Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Tire Rotation not Needed?

September in central New York,

I requested a tire rotation, but it was not performed. The shop (who mounted the tires when I bought them) tells me, “the better tires are still in front.”

The Vibe’s manual tells me to rotate them every 5K - 8K miles. I do not drive very far, only within the county where I live. If a friend is ill, I’ll waste no time driving to another state. Winters in central New York are brutal, but fun. Bring on more snow! Now, better tires in front, will mean a better car for the snow, which starts in January. The roads are usually well-plowed where I live, but I still stay home when the roads are hazardous–too many around me have no idea how to drive in snow (former residents of tropical countries).

The tires were rotated in October of last year. Should I go to a different shop, or wait until the next oil change to rotate the tires?

Thanks for the advice,

If you bought tires in pairs instead of all 4 at the same time then you probably shouldn’t rotate.

Given that, the “better tires in the front” is not the correct answer. The better tires should go in the rear to prevent the car from spinning out in slippery conditions. That means, yes, you should insist the tires be rotated.

You should be buying 4 tires at a time and rotating them regularly - every oil change is a convenient time.

1 Like

Go to a different shop. This shop did not do what you reasonably requested. And unless you misheard them, what they said was wrong (according to most tire mfgrs). The better tires should be in the rear not the front. The idea being that if good tires are in the front the car, if you start a turn which is pushing the limits of the tires, the rear ones will not keep, up causing the rear end to break and slide. Also if they can notice the front tires are ‘better’ that is a perfect reason to rotate them to balance out the wear.

+1 to both of the preceding responses.
There are two problems here, as I see it:

The OP apparently bought 2 tires from this shop, rather than 4.
The shop is not aware that all of the tire companies specify that the “better” tires go on the rear wheels of the car.

I think that the OP likely has no alternative but to go to a different tire shop or mechanic, and have the rotation performed. Then, continue to rotate the tires on schedule, and have wheel alignments done as needed in order to avoid again being in a situation where 2 tires are purchased, instead of 4.

“Go in the rear” on a Vibe?! The drive wheels are in front. I bought the tire as a pair, the other 2 are still mounted, and have a decent amount of tread on them.

For the OP’s edification:

Better tires go on back so that the rear end is less likely to break loose. Most people don’t know how to use the FWD to pull out of a skid when the rear end breaks looose, and there is always a chance that you can’t recover when the rear gets squirrelly.

1 Like

I bought only 2 tires online, and had them mounted at this shop because the other 2 tires were still good, at the time, and they’re still mounted, with plenty of tread on them. The drive wheels are in front, and the snow begins in January. I, usually stay off the roads when they are hazardous. I will look at other shops for the rotation. "Don’t need a rotation was not a good response to my request for one, I thought they wanted to earn money.


If your only concern was being able to go, this would be correct. However, we’re trying to prevent you from going into a spin and a likely crash if you lose traction in a turn, which is more important.

1 Like

Okay, this explains the “rear tire” thingy thank you jstanders. Some of these idiots, around me don’t drive well on dry pavement, this keeps me indoors when it is icy, or snowy. I am fortunate to drive a manual tranny, I love it when it snows. I also have ESC, but have not needed it, yet.

I now understand the “mount better tires on the rear.” Odd, that a tire shop didn’t know this.

I used to love it when I was younger. I had a Rabbit and it rode through snow like a champ. I used to go out for a fun drive even when I couldn’t get to work. The only time I got stuck is when I drove up on a snow drift and the bottom of the car was resting on the drift.

I lived in snow country for years and finally got to the point where the only logical thing to do was to buy a set of steel rims and four tires that were specifically for the snow season - in my case studded snows. Every year in the start of snow season I had to swap off the summer set and put on the winter tires, and the opposite in the spring. The only extra cost over time was the four rims, and the switch over labor, but it gave me good performance all year.

1 Like

My solution is to not drive at all when the roads are hazardous.

1 Like

You must live in the south. For us that live in the North…that’s not always an option.

This is no longer an issue, I just returned home from a different tire shop, and the tires were rotated, per my request.

Hmm, maybe I need to switch shops, these guys are friendly, but that, and a few dollars will buy a latte.

I thank all of you who submitted advice on this topic.

1 Like

I’m just going to throw one thing out there, a lot of assumptions were made without all the facts. To make the decision on whether to rotate or not depends on the actual tread depth of the tires. For that you need to get a tread depth gauge, a machinist ruler, or a caliper with a depth gauge and actually measure the tread depth on each tire.

The other piece of information needed is whether your Vibe is FWD or AWD. With AWD, some models need to have all tires with the tread depth within 2/32" of each other or it can damage the driveline. Your owners manual will let you know if yours is one of those vehicles.

If your Vibe is FWD and the old tires were within 2/32" of the new ones, then the first shop was right. If the old tires had more wear than that, then everyone else is right, and since the front tires will continue to wear faster than the rear, you should not rotate the tires at all from now on. Keep the best tires on the rear and when the fronts are worn out, the rear go to the front and the new tires go on the rear.

The drastic difference in wear from front to back tells us that you didn’t rotate your tires on schedule and/or that there was an alignment issue.

I am going to get a new set of 4 tires on Monday, and I can assure you that, while they are worn, all 4 are worn evenly. Each tire has 3/32 of tread remaining, and that is true across the tread of each tire. Please note that I rotate my tires every 7,500 miles, and I have a 4 wheel alignment done once each year. It makes a drastic difference in helping all 4 tires to wear to the same extent.

With all the sales rebates and buy 4 get one free you are costing yourself money buying 2 at a time. Unless it a special tire or special vehicle most of the time a better deal can be made at a local store.

If a car has ABS or ESC, does the “more tread on the back wheels” idea still hold? The front tires do much more of the braking than the rears; if the front tires have more tread (traction) , and the ABS keeps the rear wheels from locking up, aren’t we better off with the better tires in front?