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To rotate or not rotate

I have been recommending the second method used in the U.K. for 25 years


The vehicle has 4 new tires which are rotated front to back every 6000km. On a front wheel drive vehicle having 60% of its weight on

the front and 40% weight on the rear each rotation adds 10% more traction to the front than the back. At the beginning of the rotation

the vehicle has 70% traction on the front and 30% traction on the rear. When the tires are down to 1/4 tread depth the vehicle has 750hrs of driving time left until the tires are replaced, on 4 tires which have less than 25% tread.


The tires are rotated from side to side. When the front tires need to be replaced the new tires are mounted on the back, the rear tires are moved to the front. Only 2 tires are replaced at a time. The traction problem due to the weight difference is also partially corrected and at any one time the vehicle is only driven for 250hrs on two tires which have less than 1/3 tread

To quote a statement made on a previous post, “tests by a major tire company showed no significant performance difference between tires less than 2/32 inch tread difference”. What ever alternative you propose, I would think rotating to keep the difference front to back within that range would work. I do rotate twice a year, front to back and routinely get 70K to 90k total miles between two sets, winter and summer tires and am keeping the tread difference well within that range. I will continue to do that with my awd and 4wd cars/trucks. My fwd cars were a real pain and required more frequent rotation mile wise, but I attempted the same results…

Regardless of what you propose,a dramatic difference in tread depth is not safe to me even with the better tread on the rear in fwd…why ? Because the front, “bald” tire may have much better traction on dry pavement than the rear in an emergency situation. Your alternative tire rotation, disregards that…I’ll try to keep all as close to within 2/32 " as possible.

I’m still not convinced, but am open minded…keep talking.

Then there is the method in my owner’s manual. Front two go straight to the back. Left rear goes to right front and right rear goes to left front. The method goes against urban legend which says not to cross rotate radials that have steel belts. Which is best? Who will ever know?

Keep it simple too many other important things to take care of…I try to alternate all four methods…cross fronts to rear, rears to front, cross rears to front and fronts to rear, fronts to rear and rears to front, and fronts to rears crossover, a true X. Every 5000 miles or so and have completely even wear…RAV4 AWD…done this for twenty years…secret is to just rotate tires.

D?j? vu ? I Rotate My Tires every Time I Drive, But They Have To Wait In Their Assigned Positions On The Car Until I Buy A New Pair Of Tires. Then They Change Stations.

Some people “rotate” for improved tire wear and some for a need to improve their vehicle’s inadequate traction.

We keep having this discussion about “rotating” over and over, again. I say “Go with whatever works.”

I’ve noticed that quite a few people that respond here are chasing problems involving uneven tire wear and for those folks who have cars that can’t get it together or keep it together, I guess rotation is an option.

My large domestic badged cars seem to wear tires very evenly and get at least 60,000 to 70,000 miles out of tires and often over 100,000. I frequently replace tires because they’re several years old, not because they are worn.

I live where Mother Earth seeks revenge during very long winters and my wife and I both drive commutes of 100 miles (round-trip) each day, leaving before the sun and the plows. We haven’t had problems with traction or directional stability. We’ve done this for decades. I will say traction problems were worse when we drove lighter FWD cars than we drive now, even when I was I still “rotating”.

I think this tire debate is more about particular cars than about tire rotation. Little light weight cars actually started the trend to FWD out of necessity. Take a stroll down memory lane. Ever drive a Gremlin or Chevette in slippery stuff. Those were a couple of RWD cars that forced this move. The little Chevette tried holding onto RWD after the little light car market went FWD.

Want to know which car was the best winter car we owned ? A 4,700 hundred pound, 455 c.i. , 2-door, FWD, 1976 Olds Toronado. The trunk was almost too small for a set of golf clubs, but man could it cut through winter.

Looking at complaints concerning tire wear, rotation, and balance on this site, it looks like most of the problems concern little Asian or European cars with design problems (one requiring a 15 page TSB!) or people neglecting maintenance.

If you drive a car that wears tires unevenly and it’s caused by design problems or just won’t keep an alignment or balance or the traction sucks, then rotate. To me it’s a non-issue.


The alternate method is used on fwd only in the UK. The resoning is some roads are so twisting you would have to rotate every week to keep them close to the same. On a rental car we put 1000 miles on you could see the difference when we returned it in the tires… When we had a flat on the front the garage rotated 1 rear to the front and put the new on the rear. There where large posters on the wall stating this was the proper method. In 25 years I have never rotated front to back.

That’s It ! It Must Be The Roads (?) In Over 25 Years I’ve Not Had To Be Concerned With Rotations. I Think I’d Ride A Horse If I Had To Do “Conventional” Or “Alternate” Rotation.

