Does Rotating tires save money?

Hi everyone. We have all heard a million times that you should rotate your tires so the tread will wear evenly and you will save money. But does it really save money? If you pay $20 every 7500 miles to have your tires rotated, you will end up paying approximately $360 over the life of the car (figuring approx. 18 rotations). That is more than the cost of buying a whole extra set of tires. And that doesn’t even talk about the time you save by not having to wait at the mechanic to have your tires rotated. What does everyone think?

Buy tires from a place that offers free lifetime rotations. Rotating your tires will make them last longer and provide a higher quality ride over their lifetime.

Not rotating can be more costly. Not only can it mean less useful mileage for the tyres, but it can be less comfortable and less safe.

In my case rotating tyres is free. I do it myself, but even if I did not do it myself it would still be free because I switch out winter tyres and regular tyres twice a year so rotating them at the same time is free.

Your question is too limited. Rotating tires is just one step in proper tire care. Proper inflation and balance probably does more than rotation to save money, and correct wheel alignment is also very important. Without these other things rotating doesn’t really mean much.

I keep my tires correctly inflated, balanced, and aligned. I rotate the tires on my vehicles every 5,000 miles. I do it at home in my garage, so it doesn’t cost me anything but time. I believe this combination helps my tires last as long as possible, and that, in my opinion, saves me money.

You do raise a valid point. For anyone paying to get their tires routinely rotated, the total cost of those rotations needs to be weighed against simply buying new tires.

The need for tire rotation has been discussed numerous times on this forum. You’ll not find universal agreement on the need for it.

I tend to fall in the category of letting my front tires wear down, move my rears to the front, and install new tires on the rear. I’ll not argue that it’s right or wrong or the best way, but for my schedule, it works.

All of the above. In addition what has been said, how much is your safety worth to you. When you’re stretching that extra few miles out of the single axle set of tires that differ in tread depth dramatically from the other and spinning around before the final crunch because of handling imbalance, you can think of all the money you saved on rotations now will be spent on rehab. A fools choice.

I have to deal with it all the time; people unwilling to spend a few extra bucks on proper mooring set ups, trying to skimp on the secuurty of their $30k boats.
It’s your life and that of your loved ones guys and tires, properly maintained is no bargaining chip.

It’s not a matter of cost v convenience, it’s a matter of safety.

It also begs the questions;
What do you do if your tires are directional? Wouldn’t just a front<–>back rotation keep the one side wearing down?
What to do if your front and rear tires are not the same size(and directional)? Is it worth it to swap tires out on either side, or do you just let them go and never rotate?

Either buy your tires from a place that rotates them for free, or purchase rotation and balance service for the life of the tires when you buy the tires.

Paying $20 for each rotation is the most expensive way to get your tires rotated, and fortunately, it isn’t your only choice.

I always rotate tires on my cars that can be rotated. My BMW 540 Sport had staggered wheels and they could not be rotated. Many MB, Porsche and Audis are like this as well.

I have snow tires mounted on extra rims for my 328 (same size front and rear). I do seasonal changes myself so they get rotated twice a year. Discount Tire here in Denver provides free rotation and balance on any tires purchased from them.


I agree with Dagosa.

A major difference in tread depth from one tire to another will result in a different coefficient of friction from one tire to another. Differences in the coefficient of friction from the front axle to the rear axle can lead to some…exciting…handling characteristics, especially on wet or snowy surfaces.

Like some of the others who posted replies in this thread, I do my own rotations in the course of switching from my so-called All Season tires to my Winter tires, and then back again. So, this rotation costs me nothing. However, even if I had to pay for it, I would rotate my tires, simply because I like to be able to take curves in a “spirited” fashion without having to worry that the rear end of the car will attempt to be the front end of the car.

It might be more expensive in the long run for some people to rotate their tires, but can you really put a price on safety?

Keep in mind that some tires can be quite noisy if they’ve taken a wear pattern from one wheel and then you move them to another wheel like that.

Hi, and thank you everyone for your responses. I would like to address 2 points that people have made.

  1. “I should not spend $20 and do the tire rotations myself.”

Ok, I am a math teacher and when my child has difficulty in math, I didn’t go out and hire a math tutor, I helped him myself. Most of you are probably not math teachers and you would hire a tutor or something if you had that problem with your kids.

Now, lets look at the opposite scenario: you people are good fixing cars, therefore you rotate your own tires. The average person is not - that is why they go to an auto place to have their tires rotated. So telling me to rotate the tires myself is not really a viable solution. It is equivalent to me telling you it is not worth it to hire a math tutor, you should teach your child the algebra yourself. I understand that the average person is not able to properly teach their child algebra, just like you should understand the average person is not capable of properly rotating their tires.

  1. “Buy your tires at a place that does free tire rotation.”

That is not always a realistic option. The places in my area that have free tire rotation (Costco, BJ’S, Sears, Pep Boys, etc.) are at least a 10 mile drive and you have to sit there and wait for around 2 hours or more to have the rotation done. (and no, they don’t take appointments for a free tire rotation) In fact, I have a friend who recently told me he bought his tires and BJ’s and even though he has free tire rotations, he still has his mechanic do them for $20 becuase it is not worth his 2 hours sitting and waiting for it to be done. Most of you probably earn $20 -$30 an hour, so if you are sitting doing nothing for 2 hours, you are really spending $40 - $60.

