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Front and rear tires wear differently, the front tires carry more than 60% of your car’s weight; consequently, front tires wear down faster than the rear ones. Also, turning wears the front tires at different rates. We generally take left turns faster than we do right turns. This puts more load on the right front tire which results in the right tire wearing faster than your left. After thousands of miles of driving, you end up with uneven tread wear.

Rotating tires equalizes these natural wear patterns by changing the positions of your tires. By rotating your tires regularly, you’ll ensure yourself a smoother and safer ride. And more importantly (for me at least) you’ll save money in the long run by extending the life of your tires.

How Often Should You Rotate Tires?

Check your car’s owner’s manual for the recommended tire rotation schedule. Most manufacturers recommend that you rotate your tires every 5,000 miles. An easy way to remember to rotate your tires is to do it whenever you change the oil on your car.

Rotation Pattern: Directional or Non-directional Tires?

Before we start loosening those lug nuts, we need to know what pattern we’re going to use to rotate our tires. The way you rotate your tires depends on a few factors, the biggest one being whether your car has directional or non-directional tires.

How to Rotate Directional Tires. Directional tires have a “one-way” tread pattern that are optimized for the direction the tires rotate on the car, so they’re specifically made for either the left or right side. The grooves are angled to optimize handling, and they also do a good job of channeling water out from under the tire on wet surfaces, reducing hydroplaning and improving wet traction.

Little arrows or triangles on the sidewall indicate which way the tire is supposed to turn.

To rotate directional tires, just switch the front right tire for the back right tire, and the front left tire for the back left tire, like this:

How to Rotate Non-directional Tires. The tread pattern on non-directional tires is designed in such a way that the tire can be mounted on the wheel for any direction of rotation. So you can switch which side the tires are on when you rotate them.

To rotate non-directional tires, use the cross pattern. For cars with rear-wheel drive, move the front tires to the opposite sides of the rear: left-front to right-rear and right-front to left-rear. The rear tires are moved straight forward. Here’s how it looks visually:

On vehicles with front-wheel drive, just do the opposite. Move the rear tires to the opposite sides of the front and move the front tires straight back.

 

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