Safety tips: Tyre rotation, an essential element missed during service
Posted Thursday, March 21 2013 at 02:00
Tyre rotation is the practice of swapping the front tyres of a car with the back tyres at regular intervals. The basic idea of tyre rotation is to extend the life of the tyres by allowing more even tread wear. Some tyre shops even include a basic tyre rotation as part of their service. The front tyres of a passenger car or truck have to perform several different tasks. In conjunction with the rear tyres, they provide traction through direct contact with the road surface. The front tyres must also respond to steering commands by altering the car’s momentum in one direction or another. The result of all this friction is a gradual loss of tread. Front tyres simply take more abuse than rear ones while the car is moving.
Prevention is better than cure
In order to prevent the front tyres from wearing out much faster than the rear ones, a periodic tyre rotation becomes necessary. Experts suggest a tyre rotation whenever 7,500 miles or 10,000 km have elapsed. Some mechanics may suggest a front-end alignment as well, since a misaligned car can create even more uneven tread wear. Car owners with some mechanical know-how and enough jacks can perform a tyre rotation at home. The trick is to keep track of each tyre’s original location and its new destination. If the spare tyre is in good repair and full-sized, it may also be included in the tyre rotation.
The rotation pattern
The rotation pattern is typically moving the back wheels to the front, and the front to the back, but crossing them when moving to the back (see picture). If the tyres are unidirectional, the rotation can only be rotated front to back on the same side of the vehicle to preserve the rotational direction of the tyres.
After your tyre rotation, if the car seems to pull in one direction or feels wobbly while in motion, the tyres may have to be professionally balanced and the front end may need alignment. On front wheel drive cars, it is especially important to rotate your tyres periodically because the front tyres wear faster than the rear. Uneven tyre tread thickness, front to rear, will give you uneven braking and poor handling, especially in the rain. If you don’t rotate the tyres, you will end up replacing them two at a time, which means you will always have uneven tread thickness. Replacing tyres in a matched set of four will keep the handling and braking traction of the car balanced.