, we can do a complete rotation in X, so that the rear tires pass to the front axle, also changing the mounting side. Therefore, the right front would move to the left rear position, the right rear to the left front position and so on.

The third option is the vehicle with front wheel drive, but do not mount these unidirectional tires. In this case, the rotation would be done in two phases. In a first phase, we would proceed to the rotation in X that we have already mentioned. In the second phase, after a certain mileage of the first, the rotation would be from rear to front axle and vice versa. Something that allows to squeeze even more the useful life of the wheels.




Final thoughts

As a final point to this article, we go with some considerations that must be taken into account when making this change or tire rotation. One of them has to do with the recommended mileage. Here are opinions for all tastes. Some professionals believe that it should be done every 10,000 kilometers, others every year, others every 20,000 kilometers … The truth is that the interval depends on the use, the option of the year being the most suitable for users who do more than 10,000 kilometers a year. For other users, those 10,000 km are a good reference.

Keep in mind that rotation does not solve vehicle problems, such as suspensions in poor condition, defects in the arms that hold the tires or any other that may exist. Therefore, it should be clear that the shafts are working correctly before proceeding with the rotation. In addition, once the tires are mounted on their corresponding axles, it is essential to adjust the pressures according to what the vehicle manufacturer indicates.

As a final aspect, during the rotation process it must be verified that the tires are in good condition and do not have bumps, pinches, deformations on the sidewalls or in the center of the tire, or any other problem that could be the cause of an accident. If this is the case, we must change the tires in poor condition, for safety reasons.


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