Monday, July 15, 2024 Detailed Auto Topics
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Tire rotation is a simple matter, but like many things automotive it is also loaded with mis-information. The principle is to even out tire wear, between the front and rear of the vehicle. Tires are normally rotated between 5,000 and 9,000 miles.   In theory this should provide longer tire service and there are four patterns in general use.

There are four basic patterns for tire rotation in general use

AGCO Automotive common tire rotation patterns

Each style of tire rotation purports to offer certain advantages and some vehicle manufacturers recommend one style or the other.  It is important to realize that  Tire balance is a totally separate item from rotation.  Tire rotation is considered maintenance, it should be done at suggested intervals.  Tire balance is a repair, it is only needed when there is a problem.  Tires should be properly balanced when installed new. 

Tires will remain balanced for the life of the tread, unless:

1.)  The tire is removed from the wheel

2.)  The balance weight is removed or comes off the wheel

3.)  The tire or wheel is damaged or develops a problem

In the last case the problem should be resolved rather than trying to treat the symptoms with balance.


Pattern 1, no rotation at all

AGCO Automotive rotation pattern one, no rotation

There are instances when tire rotation is not proper.  For instance on vehicles with unidirectional tires and different size tires front to rear.  In this case the tires are not rotated at all.  Other cases could include, when one tire is a different tread pattern or newer than the other three.  This can result when one tire is replaced, perhaps due to tire damage.  Mismatched tires on the front can result in the vehicle pulling in one direction.  In such a case the odd tire is placed on the rear and left there.

In cases where only two new tires are installed, they should go on the rear of the vehicle.  If the vehicle has two much newer tires on the rear, they should not be rotated. 

Pattern 2, front tires moved to rear

AGCO Automotive tire rotation patterns, front to rear

Putting the front tires on the rear and rear on the front is very common practice.  The left tires remain on the left and the right remain on the right.  This method is necessary with unidirectional tires or wheels.  That is tires and/or wheel that are different from left to right.  This method also offers the advantage of revealing on which side of the vehicle a problem may exist.

Patten 3, cross the front tires to the rear

Tire rotation, crossing front tires to the rear

Many people still believe that crossing radial tires, side to side will cause damage.  This is not true, and cross-rotation is sometimes recommended by manufacturers.  Cross-rotation can also help when tires are worn irregularly, such as being chopped in spots.  This method cannot be used with unidirectional tires.

Crossing the front tires to the rear may help with slight uneven wear on front tires.  Severe chopping and wear will not be corrected by tire rotation.

Pattern 4, cross the rear tires to front

Tire rotation, crossing rear tires to the front

A slight variation on pattern 3.  The rear tires are crossed to the front, rather than fronts crossed to rear.  Some manufactures recommend this pattern.  It can be useful when the rear tires become slightly chopped or worn in spots.  Again, severe wear or chopping will NOT be corrected by tire rotation. 

Tire rotation can also cause an increase in tire noise, especially when tires are worn or chopped.  For instance, a chopped tire from the rear may be more noisy when placed on the front.  The only true remedy for excessively worn tires is replacement.

Tire inflation and proper wheel alignment are also very important to tire life.  For more information please see the AGCO Automotive Detailed Topics on Tire Inflation, The AGCO Way and Wheel Alignment Myths.

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