Tire rotations are crucial to ensuring that you get the longest life out of the Tires you purchase. Over time, with different driving conditions, your tires are prone to uneven tire wear. Depending on your style of driving, it is wise to rotate your tires about every , roughly every other oil change. Read on to learn how to add this inexpensive and easy money saver to your mechanic-arsenal.
EditLifting the Car
- Get some jack stands. Your car comes with a jack so you can change one tire at a time, but you'll need to have the entire car off the ground to rotate your tires. The easiest and cheapest way to do this is to get a set of jack stands, which run somewhere around $30. DO NOT try to do this with multiple jacks.
- If you don't want to buy jack stands, you can use large wood blocks. Do not use cinder blocks because they can break, risking injury to you and damage to your vehicle.
- Find a level work surface. Reduce the risk of the vehicle tipping when in the air by working on a flat surface. Engage the parking brake before you start the job, and block the wheels you haven't jacked to keep the car from rolling forward or back while you work.
- If your driveway is on an incline, or if you don't have a driveway, this won't take much time and you can to complete this project in the empty corner of a big box-store parking lot.
- Remove the hubcaps and loosen the lug nuts. While your car is still on the ground, use a flathead screwdriver and remove the hubcaps so the lug nuts are exposed. Then, with the lug wrench, loosen the lug nuts holding the tire to the axle. DO NOT remove the nuts, just loosen them slightly to make removing them easier when the car is in the air.
- Upturn one of the hubcaps to use as a bowl. Place all of your lug nuts in this bowl so you don't lose or misplace any.
- Raise the car in the air. Use your jack to raise each corner of the car and then install the jack stand. Consult your owner's manual to determine the proper placement of the jack.
- Using four jack stands would be the easiest and quickest way to complete the job, but some people get rightly nervous having the entire weight of the car in the air. If you only have two jack stands, you'll have to raise and lower the car a few times with your jack, since the procedure calls for you to switch the front tires with the back tires.
- Either way, planning the pattern of the rotation is a smart idea before starting to remove any tires.
EditRotating the Tires
- Check the rotation pattern of your tires. Tires are either directional or non-directional. Directional tires have tread that goes one way, usually with grooves designed to channel water and road-grit outward to improve handling. For this reason, you can't switch driver's-side directional tires to the passenger's side, and vice versa. Non-directional tires all look the same and can be safely switched between the passenger and driver side.
- For directional tires, rotating the tires means you'll need to switch the front driver's side tire with the rear driver's side, and the front passenger's side tire with the rear passenger's side tire.
- For non-directional tires, the usual rotation pattern is to rotate the front driver's side tire to the rear passenger's side. The front passenger's side gets the rear driver's side tire, and both rear tires move straight up the car. This pattern ensures that you'll get a complete rotation of the tires after two rotations, ensuring the longest possible tire life.
- Remove the lug nuts from the first tire you've raised and remove it. Roll the tire to the new location. Keep track of the lug nuts by keeping them close to the axle from which they were removed. The threads should be uniform, but generally you'll keep them with their location on the car, not the tire.
- Rotate the tires in the correct pattern. If you've got the entire car off the ground, just move the tires to their new locations, place them on the studs, and hand-tighten the lug nuts.
- If you've only got two jack stands, and you've got them both occupied with the back of the car, say, then you'll start by removing both rear tires. Then, you'll need to move the rear driver's side tire to the front driver's side location. Jack that spot up with your jack, remove the tire, install the new tire, hand-tighten the lug nuts, and lower the jack. Then move that front tire to the rear passenger's side, etc. Continue moving around the car, rotating the tires in the proper pattern.
- Lower the car. With your jack, raise each location up off the jack stand until you can safely remove it, then lower the car. Make sure you've tightened each tire on hand-tight before you do this. You should be able to wobble the tire back and forth.
- Tighten lug nuts using the star pattern. Most cars have 4 or 5 lug nuts. When the car is lowered completely, tighten the lug nuts with your lug wrench by tightening one nut, plus a quarter-turn, then the nut directly across from it, then back to the nut next to the first, etc.
- If you have one, you can now use a torque wrench to finalize tightening lug nuts to spec. For most cars it is somewhere between lbs. For trucks, lbs.
- Place hubcaps back on the wheels by replacing the lug nuts. Check the air pressure in your tires and add some air if necessary.
- This would be a great opportunity to clean your rims, wheel wells, and inspect the tires for any unseen flaws or punctures. Also take time to inspect the wheel well area and even clean away debris from any brake cooling equipment.
- Many repair shops use pneumatic impact wrenches to remove or install lug nuts on your vehicle. These are designed to limit the amount of torque placed on the lug nuts or studs. A very small percentage of these shops do not follow the guidelines when tightening lugs and use too much torque. Over-tightening the lugs makes it extremely difficult for an average sized and weight person to remove them.
- When changing a flat or rotating your tires, remember to "scotch" or "block" wheels that remain on the ground as to not allow for any movement of the vehicle while changing the tires. If you don't have wheel chocks, a medium rocks or pieces of flat surfaced lumber can be used, behind or in front of the opposing tire. (Changing the left rear, one would scotch or block the right front tire, etc.)
- Change a Hubcap
- Change a Tire
- Fill Air in a Car's Tires
- Get a Good Deal on Tires
- Check Air Pressure in Tires
- Check Your Car Tire Wear
EditSources and Citations
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