CarTalk.com Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Tire rotation

Hey guys, how’s it going? My last question about synthetic oil changes generated a lot of discussion. Next maintenance question is about tires . . . do you rotate your tires? And if so, how often? How do your do it? Front to back, criss-cross? And how often do you check tire pressure, and do you run at tire maker specs or car maker specs? I generally rotate every 12,000 and run tire pressure a little over (1-2 pounds) over car maker specs listed on the door jamb of the car, my tires seem to last about 30-35k for me before I get new ones. Any comments? Rocketman

The vehicle mfr’s specification is to rotate my tires every 7,500 miles. I do it every 8,000 miles because, since I change my oil every 4,000 miles, this schedule works out to doing the rotation every other oil change. The rotation pattern is front to back, as per the mfr’s specs.

I always run 3-4 lbs over the vehicle mfr’s specs, simply because I like the improved steering response and handling, and because I don’t mind a firmer ride. This inflation pressure, coupled with a once-a-year alignment helps me to get at least 35k from my tires, but I do tend to replace them earlier than many people do. Once the tread gets down to 5/32, I replace the tires because I don’t want to increase the possibility of hydroplaning.

Don’t use the tire mfr’s specs because the inflation pressure noted on the tire’s sidewall is the maximum pressure that should be used, not the recommended pressure. If your doctor told you that he didn’t want to see your blood pressure higher than…let’s say…140/85, that doesn’t mean that this is a desirable blood pressure. It is the maximum. There is a major difference between desirable and maximum–even though many people seem to confuse the two issues when it comes to tire pressure.

Also, the tire mfr has no idea regarding what make, model, or model year vehicle its tires will be mounted on. Therefore, using the vehicle mfr’s recommended inflation pressure as your guide is what you should do. The vehicle mfr has chosen its recommended inflation pressure as a result of vehicle weight and handling characteristics, and going way over or way under their recommended pressure puts you at risk of tire problems and dangerous handling problems.

I rotate according to the instructions in my owner’s manual. I’d imagine that the rotation cost will roughly balance out the extra tire life, so I’m not doing it to save money but instead to keep equal tread on the front and back for slightly improved handling and safety.

In your case, 12,000 miles seems a bit long to me. My understanding is that once a strong wear pattern develops in a tire, that tire can be noisy if it’s moved to another position.

As for the pressure question, as VDCdriver correctly points out, the number on the tire is the maximum value, not the recommended value, which the tire maker can’t know. If the recommended value shown on your car exceeds the maximum pressure shown on the tire, then you can’t use that tire on your car.

I rotate every spring and fall when I mount the winter tires. Just mark the stored tires and rotate them when changing. No need to pay anyone either. If you don’t have winter tires to put on, follow the owner’s manual.

I rotate at the oil change, about 7500 miles. Always criss-cross unless the tires are directional. I don’t rotate the tires on my car with different front and rear tires AND directional tread. They just stay put until they wear out. I measure tread depth (my little OCD…) across the face every time to assess wear and appropriate tire pressures.

I usually run 1-2 psi over the recommended unless the recommended is pretty high. 38 psi is my max on car and light truck tires. Part of it, for me, is feel as well as wear. If it rides like a dump truck at 38, I drop to 35. If the centers are wearing faster than the sides, I drop the pressure down 2-3 psi. I raise it if the sides are wearing more.

I’m one who has never rotated my tires and it’s worked for me.

When the fronts wear out (fwd), I buy two new tires and put them on the rear (and the old rears go on the front).

Could I get a few more miles out of my tires if I rotated them? Sure. But it’s not enough to be worth my time.

What about your RWD or 4WD vehicles? Don’t you notice that the front tires have very worn and rounded shoulders and the rears are still nice and square?

I rotate every time I change the oil, 5K miles. My owners manual says back to front, not cross rotation. Rotating just keeps me from replacing the fronts sooner than the rears. My tires last 70 to 80k miles. These are Touring tires. I replaced the performance tires that came with my Camry with touring tires when the performance tires wore out in 25k miles.

I stopped rotating when I started driving to Mexico. My tire warranty expires the instant it crosses the border. The first set that were not rotated when they wore out, the shop said they were so evenly worn there was no need to align the front end. I was amazed considering the horrid roads I drove on.

Like Doc, I rotate in the spring and the fall when the winter change over occurs, regardless of mileage. My AWD cars, all four of them without exception, seemed to get better mileage out of tires then fwd. The same with 4 wd and rwd though not quite as good. IMHO, you can get away with all the other drive trains not being quite as fastidious, but fwd is the hardest by far on the set on front and require more attention.the more aggressive you drive, the sooner you should rotate.

