Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

To rotate or not to rotate, What are your thoughts on this?

I drive a BMW (safely) and never rotate my tires. In my owners manual the manufacture also makes this statement: Any questionable savings you might gain in tire life will be off set by loss of traction after rotating the tire. Each tire will ware differently and as it does traction actually improves. This is lost after you rotate the tire. I innitally questioned this until I did some simple math. If you take the cost of one tire and devide it by the number of advertised or expected miles you then get your approximate cost per mile. Then take the number of miles you expect to gain by rotating the tire (2000? Maybe more/less?) times your cost per mile (then multiply again x 4 for 4 tires) you find your savings over the life of the tires is very little especially if you are paying for tire rotations. Depending on what you are paying for rotations you may be actually spending more! Because I have high performance tires my cost per mile is high. This savings is even less for higher milage tires as your cost per mile is less. I know that we rotate tires because our fathers told us to and their fathers before them told them to and at $35.00 for a rotation it is good business for the shops to tell us to continue to rotate but just how much are we really saving VS just buying a new set of 4 when they get worn. Besides I know all of you appreciate the feel when you change from a worn set to new tires.

Well, for one, I don’t think I’ve bought a set of tires that didn’t come with free rotations in years (plus I just rotate my tires when I put the snows on).

However, the real advantage of rotation isn’t that the tires will necessarilly last longer overall, it’s that they’ll all wear out at a constant rate. It’s probably less of an issue on your rear-wheel drive (or RWD-based AWD) BMW, but on front wheel drive cars that front tires will often wear out twice as fast as the backs. If you’re not rotating them, this means you’ll be buying your tires 2 at a time and having 2 tires that are brand new and 2 that are at 50% or less isn’t good for handling.

Thanks for the comment / input. Actually I always buy 4 at a time when they look worn.

This argument is as old as the hills, and the prevailing wisdom changes over the years.

Here’s how I see it; They’re YOUR tires. You can rotate them if you choose, or not. It’s entirely up to you.

I’ve chosen to rotate the tires on my cars. I just did it last weekend, in my garage, for free. It takes about 20 minutes per car and I know when I’m done that the wheel nuts are correctly torqued.

Whether the tires last longer or not is something I’ll probably never know. I like the fact that rotatin evens the wear, and, like you, I always buy four tires at a time.

I rotate for exactly the reasons GreasyJack gives. I’ve not been in a RWD car in many many years - always FWD - and I like to evenly wear 4 tires at a time and replace 4 tires at a time. Rotation works for this.

I Stopped Rotating Tires Decades Ago. I Often Get Over 100,000 Miles Out Of Average Quality Tires. I Like Being Able To “Read” What The Tires Positioned At Their “Stations” Tell Me.

Alignment is very important and sometimes I have a vehicle “safety checked” and any questionable steering / suspension components replaced and a four-wheel alignment done.

Some cars just have problems wearing tires evenly and require frequent rotations and alignments. I refuse to buy cars made by manufacturers that sell cars that have that propensity. The large American branded cars I buy and operate are easy on tires and don’t have tire wear problems. They hold alignment very well.

I don’t rotate and need one or maybe two alignments in the course of 200,000 miles of driving. I will say that most of my driving would be considered rural.

BMW’s concept of loss of traction from changing a tire’s position is interesting. Regardless of what I read or hear, I’m not about to go back to rotating tires on any of family fleet of vehicles.


Your BMW and my Honda Civic aren’t built the same way, and they aren’t utilized in the same way, so why should they follow the same rules? Manufacturers tire rotation recommendations vary…for a reason.

I never rotate tires but I generally drive RWD or 4WD vehicles only. I usually get 40-50K on a set of tires. I would rotate if the rear tires looked like they were starting to wear more than the front tires but it’s never happened yet. I do check my alignment once or twice a year.

That’s my point. RWD and 4WD vehicles are designed and built differently than FWD vehicles. What works on your RWD and 4WD vehicles won’t work so well on a FWD economy car.

I haven?t rotated tires since the late 70?s.

Yes, I know the front tires wear out much faster on the front wheel drive, but I just replace the ones that are wore so I buy two sets of front and one set of rear.

I also like to ?read? my tires to see if there are any developing suspension problems. But that?s just me. I don?t think it makes that much difference, one way or the other.

My opinions are subject to change with new facts.

BMW is right, except for one thing, your tires will actually last LONGER if you don’t rotate. The tires do take a “set” (wear pattern) at each position. Each time you rotate, the tires rapidly wear down to the “set” for the new location.

When you don’t rotate very often, or not at all, you can see if the wear pattern is not right and alignment conditions can be corrected. This is something that could be overlooked with frequent tire rotations.

With FWD, I do one front to rear rotation when the front tires are a little past half worn. This way the tires wear out all at once.

For 4wd, it is necessary to continually monitor the tread depth. If the tread depth gets to be more that 2/32" difference between the front and the rear, then a front to rear rotation should be done to protect the differentials.

Never rotate side to side, tires really don’t like to have their direction of rotation changed after they get broken in.

While I’ve rotated many tires in the shops I’ve worked in, I’ve never rotated my own tires. I’m sure rotating is good, but the little bit of additional tire life just isn’t that important to me.

When the fronts wear down on our family cars (FWD), I move the rears up to the front and buy a new set for the rear. I wouldn’t recommend this approach for AWD vehicles.