Your Complete Guide to Tyre Rotation

You may have read about swapping tyres across the axles in old driving books. Today, tyre swapping is often associated with seasonal tyre rotation. Is tyre rotation actually necessary? And when should you do it?

tyre, tire fitting, remove wheel

Why is Tyre Rotation Necessary?

Swapping tyres in a crossed direction on the axles is necessary to ensure even tread wear and extend tyre life.

  • On modern front-wheel drive vehicles, the tyres on the front axle carry heavier load due to more intense braking of the front wheels and slipping of the tyres of the front axle during a sharp start or taking off downhill.
  • Tyre wear on rear-wheel-drive vehicles is more even, but it also highly depends on the driving style and operating conditions. Therefore, it is recommended to periodically bring tyres from the rear axle to the front one and vice versa. It shouldn’t be done too frequently, of course. It is enough to rotate tyres every 8-10 thousand km.

    tire fitting, tire change, wheels

    If you regularly drive with a full load at high speed, it is recommended to rotate tyres every 5-6 thousand km.

With 15-20 thousand km per year, there is no need to change the position of tyres in the middle of the summer or winter season. Just remember which tyres were on the front and rear axles, and consider it with the next seasonal rotation.

You can mark the previous position of the tyre on the sidewall with a special wax marker. Some tyres have provided locations for such marking. 

tire wear indicator, tire wear, diagram

If you notice that the tyres begin to wear out unevenly and the outer or inner side of the tread wears out faster, then it is recommended to carry out tyre rotation earlier. Remember to check along the wheel alignment.

What should be considered when Rotating Tyres?

1. The direction of the tread pattern. Many modern tyres have a directional tread pattern. When rotating the directional tyres, it is recommended to carefully follow the rolling direction, marked on the sidewall of the tyre as a special arrow, otherwise, it can impair tyre characteristics and car handling.

2. Balancing. When rotating the tyres, it is recommended to check if they are balanced and, if necessary, change the weights. Unbalanced tyres wear out faster and negatively affect the service life of the steering assembly.

3. Tyre size. Moving the tyres from one axle to the other, remember that the section width and height of the front and rear tyres may differ on some cars.

Tyres of different sizes can be found on electric cars, small city cars, and sports cars.

What Options are there for Tyre Rotation?

You can use the services of a tyre fitting or a comprehensive car service for swapping the tyres across the axles. But if the weather is good, you can simply rotate the tyres yourself. You just need to use the proper tools and correctly perform all operations: install a jack, use wheel chocks, and so on.

Tyre rotation schemes

There are several tyre rotation schemes. The most popular option is the cross scheme when the front left tyre becomes the rear right and vice versa, and the front right is mounted as the left rear and also vice versa.

This scheme is suitable for cars with any drive type.

wheel alignment diagram

For cars with rear-wheel drive and four-wheel drive, it is recommended to use a scheme in which the rear tyres become the front ones across the axle and the front tyres – the rear ones, but without changing sides.

For tyres with a directional tread pattern, the only option is to swap the front and rear tyres without changing sides.

Rotation of tyres of different sizes is of course recommended only within the same axle.

It is also possible to involve a spare tyre in the rotation scheme. As a rule, all options using five tyres are described in the car manual. But remember that on most new cars, the maximum speed and mileage of a spare tyre are significantly limited. In addition, a spare tyre, even on a car from a car dealership, is from a different manufacturer and of a different model than the four main tyres. Therefore, you should pay close attention to rotating tyres, especially when a spare tyre is involved.

Rotation of Truck Tyres

replacement of passenger wheels, a man changes a wheel

It is recommended to swap truck tyres every 40-45 thousand kilometres or/and in case of uneven tread wear. Rotation is cost-effective due to the even wear of all tyres. This is especially important in cargo transportation, where the cost per kilometre (CPC) is taken into account.

CPC = (Tire Cost + Maintenance - Carcass Price) ÷ Mileage (km).

When planning rotation, consider the following:

  • Assigning a tyre to a specific position.
  • Load for each axle.
  • Measurement of tyre tread depth.

If we consider the axle load, then in a three-axle trailer, the third axle carries the greatest load, and the second axle – the smallest. Multi-purpose truck tyres can be mounted on any axle, preferably on the steering position at first, and then rearranged on the free-rolling axle.

axle load diagram, free rolling axle, how to rearrange tires

It is necessary to periodically measure the tread depth and swap the least with the most worn tyres of the same purpose.

truck wheels

Please note that twin wheels shall also be swapped if the difference in residual depth is more than 3 mm. If the difference in the diameters of the twin wheels has reached 6 mm, then the rotation shall be made immediately.

When swapping non-directional tyres, it is recommended to change the rotation direction, if it is acceptable for a certain tyre model.

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