When to Rotate Your Tires and Align Wheels
Let’s be real for a second here: is rotating your tires really all that important to your car’s maintenance? It’s such a simple task, and all four tires are always on the ground anyway, plus you tend to turn both left and right about the same number of times, so what good does it really do?
Well, yes, it is important for a variety of reasons. Rotating your tires more periodically can help you save money on maintenance costs, ensure your car continues to drive smoother, and even help you stay safer on the road. On this blog, the car repair and maintenance experts from Christian Brothers Automotive will show you how.
Why Rotate Your Tires?
Even though your tires are all in contact with the road constantly, they wear at immensely different rates. Failing to rotate them means you will wear them out unevenly, resulting in premature changes and higher operating costs. To be more precise, your front tires wear far faster than your rear ones do.
Your front tires are the ones responsible for turning your car, which means they’re going to shoulder a much greater load. Your outside front tire tends to travel the furthest in any given corner. Over time, as you turn both directions thousands of times, these tires tend to accumulate the miles far faster than the rear tires. Front wheel drive cars feel this effect far more, as they also have to support the weight of the engine.
Likewise, if your alignment is out, causing your tires to not sit perfectly flat on the ground, your tires will not wear evenly along the maximum surface area. This is when you see large stripes on tires that have worn far faster than the rest of the tread. It’s normal for the inside edges of tires to wear faster than the outside, but if the disparity is particularly extreme, you may have an alignment issue, and not rotating your tires only exacerbates the issue.
When your tires wear out too quickly, you’ll have to replace them before the others. You may have completely worn out or bald front tires, but your rears may have plenty of tread life left on them. This leads to unmatched tires, which can jeopardize handling on your vehicle and harms the resale value. It also leads to tires which are not as safe as those which are properly rotated. Balder tires have a tougher time sticking to the road, especially during wet weather, which means even the smallest amount of rain could cause you to completely lose control.
How Often Should You Rotate Your Tires?
As a general rule of thumb, it’s a good idea to rotate your tires every 5,000 miles or so. If you drive a car that uses conventional oil, this is roughly every other oil change. Likewise, it depends on your driving style and your car as well. If you tend to drive a lot of highway miles, then rotating every other oil change is probably fine. However, if your driving is mostly in-town and has a lot of start-and-stop to it, then the braking and accelerating, frequent turning, and traffic will all have a much greater impact on your tires and you’ll want to rotate more frequently.
Signs You Need Tire Alignment?
There are several ways to tell if your vehicle needs tire alignment. These signs include:
- Uneven tread wear:
- Vehicle pulling to the left or right
- Steering wheel vibrates:
Drivers will usually notice uneven tire wear before anything else. When any tire shows more wear and tear than the others, you should schedule a tire rotation. Since the front tires bare most of the engine weight, need to direct the car through turns and handle more braking, it’s completely normal for them to wear out faster. Yet another major indicator for tire rotation is increased vibration and noise as you drive. Vibrations will probably be noticeable throughout the vehicle, but they’ll be the strongest in the steering wheel. When tread is worn very unevenly, you may even notice the vehicle shaking or swaying. Usually swaying happens at lower speeds while shaking is apparent at higher speeds
About Christian Brothers Automotive
Christian Brothers Automotive has been changing the way you think about car care for over three decades. Our local auto repair shops have helped thousands of customers get the honest service their vehicle needs at prices that won’t break the bank. We believe in being there for our customers and doing the right thing, and that means offering you honest opinions and a customer service experience that simply isn’t matched anywhere else.
Schedule a maintenance service by calling Christian Brothers Automotive at today!
* Editor's note: This blog was originally published in March 2017 and has been updated and improved as of January 2019 for comprehensiveness and reader experience.