What Is The Proper Way To Rotate Tires?

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Tire rotation is an essential part of vehicle maintenance; all automobile owners should do it for maximum safety and tire upkeep. Most tire warranties require that your vehicle’s tires be rotated after reaching a certain mileage.

This article closely examines how to do this essential part of vehicle maintenance. We will also investigate rotation patterns and how they should be done on different types of vehicles for the best results.

Let’s jump in and learn how to correctly rotate the tires on a vehicle for safety.

Why Do You Need to Rotate Your Tires

You must rotate your vehicle’s tires even if they are properly aligned to prevent excess wear and tear. Rotating your tires will help counter their natural wear patterns in each wheel position on your car.

Additionally, by rotating the tires, you will help to prevent uneven wear on them, which will help to keep you safe. It is also true that different ways of driving will apply different torque on the front or rear tires.

It will also depend on the type of tires you have on your vehicle to determine what rotation pattern you will apply.

Different Types of Tire Rotation Patterns

There are different rotation patterns for the different tires and different drivetrains (front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive, etc.). Below is a list of tire rotation patterns that might help you decide which is ideal for your vehicle.

Front-Wheel Drive Vehicles

On front-wheel drive cars, you will use a specific rotational pattern that entails the following:

  • Take both of the front steer tires and position them on the rear axles of your car.
  • Remove the rear tires and position them on the front of the car.
  • The rear left tire should be placed in the front right position.
  • Place the rear right tire in the front left position on your vehicle.

Rear-Wheel Drive Vehicles

The following pattern is the proper tire rotation for all rear-wheel cars for the best results:

  • Take the rear wheels straight forward into the front position on your car.
  • Place the front tires in the following pattern in the rear positions on your vehicle.
    • Position the front left wheel in the right rear position on your car.
    • Place the right front wheel in the left rear position for the best results.

All-Wheel Drive Vehicles

On all-wheel drive and four-wheel drive vehicles, you can use this direction of rotation to get the best results for tire management:

  • This type of drive configuration uses the four-tire cross rotation or rearward cross pattern method for good tire upkeep.
  • The left rear axle tires will be swapped out with the right front tire.
  • Now the right rear tire moves to the left rear front position on your car.

This should be done regularly to prevent uneven tread wear on all of your tires.

Directional Tires

If your vehicle has unidirectional tires, you will use a different rotational pattern for each drivetrain. This type of tire is designed to roll in one direction and is indicated with an arrow or the words THIS SIDE OUT.

While most vehicles come with non-directional tires fitted at the factory, some have this type of tire.

  • This is an easy and straightforward wheel swap-out method.
  • With this pattern, the right-rear and the right-front tire will change positions.
  • Also, the left tire at the back will be swapped out with the front left wheel.
mechanic with floor jack removing car vehicle

Safety Tips When Rotating Your Tires

The following are some safety tips when it is time to rotate the tires on your vehicle. Follow these rules and you will be able to change the tires in the fastest and safest possible manner.

  1. You can start by inspecting the tires on your vehicle for any uneven wear or any exposed wires.
  2. If you find any of the above signs, it is better to take your vehicle to a professional for your own safety.
  3. Next, engage the parking brake on your car.
  4. If your car is an automatic one, put it in drive. If it is a manual one, put it in gear.
  5. Those vehicles with locking nuts will need a special tool to remove the wheels.
  6. Remove the wheel covers and hub cubs from the vehicle.
  7. Loosen the nuts on all four wheels but don’t remove the wheels yet.
  8. Now use your floor jack to lift up your car. Place the jack stands under the car on all four corners.
  9. Make sure you use a jack and jack stands that conform to the manufacturer’s specifications.
  10. When the vehicle is secured on the stands, remove all the nuts and wheels from their positions.
  11. If you struggle to get the nuts off, take it to a professional to avoid any damage.
  12. Remove the wheels and place them next to the new wells according to the rotation pattern you are applying.
  13. When all the wheels have been removed, you should check your car for any loose nuts or issues, especially the front suspension.
  14. Inspect the braking components to make sure they are still in good condition.
  15. If you are satisfied, place the wheels on the car and tighten the nuts with your fingers as tight as possible.
  16. Ensure all wheels are flush against the hub with no wiggle space. Once you are sure of this, you can lower the vehicle.
  17. Tighten the nuts on all four wheels in a star pattern with a torque wrench to the foot-pound specified by the manufacturer.
  18. Re-install the hubcaps or wheel covers.

Tire Maintenance Hints

Follow these hints to keep your tires in the best condition to get the most out of them and keep you safe.

  • To keep you safe, you should rotate the tires every 5,000 to 7,000 miles.
  • Always make sure you know the manufacturer’s recommendations for tire rotation.
  • After rotating the wheels, take your car for a drive and listen for any knocking or other sounds.
  • If you hear knocking sounds, re-tighten the wheels with your torque wrench.
  • After driving for about 50 miles, make sure the wheel nuts are the specified torque recommendations, even if you hear no sounds.
  • If you are not comfortable rotating the tires, it is recommended that you use a professional to do it for you.


Now that you know the rotation patterns and when and how you need to rotate your tires, you can do it safely by yourself. Always make sure that you follow factory specifications for your vehicle and work safely on your car!