Do You Need to Rotate Winter Tires?

Winter Tire Rotation

Rain, frost, ice, and snow—they’re all hard on your vehicle when sheltering in place. We know it’s well worth the effort of doing a few basic jobs to get your car ready to face the elements to avoid a sudden breakdown. Whether you live in the midwest or the south, taking some time to get this done before the winter could save you hundreds of dollars by prolonging the life of your tires by 10,000 miles.

With winter on the way, there are some maintenance jobs that aren’t necessary, and some that are, like getting an oil change.

We’ve compiled an expert series of mini-guides to help you prepare your car for the colder months. In this guide, we look at your tires and why rotating them should be considered essential winter car maintenance.

What Are the Benefits of Rotating Tires Before Winter?

The condition of your tire tread determines how well your car grips the road surface. When you’re driving in wet or icy conditions (both more common in winter months) and the surface is slick, the tires need the most grip—this makes sure you can change speed, brake, and stop quickly.

The law requires all of us to make sure our tires have a minimum tread of 2/32 of an inch. Failing to rotate your tires results in the tread becoming uneven, bringing you closer to the legal minimum sooner and leading to sub-optimal performance.

Winter tire rotation is recommended as it prolongs the life of your tires and leads to better performance and safer driving. What’s more, it can lead to big savings, as tire rotation cost is much lower than early tire replacement cost.

How Often Should You Rotate Your Tires?

Consult your owner’s manual for specific requirements, but as a general rule you should look to rotate your tires every 5,000-7,000 miles, or every 6 months–preferably timed so you’re rotating them before winter when you need the grip the most.

Neglecting to properly rotate your tires leaves them more vulnerable to a sudden blowout or flat tire due to a road hazard. Luckily for you, Endurance Elite provides up to $125 cover the costs for two tires per contract.

How to Rotate Your Tires at Home in 6 Simple Steps

Rotating your tires is relatively simple and can be done at home by following the steps below. Not comfortable doing it yourself? Find a certified mechanic near you to ensure you’re up to date with your maintenance.

Step 1: Identify your tire rotation requirements

Depending on which vehicle and tire type apply to you, you’ll need to follow a particular pattern for rotating your tires:

  • 4-wheel drive
    • Swap rear left with front right, and rear right with the front left, in an X pattern
  • Front-wheel drive
    • Front left goes to rear left
    • Front right goes to rear right
    • Rear left goes to the front right
    • Rear right goes to front left
  • Rear-wheel drive
    • Rear left goes to front left
    • Rear right goes to the front right
    • Front left goes to rear right
    • Front right goes to rear left
  • Uni-directional tread
    • Swap front left with rear left, and front right with the rear right

Step 2: Decide whether to include your spare tire

Should you use your spare when rotating your tires? It depends. Do you have a full-size spare tire? If you don’t, then don’t include it, as the spare isn’t designed for regular or prolonged use. If your spare is a full-size tire, then it makes sense to enter it into the rotation—just make sure you always stick to the same winter tire rotation direction each time and swap out the spare tire for another tire at the same point (e.g. always the rear-left one).

Step 3: Gather your tools

In order to perform essential maintenance at home, you need the proper tools to avoid any hiccups. Already an Endurance customer? Use your $250 discount vouchers from your Elite membership on your next trip to save on your next purchase. Log in to certified mechanic near using your phone number and password—your registered zip code—to experience savings today. Tools you’ll need:

  • Floor car jack
  • Jack stands (up to 4)
  • Lug wrench

Step 4: Prepare the car

Loosen the nuts on the wheels using the lug wrench (but not so much they could fall off) and then raise the vehicle using the car jack and stands. The more jack stands you have, the quicker the job will be, but it’s safer not to raise the whole car off the ground so we’d recommend doing two at a time, selecting the pairs you’re swapping.

Step 5: Swap out the tires

Follow the winter tire rotation pattern that applies to you and swap out the tires, placing them on the wheel mounts.

Step 6: Fix on the nuts and lower from jack

Once the tires are in place, tighten the nuts evenly, by doing the first one then the opposite one using the lug wrench. Then take care of lowering the vehicle from the jack stands. All done!

Save Thousands on Car Repairs

Don’t risk costly repairs this winter—take time now to make sure your vehicle is ready to avoid sudden breakdowns that cost thousands to fix. With an extended car warranty, you gain peace of mind all through the winter with the most comprehensive protection package on the market.

It’s easy to customize your coverage and select the Endurance warranty protection plan for your needs. Coverage options include 24/7 roadside assistance, trip interruption coverage, and substitute transportation. Plus, every Endurance protection plan comes with free Endurance Elite membership access for one year—meaning you enjoy a host of great benefits for no extra cost.

Get $250 in discount vouchers, which are perfect for spending on car maintenance accessories like jack stands or new wipers to make sure your vehicle is in tip-top shape ready for the winter months. Other benefits include key fob replacement, tire repair/replacement, and much more. For full details and a free, no-obligation quote, check out our warranty protection plan comparison here.

A Vehicle Service Contract (VSC) is often referred to as an “auto warranty” or an “extended car warranty,” but it is not a warranty. A VSC does, however, provide repair coverage for your vehicle after the manufacturer’s car warranty expires. A VSC is a contract between you and a VSC provider or administrator that states what is a covered repair and what is not. Not all vehicles qualify for coverage; Endurance does not offer VSCs in California.