It might come as a surprise but tyres are not less important than engine or brakes. High-quality tyres ensure safety of the driver and passengers by providing stability of the vehicle. With good tyres handling of the vehicle is much easier. That is why it is so important to choose tyres that will provide control over the vehicle and good braking in weather conditions typical for certain region. In cold and snowy countries, you should give preference to winter tyres, while in countries with warm winter drivers use all-season tyres.
Reasons for tyre rotation
Tyre rotation is important for taking a good care of tyres but unfortunately many drivers neglect it. They check oil level, engine and other important things, leaving tyres totally forgotten. It is even possible to define those vehicles, where tyre rotation is not performed. Front wheels in such vehicles usually are black from accumulated brake dust. The reason is simple – from brakes are larger that rear. As the result, 80 percent of braking are done by front brakes.
A lot of factor influence on uneven wear of tyres, including engine location, drive train, and even the condition of the road. The majority of vehicles have front-wheel drive or all-wheel-drive systems. That means that they operate in front-drive all the time. Front tyres of vehicles with front engines usually get under more load, which also leads to increase wear due to transmission and engine that are placed in front. When the driver apply the brakes, more weight shifts forward considerably contributing to the load. Powering, braking and steering functionality the wheel also influences on uneven wear of front tires. It causes additional stress on front tyres widening wear difference.
It might come as a surprise but location can affect tyres too. For instance, in Great Britain people drive on the left side of the road. If you think it does not cause any difference, you will be surprised that it does. Making more left-hand turns results in great wear of the left tyre.
Even wear of tyres has certain advantages. When all tyres wear together, you can change all of them together and there is no need to buy one tyre or a pair. Changing all four tyres allows maintain original handling balance.
As you can see, vehicle drive, placement of the engine in the vehicle as well as roads can seriously affect pattern of tyre rotation. This is the reason why tyre rotation should be on the list of a regular maintenance.
Do I need to plan tyre rotation?
Yes, tyre rotation should definitely on your to-do list. The frequency of tyre rotation as well as pattern are specified by vehicle manufacturer or mechanic. However, a lot of drivers have their tyres rotated every 6000 – 8000 miles. Even though a mechanic will help you define pattern and regularity, it is better to know the recommendations of a manufacturer. Mechanics recommend to have tyres rotate when having the oil changed. Oil change has similar mileage interval, which allows combining both routines.
Tyre rotation patterns
Tyre rotation means moving tyre from one position to another to ensure even wear. The Tyre and Rim Association has defined three main patters of tyre rotation that are suitable for most vehicles.
- It is necessary to rotate tyres in a forward cross pattern or the alternative X pattern on front – wheel drive vehicles.
- Tyres are rotated in a rearward cross pattern or the same X pattern on rear-wheel drive vehicles. This pattern is also suitable for vehicles with four-wheel drive.
However, performance of modern tyres and wheels has changed and two more patterns of tyre rotations have occurred.
- The first pattern is called “Front-to-Rear”. This pattern is good for vehicles with the same size directional wheels.
- The second pattern is “Side-to-Side” and can be used for vehicles with different sized non-directional tyres and wheels on the front axle.
Sometimes it happens that none of suggested tyre rotation patterns helps eliminate uneven wear. In such case it is necessary to dismount and re-balance all tyres. Dismounting, mounting and re-balancing is needed for vehicles with different size directional tyres and wheels as well as wheel with various front and rear offsets.
Some mechanics state that there is five-tyre rotation pattern. Many vehicles have a temporary spare, which is not included into tyre rotation system. However, if a spare tyre matches four wheels and tyres on the ground, it definitely has to be included into the pattern. It is better to follow recommendations of the manufacturer regarding tyre rotation. When recommendations are not available, follow these instructions:
- Rotate tyre in a forward cross pattern on vehicles with front-wheel drive with full size matching spare.
- Rotate in a rearward cross pattern on vehicles with rear-wheel and four-wheel drive with full size matching.
Tyre rotation of winter tyres
Winter tyres, especially studded, are a real help for drivers living in countries with harsh winters and a lot of snow. Studded tyres protect the driver and passengers due to increasing handling of the vehicle. However, these tyres also need good care. If you want to extend lifetime of winter tyres, choose the right rotation pattern. If you want winter tyres to show a better performance during winter time, you should have them rotated on regular basis to ensure equal share of workload. Rotation of studded tyres will ensure equal wear of all four tyres in spite of additional stress and severe weather conditions.
Tyre rotation should be performed by a specialist, who knows his job well. That is why it is required to find a good mechanic, who can choose the right tyre rotation pattern. If you have your tyres rotated by one mechanic, he knows your vehicle well. It can considerably ease selection of rotation pattern. Choose a certified mechanic with considerable experience.
Tyre rotation should be performed as a regular maintenance procedure. Neglected tyres will seriously increase chances of wheel damage. Remember that taking good care of your vehicle will extend its lifetime period.