Rick's Free Auto Repair Advice

Why rotate tires?

Rotate tires — why you should ignore the idiots who say don’t rotate tires

The idiots who maintain that you shouldn’t rotate your tires use a financial reason to justify their insane advice. They argue that if you add up all the tire rotation charges you would have saved by not rotating your tires, you could have paid about half the cost of a new set of tires. Let’s take a look at that faulty reasoning.

You buy a set of tires rated with a treadwear expectancy of 50,000 miles. If you rotate your tires every 5,000 miles, you’ll pay for 9 tire rotations at around $40 per rotation. That’s $360.

But you’ll also wear out your tires faster and wind up with less traction, longer stopping distances, more hydroplaning. It’s not worth it!

Now let’s discuss why tire rotation is important

Why you should rotate tires

Front and rear tires wear at different rates

Front and rear tires carry different weight and perform different duties. The front tires, for example, endure a greater proportion of the torque and friction for turning, accelerating and braking on FWD and AWD vehicles. Front tires wear faster even on rear wheel drive because they carry more weight, do all the turning and perform more of the braking.

Left and right tires can wear differently

Roads are usually higher in the center (road crown) so they shed water toward the shoulder. This can cause uneven tire wear between the left and right side tires. Carmakers try to compensate for the different side-to-side stresses when computing alignment angles, but they can’t always eliminate road crown wear. In fact, many carmakers have issued service bulletins advising dealer that road crown wear is normal and they should not adjust alignment angles to eliminate it.

Here’s an except from a recent General Motors bulletin regarding uneven tire wear that’s considered normal:

“Lead/pull concerns due to road crown are considered “Normal Operation” and are NOT a warrantable condition — the customer should be advised that this is “Normal Operation. Slight to very slight “feathering” or “edge” wear on the shoulders of tires is NOT considered unusual and should even out with a tire rotation: if the customer is concerned about a “feathering” condition of the tires. the customer could be advised to rotate the tires earlier than the next scheduled mileage —“GM Technical Service Bulletin #05-03-07-0091 dated February, 2020

If you don’t rotate your tires according to the carmakers/tire maker’s recommendations, your front tires will wear faster than your rear tires. That means you’ll have less tread depth on your front tires.

Lack of rotation results in uneven braking

Less traction means less braking ability and longer stopping distances.

Lack of rotation increases your chance of hydroplaning

Uneven tire wear and lower tread depth can increase your chances of encountering hydroplaning on wet roads.

Lack of rotation degrades the effectiveness of stability control and traction control systems

The stability and traction control systems in late model vehicles assume that you’ve rotated your tires and that the tread depths on all four tires are similar. If the tread depth varies quite bit or the wear is uneven, that can degrade the effectiveness of the traction control and stability control systems.

Lack of rotation and uneven tread depth can damage AWD systems

Carmakers state a maximum tread depth difference between front and rear tires. If you exceed the tread depth difference, you can cause damage to the AWD system, costing thousands of dollars.

Lack of rotation will simply wear out your tires faster

Lack of rotation voids your tire warranty

This one is really simple: No tire company is going to cover a treadwear warranty if you haven’t followed the recommended tire rotation schedule.

Tire rotation evens out treadwear between the front and rear tires

What rotation pattern should you use?

The following tire rotation patterns are for vehicles that have NON-DIRECTIONAL tires and where all four tires are the same size.

tire rotation patterns

Rearward Cross

The rearward cross is recommended for 4WD, AWD and RWD vehicles.


The X-Pattern is recommended for light trucks.

Forward Cross

The forward cross tire rotation pattern is recommended for FWD cars, CUVs and SUVs.

©, 2021 Rick Muscoplat

Posted on by Rick Muscoplat


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