January 11, 2022 By Francis G. Pallarco Words and Photo by Francis G. Pallarco

Tire Rotation Explained: Getting the most from your tires

Often neglected, tire rotation is an integral part of regular vehicle maintenance procedures. Its main purpose is to promote even tire wear across the tread pattern by operating in different wheel positions of the vehicle.

When done regularly or following the car manufacturer’s recommended rotation schedule, it can promote balanced handling and traction. But let me make it clear though, even if the vehicle is properly aligned, a tire rotation will not correct tire wear problems that are due to worn mechanical parts or incorrect inflation pressures.

Tire rotation can often be done together with an oil change since the vehicle is off the ground. This is also a good time to have your tires rebalanced if you’ve been having any vibration issues and to visually inspect/check the tires for any signs of damage, uneven tread wear, tread depth and remove stones or debris stuck on the tire treads.

Just like there are different vehicle types, tire rotation also varies depending on what kind of vehicle (FWD, RWD, AWD) and the tire type (Non-Directional or Directional tires).

Rotation Pattern for Non-Directional Tires

 

Rearward Cross: This pattern is used for vehicles that use non-directional tires of the same size on either rear-wheel or four-wheel drive. The rear tires move forward on the same side of the car, while the fronts get installed on the opposite side of the rear end.

X-Pattern: This pattern is used for vehicles with non-directional tires of the same size, but can be used with any drive system configuration. The tire from the left rear gets installed at the right front, from the right rear to the left front, and the opposite for the rear.

Forward Cross: This pattern is used for vehicles with non-directional tires of the same size, but only for front-wheel drive systems. The front tires move rearward on the same side of the car, while the rears get installed on the opposite side of the front end.

Rotation Pattern for Directional Tires

Front-to-back: This pattern is used on vehicles that have directional tires that are the same size. The front tires get moved to the rear and the rear to the front, staying on the same side.

Side-to-side: This pattern is used for vehicles that have non-directional tires that are different sizes in the front versus the rear. The front left gets swapped for the front right, and the same is true for the rear.

Lastly, always refer to your vehicle owner’s manual for the recommended rotation interval and pattern. The rotation pattern varies with different makes and models, which shows the tire locations during rotation. Some vehicles have different size tires on the front and back or directional tires. This limits the locations that a tire may take on the vehicle. When in doubt, bring your vehicle to any reputable tire shop and have it done by a professional technician.

 

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