I know there are some people who are going to be angry at what I am saying here, PLEASE, I do not mean any disrespect to anyone. I am just trying to point out that I think the 2 solutions people gave are not realistic solutions. The average person spends $20 rotating their tires, they do not do it theirselves or wait 2 hours for the free tire rotation. My original question was, is that worth it or is it just worth it monetarily to buy new tires faster.

And as to the safety factor, I am not sure how not rotating is any different in safety that if you do rotate it. The key is to change your tires when they start wearing. Yes, if you don’t rotate that will happen faster. But it should still be perfectly safe as long as you change them when the wearing starts.

  1. Those of us who graduated from high school should be able to help our children with their high school algebra homework. However, most of us are college graduates, so we are even more qualified to help our children with their math homework without hiring a tutor.

  2. Ten miles isn’t that far to go for service. Also, Goodyear allows me to make appointments for my free routine balance and rotation. Well, it isn’t free. I paid a nominal feel when I bought the tires for lifetime balancing and rotation. You appear to have ignored that recommendation of mine. If you are more discriminating in your selection of a tire retailer, you will find one that allows you to make appointments for free tire rotation. Also, I happen to know Sears will let you make an appointment.

It sounds to me like you already had your mind made up before you asked for our thoughts.

Who says you have to sit there doing nothing while waiting to get your tires rotated? Drop off the car and ride a bicycle home, or do your shopping (at BJ’s or Costco). You don’t HAVE to sit there doing nothing.

There will always be solutions that aren’t practical for everybody. Many “money people” have zero interest in mechanical things and that’s why they have lots of money. They are good at “money gathering”. Good for them.

Tire rotation keeps the tires from getting bumpy and having strange wear patterns develop. Most tires on the non-drive wheels will develop feathering and get bumpy after about 6,000 miles. The bumps can get really bad on some tires. Other cars will never produce any odd wear, but the worse cases are really spectacular.

Comfortable driving and safety are also considerations. Even money people can look at their own tires every three months or so to see how they are doing. If the tires start developing features that look different than when they were new, it could be time for rotation.

Mechanic talk can sound like blah-blah if you’re not interested in it, but money, comfort and safety can be used as motivation to encourage at least some interest. Also; I like to tell people to use their own ability to judge when something is right for them. Sometimes I’m not interested in my own cars and just “pay the man” to do the work for me while I go through the racks and “smell the new tires.” Some of this writing looks like I’ve been inhaling the Simple Green for too long. Have fun with it.

I wish I could spend only $360 for a set of tires.
Per tire the kind on my car are $129 a tire on

“So telling me to rotate the tires myself is not really a viable solution.”

I’ve read the earlier replies twice and I couldn’t find anyone suggesting you rotate your own tires. They said they rotate their own, yes, but they didn’t say you should.

“That is not always a realistic option.”

If you aren’t willing to accept ANY of the answers maybe you shouldn’t have asked the question. We get so much of that here.

“you people are good fixing cars, therefore you rotate your own tires. The average person is not - that is why they go to an auto place to have their tires rotated.”

Why should someone have to be “good at fixing cars” in order to be able to rotate tires?
The only skills that someone needs are:

The physical ability to change a flat tire. Even if you have AAA or some other road service, if you can’t figure out how to change a flat tire in a pinch, then perhaps you should not be on the road.
(Note: I am not including the elderly or handicapped people in this category)

The ability to read the sentence and the diagram in the Owner’s Manual that explain and illustrate the correct tire rotation pattern for your vehicle. Owner’s Manuals are intentionally written on an 8th grade reading level.

If a physically-fit adult with at least an 8th grade reading level can’t manage to master these two skills/tasks, I would hate to see how that person approaches something REALLY complex!

It seems to me that rotating tires only saves you money if you get a deal on 4 new tires that you don’t get on 2, at least with FWD. The front tires wear out first, then you move the rear tires to the front. I think the average wear on all 4 tires is about equal without rotating compared to rotating and changing them all at the same time.

Ok. lets be honest here, 95% of people in this world do not do tire rotations themselves, the fact that some people here seem to suggest that anyone with a high school diploma should be able to rotate tires shows that you haven’t mastered the understanding that just becuase something is easy for you to do, doesn’t mean that it is easy for everyone else in the world to do.

I am reminded of a recent incident with a coworker whose boiler broke, and her husband insisted on putting the new one in himself to save money. After 2 days of not having any hot water and running back to home depot 6 times for more parts, they finally called a plumber (who by the way had a high school degree but never went to college) who had the boiler installed within 2 hours.

I bet you that plumber thinks installing a boiler is easy and laughs that people with college degrees can’t install one.

My point is the way you determine whether most people are able to do something on their own is if they do it on their own. Most people do not rotate their own tires.

Let me try to explain my point once more.

Are you able to change a tire, such as when you experience a flat tire? If not, then you could wind up in some dicey situations, simply because it can sometimes take AAA or other road services many hours to reach some locations. Just as knowing how to use a computer is a basic job-seeking skill in today’s world, knowing how to change a tire is a basic safety-related issue for anyone who drives a car.

If you do not know how to change a tire, then you need to learn how to do it. We are not talking about replacing a boiler in your home, or a transmission or a fuel pump in your car. We are talking about something that is extremely basic. I am very serious when I say that everyone who drives a car needs to know at least how to change a tire.

Once you know how to change a tire, then–in essence–you know how to rotate tires. I can understand that many people do not want to rotate their own tires, but I cannot accept that someone who is physically fit and has the ability to read an Owner’s Manual is unable to learn how to do something like changing a tire or rotating his/her tires.