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Why Do I Have to Rotate My Tires?

BY: Keith Benline
A car mechanic rolling a new tire across the shop floor.

Summer is winding down, so fall is around the corner, and families are gearing up for the new school year. And whether you’re a college student heading back to campus for the semester, a parent who drives their kids to school every day, or a daily commuter to and from work, a well-maintained car is crucial. But while staying up-to-date with your vehicle’s maintenance schedule by getting regular oil changes and so on is a great way to maintain your car, you also have to ensure you’re keeping an eye on your tires. 

For example, keeping your tires inflated to the proper tire pressure (PSI) and getting them rotated routinely will ensure they last as long as possible and help you stay safe while out on the road.

What Is a Tire Rotation?

A tire rotation is pretty much exactly as it sounds, as it’s a service that changes (aka “rotates”) your car’s tires from one position to another, most notably around every 7,500 miles, to ensure that the tread wears evenly. This service is usually part of most dealership maintenance services and is highly recommended on any car, old or new.

More specifically, however, a tire rotation, which can average around $35 to $44 or more depending on your vehicle, involves moving the front wheels to the back in an alternating pattern. For example, your front driver-side wheel will be removed and switched with the rear passenger side, so you’ll switch your front passenger side with your rear driver-side wheel. This moves the most worn tires (those in the front used for steering on a front-wheel drive vehicle) to the rear to ensure proper wear patterns. Some vehicles may not follow this pattern as their tires are directional tires, which are meant to be mounted on a specific side of the car as the tread is designed only to face a certain way. 

In these situations, you will need to switch the driver-side front with the driver-side rear and vice versa for the passenger side. Consult with your local mechanic or tire shop on whether or not you have directional tires before you get a tire rotation. Mounting these on the wrong side will produce extremely quick tire wear and poor traction.

Why Do I Have to Rotate My Car’s Tires?

There’s a reason that the old saying, “where the rubber meets the road,” exists, and it’s because tires are made of rubber. And while they are not the same type of “rubber” as older tires, tires today have a rubber tread that slowly wears down over time, so extending this time will allow you to get the most from your tires. In fact, by rotating your tires every 7,500 miles, you can save money as your tires will not wear out prematurely, costing you hundreds of dollars to replace.

In general, when you drive your car, the tire tread wears down due to the friction caused by the road surface. And while any car that’s driven or not driven will need a tire replacement at some time or another, some factors such as turning and spinning your tires can cause quicker tread wear. Instead, a tire rotation puts your wheels and tires in another position on your vehicle to ensure your tires wear evenly.

While a tire rotation is a great way to maintain your tires properly, there are other great benefits. Proper tire rotation schedules are needed for some tire warranties to remain active. This ensures that you take proper care of your tires and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations, which you can often find in your owner’s manual or the tires themselves. 

If you forget to follow your car’s recommended tire rotation pattern, you’re going to need some new tires sooner than later, as you’ll run the risk of the following issues:

  • Increased Risk of a Tire Blowout or Flat Tire
  • A Decrease in Traction in Wet & Dry Conditions
  • A Buildup of Heat in the Tires
  • Uneven Wear
  • Possible Suspension Problems

You could be setting yourself up for a costly repair later down the road by missing a simple tire rotation. But with an Advantage auto protection plan from Endurance, you can get help paying for your car’s tire rotations while getting the breakdown protection you need to help save you thousands on unexpected car repairs. You’ll even be able to save $3,500 on other essential car maintenance services, including alignment checks, engine diagnostic exams, oil and filter changes, and more, including several single-use services.

How to Rotate Tires

Rotating your tires is relatively simple if you have the correct tools to do it safely. Of course, you can always take your vehicle to a local tire shop or a trusted mechanic to have it done. You can follow the steps below to rotate your tires if you choose to do it yourself.

  1. By reading the different types below, determine which tire rotation you will perform.
  2. Loosen the lug nuts but do not entirely remove them.
  3. Safely lift your vehicle with a lift or a jack and jack stand.
  4. Remove the lug nuts completely, and then remove two wheels at a time, rotating each wheel to the new location until all wheels have been properly rotated.
  5. Reinstall lug nuts until “finger tight,” then lower the vehicle before fully tightening the lug nuts to spec.

To help give you an even better idea of what tire rotation pattern you should be following, your car’s drivetrain can help:

Rearward Cross 

Ideal for:

  • Four-Wheel Drive (4WD)
  • All-Wheel Drive (AWD),
  • Rear-Wheel Drive (RWD)

With this, rear tires are moved to the front axle and kept on the same side of the vehicle. The front tires are moved to the opposite sides of the rear axle. For example, you would move both rear tires to the front of the vehicle while taking your front right tire (aka the passenger-side tire) and rotating it to the rear left side and the front left tire (aka the driver-side tire) to the rear right side.

X-Pattern

Ideal for:

  • Front-Wheel Drive (FWD)

In this scenario, all tires are moved diagonally, which means you’ll move the front driver-side tire to the rear passenger side, and the front passenger-side tire is moved to the rear driver-side. You’ll then move the rear passenger-side tire to the front driver-side and the rear driver-side tire to the front passenger-side.

Forward Cross 

Ideal for:

  • Front-Wheel Drive (FWD)

This is the most common tire rotation pattern for front-wheel drive vehicles and is essentially the opposite of the rearward cross. Mainly, the front tires are moved directly back, while the rear tires are moved to the opposite side in the front of the vehicle, so the rear passenger-side tire would move to the driver-side front and so on.

Also, if your vehicle is equipped with a full-size spare tire, include it in your tire rotation. This will ensure your spare is at the same tread level as your tires if you ever have to use them.

Keep Your Car & Tires Protected with Endurance

Like any other kind of car maintenance, regular rotations can help you avoid unexpected tire failure by helping to extend your tire’s tread life. Plus, along with keeping you safe, keeping your tires properly rotated and inflated can be a great way to boost your car’s miles per gallon (mpg), helping save you money along the way. But if you want the most coverage for protecting your car’s tires, a vehicle protection plan from Endurance is your best choice.

Like a car’s factory warranty coverage, each Endurance plan can give you peace of mind when it comes to costly breakdowns and repairs for vital components like your engine and transmission. You’ll even enjoy tire repairs or replacements, along with perks and savings with your year’s worth of Elite Benefits that you can get just by being an Endurance customer.  

But when you have the Advantage protection plan, you will receive that comprehensive breakdown coverage you’re looking for while also saving $3,500 on your car’s essential maintenance needs, including tire rotations. You’ll even save on other tire-essential services like PSI checks and alignment checks, engine diagnostic exams, oil and filter changes, and much more at no additional charge.

Don’t wait; call our award-winning Endurance customer care team to learn more about how Advantage or any other Endurance auto protection plan can help you. By visiting the Endurance blog, you can find even more answers to your biggest automotive questions, including others on topics like expert maintenance tips, vehicle buying guides, and much more.

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