I have not had a car with matching tires for the most of my life. So I just change them in pairs and save the money. Now I have one car with matching tires, it is a CUV (CX-9), I have rotated the tires every 10K and they are wearing decently, 50K miles on OEM and some life left. Its just a pain (esp in my back) to do this. Shops charge $10-20 to do this which is worth it, but they over-torque the hell out of the nuts. I hate other people working on my car.

“Shops charge $10-20 to do this which is worth it, but they over-torque the hell out of the nuts.”

When you need to replace those tires, do yourself a favor and go to Costco.

In addition to almost always beating everyone else’s prices for Michelins and Bridgestones, their price includes free rotation, free rebalancing, free repair, and if a tire is not repairable, they will replace it–gratis.

And, something that you and I both consider to be very important is that they always use torque wrenches to tighten the lug nuts to mfr’s specs.

I’m kind of hit an miss but try to rotate around 6000 or so plus or minus a few thousand. I go front to back to keep it simple and keep the rotation the same which I don’t think is a big deal anymore. I tend to do it myself because I like to clean the insides of the wheels then at the same time but the last time I just had the wheels balanced and had them rotated at the same time on both cars being used. If you do it yourself though its a good time to take a look at them for any issues.

I rotate my own now that Toyota doesn’t do it for free. Every 5000 front to back, with a torque wrench.

@oldtimer. That’s because you were blessed with massive pipes. The rest of we “old timers” have not aged nearly as well. Every fall I throw weight in the back of my truck, I finish off the task with a nap. So the truck goes Into the shop for a tire rotation. It saves me a weeks worth of afternoon naps. If I did it myself too, I would not need a torque wrench. At my age, I can’t over tighten water bottle.

Hey guys, how’s it going? Not bad at all!

do you rotate your tires? Yes.

how often?Every 10,000 miles or so.

How do your do it? Front to back, criss-cross?Front to back rotation, never crossing. I do not include the spare in rotation, which is the “best worn out tire” from the last time I got new tires.

And how often do you check tire pressure?I glance at the tires at least once a day…a “preflight walk around” generally on the first start of the day, looking for flat tires, broken glass, children playing underneath it, etc…before I go anywhere. A real “rough and dirty” check. I give a more thorough examination, with a gauge, roughly every fuel fill-up. I occasionally skip…but I will also check with a gauge prior to hauling heavy, so it averages 1X/fill up.

do you run at tire maker specs or car maker specs?
My “standard” setup is 40 PSI…manufacturer is 35, I think, IF running “P metric” tires. I run close to capacity of my tires frequently–GAWR is 3800# and tires [P235 75R15 (XL)] are rated for 4133#, total–so I always add air to run at whatever PSI max load is determined at (i.e. “Max Load 2100 at 44PSI”…I’m running 44 PSI!)

I WILL ALSO ADD PRESSURE IN RAIN TO INCREASE HYDROPLANING THRESHHOLD SPEED! (Hydroplaning speed is 10.35 times the square root of tire PSI…plenty of folks don’t know that, but they should.) I will drop PSI down to the upper teens to get across a soggy field without spinning a tire, too.

P.S. As an aside, I tend to do a “light check” whenever I park in front of a store with plate glass windows: use it as a mirror and check low beams/high beams/turn signals?hazards; then turn around. About the only lights I can’t check that way are the license plate lights–just not bright enough!

@VDCdriver; Yes on Costco, I might try them this time for my Mazda. They give the $70 off 4 tires once in a while for the Bridgestones. I have not had a car that needed tires in the past with high likelihood to last another 50K miles, so I am used to go with the cheaper options (pepboys). They do free rotation, but the one near to us is 15 miles away and makes me wait for 2 hours for a rotation (they are obviously not interested in the free work).

I don’t normally. I like to monitor the wear patterns, and that obfuscates their message. Besides, changing them in pairs allows me to amortize the cost.
I did on my last pair when the fronts were getting thinner than the rears because I wanted to change to a different tire, and having them all worn out at the same time let me get the max out of that set of 4.

I rotate tires myself in my driveway every 10K miles, front to back, get 40-50k miles on a set. I fill the tires to run about 33 pounds. But I don’t check the tire pressure as often as I should, so on average I expect I’m running 30 pounds.

I keep it simple, and at the same time follow the manufacturer’s recommendations

Rotation every 5000, which happens to be the interval for oil changes. I rotate front to back, which is always acceptable, providing the tires are same size front to rear

I always get about 80,000 of my tires, at which point they’re at about 4/32. Even tire wear. I inflate to the specs listed on the door jamb.

I rotate myself, and I always torque to manufacturer’s specs. Makes it easy to remove the lugs next time