Just on two of our cars we drive over 50,000 miles per year, combined. We put some miles on the other cars. I would be constantly screwing around with tires. I have better things to do.


Mshugna, It Sounds Like Dance Moves That Go With, “Hey Macarena!”,“Hey Macarena!”,“M-M-Macarena” ! :slight_smile:

CSA…I get free tire rotations and I do the “tire dance” to test to see if they can follow instructions…

Mmmmmmm … How to say this nicely?

From the first time this post showed up my BS detector went off! This goes 100% against my decades of experience in tires. Plus, the reference to the UK also doesn’t do it for me. I have really good connections with Europe - and the UK in particular - and I have never heard of such a scheme.

So I did a quick internet search of UK web sites where tire (tyre) rotation is mentioned and not one of them describes a side to side pattern as being preferred - in fact, it isn’t mentioned at all!

So not only do I not believe this is common practice in the UK, I don’t think this is recommended ANYWHERE!

(Qualifier: Surfing the 'net will always turn up some web site that will advocate some outlandish position (Example: Flat Earth Society), so it should not be difficult to find a web site to support any position you care to name. I think we need a reliable source: A tyre manufacturer, or a vehicle manufacturer, or something of similar value that would add credence to the position.)

To extrapolate on CSA’s point on the relationship of FWD to tire rotation practices.

I know the doubters and proponents of “equal performance supporters” of FWD will say hogwash and remind us of their ability to get 100K plus out of a set of tires on a fwd car. But, this happens for one distinct reason. These are people without exception, whether driving front, rear or awd cars, who generally exhibit good driving habits. Constant rapid acceleration from starts, taking corners at excessive speeds, sudden changes in direction, paying little attention to air pressure and varying load requirements…none of these bad habits are in general part of their driving style.

Rotate you “brains” out and some drivers will never get the mileage from their tires as others who do less or not at all. Proper utilization of the gas peddle, brake and steering wheel has a greater affect than a lug wrench.

I learned about this method while visiting relatives in the UK and have been recomending it to customers for 25 years. Never had any complaints yet.

If I read it correctly, your alternative rotation method allows a big difference in tread depth front to rear. No one who takes handling seriously drives with mismatched tires, and tires with big tread depth wear differences are practically, mismatched. Can you get away with it ? Sure. Driven prudently you can get away with a lot. But you’ll also get no complaints from people that didn’t “survive” a crash where poor tire performance was a factor.

Yes it allows abig tread difference. Get a car with a 63/37 weight difference and 4 identical tires with 50% tread left.Put it on a skid pad Then get 2 new tires identical to the others put them on the rear and put it on a skid pad. Any conditions! Newer tires on the rear makes a difference. Google -globe and mail " how I learned to tame the ice" The rusty dodge above the article had all seasons on the front and snows on the rear. Read what Peter says about stopping. I know it sounds unlogical but you should try it.

No, you should try it and phone me from the hospital when your car spins out on dry or wet pavement with the now worse traction on the rear. You’re just playing games with specific conditions and forgetting a balanced all round approach.

I have to admit, this is the approach I’ve always used on my fwd vehicles (ie: when fronts wear out, move rears to front and install new tires on rear).

While I realize that conventional and timely rotation may provide more tire life, it’s not enough for me to lose sleep over.

On a related note, back in the 60s while working in gas stations pumping gas, I never bought tires for my car. When customers bought new tires, I would take the “best of their worn” tires and use them on my car. For about 3 years I always had four different brands and sizes of tires on my car. I don’t recommend it, but financially, it was my only option back then.

Dagosa I think you read it wrong. Try it with the new tires on the rear.Or are you refering to snows on the rear only?

We’ve had long threads full of lengthy dissertations on the subject of rotating.

Personally, if you have AWD I think it might be a good idea, if not I think it’s overrated and even tends to mask irregular wear that could be a sign of needed work.

The problem as I see it is: What advice do we give the average motorist?

NHTSA did a study and found that 25% of the cars on the road have at least 1 tire that is worn out. That’s appalling!! But it is the way it is. The average Joe doesn’t pay attention to his vehicle - not to mention tires.

I’m of the opinion that folks who post for advice to this - and other web sites - probably fall into the above category - and the best advice we can give them to keep them as safe as possible is to rotate regularly.

Those of us who pay attention to our vehicles - and in some cases do our own diagnostics and do our own work - don’t need to be reminded of the problems with worn tires. We can argue endlessly about the advantages and disadvantages of tire rotation - and we probably will again - but we need to be conscious of the bigger audience.

Point made. I guess my advice to the average motorist would be to pay better attention to their tires. The drivers of that 25% of cars would probably be unlikely to follow the advice whether it were to pay attention or to rotate their tires. Heck, I often see cars driving down the road with a tire 1/2 flat!