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Rotating the tires on your car is one of the most straightforward maintenance tasks there is, but the importance of doing it should not be understated. It can help your tires last longer, improve the mileage you get and will ensure your car behaves as you expect it to when you’re turning a corner or applying your brakes.
Tire rotation costs tend to vary from place to place, but in general it’s one of the cheapest repairs you can make. Rotating your tires costs between $24-120 depending on where you take your car, and some places will even do it for free if you buy a new set of tires from them.
Tire Rotation Cost Comparison
Below are some sample costs from some of the leading automotive repair chains in the country. Most places will run specials on basic repairs like tire rotation, so prices may vary from time to time.
|Labor||12 months||$74 – $90|
|Labor||12 months||$60 – $120|
|Labor||12 months||$30 – $70|
|Labor||6 Months||$15 – $99|
What Is Tire Rotation?
Tire rotation involves moving the tires to different locations on your car to ensure they wear evenly. If you left your tires in the same location for a long time on your car, the chances are that some of your tires would wear out quicker than others. The tread could also wear in an uneven manner, with the inside or outside wearing faster than the opposite side.
Uneven wear is inevitable most of the time, as the weight in a car is not distributed evenly across all four wheels. The engine is normally at the front of the vehicle, meaning there’s more weight on the front tires and they will usually wear out faster than the rear. Also, when you apply your brakes the weight of the car moves forward, which puts more pressure on the front tires. When you consider how often you apply the brakes during a routine journey you’ll understand why your front tires almost always wear out first.
If there’s an issue with the alignment of your tires then they may drag and start to wear unevenly. This can be caused by various factors, including issues with worn out suspension components which can interfere with proper weight distribution. If your tires are over inflated it can also cause them to wear in an uneven manner.
You can help avoid uneven wear on your tires by switching them to a different corner of the car on a regular basis. This will allow your tires to experience different patterns of wear over time, and they should all last a little longer.
Every car is different when it comes to the recommended amount of time between rotations, largely because of the different weight distribution and braking systems in place in different cars. If you consult your owners manual it should give you a recommended mileage for rotating your tires, with most schedules ranging between 3,000-7,000 miles. If you’re within the average mileage range for the country, a good rule of thumb is to rotate your tires every time you have your oil changed. If you’re buying new tires or having them balanced then most garages will rotate your tires for free, and some retailers even provide a lifetime of rotations if you buy a full set of tires from them.
A common question is usually around where you should move each tire when you’re rotating them. This will depend on the particular vehicle you own, and most owners manuals will provide recommendations for your car. The standard way of doing it is to move the front tires to the opposite side at the rear (so front-right would go rear-left), but the order shouldn’t be to important as long as you rotate them regularly.
Some vehicles require a particular type of rotation, such as those with unidirectional tires or those with different sizes wheels on the front and the rear. In those cases you’d simply switch the right and left tires, rather than moving the front to the back. Please note that this is different then balancing your tires but can be done at the same time if necessary.
While it may seem like a trivial repair, rotating your tires regularly could save you money and help keep your car performing at an optimal level. The tire rotation cost is much less than having to replace all of your tires.
Benefits of Tire Rotation
There are several benefits to rotating your tires regularly. It will help maintain an even tread on all four of your tires, which will prolong their lifespan, help improve gas mileage and keep the car handling in a predictable manner.
Rotating the tires regularly can also help reduce the vibrations in the car, which can help prolong the life of your suspension components. Having your tires rotated will also give your mechanic the opportunity to quickly inspect the underside of the car, helping spot the early stages of any potential problems which could be troublesome in the future.
Finally, some tire manufacturers require regular rotation to keep the warranty valid.
When Should You Have Your Tires Rotated?
If you notice uneven tire wear, this is generally a sign that your tires should be rotated. You can measure this by measuring the tread depth in your front and rear tires. If there’s a significant difference between the depth at the front and the back you should look to rotate your tires.
You should also look to measure the tread depth for the inside and the outside of your tires. If there’s more wear on one side than the other you should rotate them and have a mechanic look at the alignment as there may be an issue with the suspension.
Also be aware of any excessive noise coming from the wheels when you’re driving. Uneven wear can cause an increase in vibrations and road noise, which is most commonly felt in the steering wheel.
What Is Done During Tire Rotation?
- The parking brake should be on to prevent the car moving at all
- Loosen the lug nuts on all four wheels – don’t take them off yet, but loosening them while the car is on the ground will make removing them much easier
- Raise the car up on the jack, ideally you’ll have two jacks to allow you to raise two wheels up at the same time
- Figure out the best way of switching the tires around to the right place and start moving them around
- When you put the wheels back on, don’t fully tighten the lug nuts. Put them on as much as you can without tightening them fully
- Lower the car down from the jacks and start tightening up the lug nuts again. It’s best to tighten the nuts diagonally from one to another to prevent warping the brake rotor
How to Save Money on Tire Rotation
The easiest way to save money on tire rotation is to simply do the work yourself. It shouldn’t take much more than half an hour to do the work and it’s really straightforward, so it’s very much a repair you can make yourself.
If you suspect there’s an issue with the alignment you should take it to a mechanic to have checked, but if there’s no major issue they should be able to rotate the tires for you. It’s usually fairly inexpensive and shouldn’t take long at all.
The other way to save is to have the tires rotated when you’re buying a new tire or a new set of tires. Rotation is usually free if you’re buying a new tire, so it can be a good idea to combine the two together.