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Why rotate tires?

Auto and tire experts advise putting the best tires on the rear. Our MINI Cooper S wears out the soft performance tires on the front almost twice as fast as the rear tires. If we rotate, we now have the best tires on the front and, with regular rotation, we’ll end up having to replace all four tires at the same time. If we don’t rotate, we’ll have to buy only two tires (popular brand and model in stock) which we’ll mount on the rear. So why rotate tires?

Personally, I really really like have four perfectly matched tires. I want them to be all the same brand, installed at the same time, and so of the same age, and all worn evenly. So that’s why I rotate tires. Call that nuts if you will but I can’t understand why people want mismatched (age/brand/wear - whatever) on their car. They’re only the things that actually keep you on the road.

My shop teacher had 2 reasons not to rotate tires. First was the risk to warping rotors because few places take the time to torque the bolts, the second was your tires on the front wear faster than the back and you want your best tires on the front as if you had a choice of tires to fail it would be the rear as you will have a greater probability of a less serious control problem, also when you change places the tire wears faster to adjust to the new position. So when they need replacement move them to the back and new on the front for maybe another 20 k out of the back 2. lets say you get 40k rotating, and 50k on front then 20k on the rear not rotating.
His conclusion 80 k, 8 tires with rotating, vs 120k for 8 tires not rotating. Alignment at each new front tire install of course and not an awd vehicle. OK I am having trouble with the math but I think the concept is sound, having had to replace warped rotors at 16k due to tire rotation.

If your tires wear evenly and you always replace with the same brand/model/size, you can skip rotating, I do. But you’re not saving any tire replacement costs, your car is wearing out a certain amount of tire per mile, regardless. It’s not saving any rubber to skip rotating. On average, you’ll be spending the same amount per mile.

Sorry guys…your math is a little shaky on this one, incl the shop teacher’s…
Your tires wear faster when not rotated; As the diameter during wear decreases, and the number of revolutions per mile increases, causing increase in wear rate esp. fronts of fwd. Balance the wear and the revolutions remain consistent on all 4 and revolutions per mile always at a relative minimum.

Safety…having uneven tire wear to the point of varying traction can be very dangerous. Imagine loosing traction on one axle before the other. This can easily happen w/o fastidious tire rotation.

You may not notice the difference if tire tread life is not as critical on dry pavement. But, hydroplaning and slippery weather traction can cause serious problems.

So, go ahead and play the cost v rotation numbers game if you want. I’ll not put my traction at risk just to save a few bucks…which you don’t regardless.
As for the rotors…get a torque wrench and check it yourself.

Ancillary benefits include…checking tire pressure, torque lug nuts, check tire damage, clean rims, get hands dirty and impress wife with your mechanical knowledge etc.

You want the best tires on the rear if you have a significant difference in the wear on the tires. You won’t have that difference with four new tires being rotated. If your rear tires aren’t getting feathered or wearing in a lumpy manner, you can probably get away with leaving them back there. I used to do it with my cars. All cars are different and some, like yours, may have special needs that you have already noticed. Tire rules are not always set in concrete.

Front wheel drive cars wear the front tires much faster than the rears. There is more weight on the front tires, more friction and wear as they are the drive wheels, and more friction and wear as they provide about 70-80% of the stopping power. If you want to replace tires 2 at a time don’t rotate, but you’ll be making regular stops at your tire shop if you drive a lot of miles per year. With new tires on the front and worn tires on the back your car will not handle predictably in an emergency. My preference is to rotate and replace 4 tires at once.

Rear wheel drive cars wear the front and back tires more evenly since the rear tires take the friction and wear of being the drive wheels and the front tires handle most of the braking and turning. It is still a good idea to rotate since the tread near the sides of the front tires may wear more due to cornering stresses. You may not need to rotate tires on a rear wheel drive car as often but they will wear more evenly if you rotate them.

Front wheel drive cars wear the front tires much faster than the rears

My personal experience with a wide variety of cars including FWD RWD and rear engine, does not support that. in 45 years of driving I have not been able to find a pattern. I would guess part of that reason is I rotate twice a year so the don’t show wear patterns unless there is a reason.

You should be rotating your tyres more often than most because you are using high performance - low mileage tyres. They will pick up irregular wear patters much sooner than most. However you do bring up an issue.

Solution is to rotate sooner, at least the first time.  Rotating tyres sooner will almost always help even out wear.  Having mismatched tyres is not a good idea. so you want your tyres to wear out at about the same time so all four match fairly closely and any time.  

The real problem of front vs rear happens when rotation has been delayed.  

 I will add that it is a good idea to carefully inspect all four tyres as you remove them to verify that wear side to side is even and that there are not indications of unusual wear patterns that would indicate an alignment problem.

Mr. Meehan is correct. The primary reason for tire rotation it to equalize tread wear as much as possible. If there is a major difference in tread wear between the front and the rear tires at the “normal” rotation interval, that is an indication that the tires need to be rotated more often.

Yes, this is a hassle, but ideally your car should have four tires that are as close to identical as is possible. Otherwise, the differing coefficients of friction from one axle to the other will compromise handling at higher speeds.

If you don’t rotate tires, then your wet weather traction is limited by the worst tires. In that case you’ll want the best tires on the rear.

But if you rotate regularly, then both ends of the car are the same.

Overall you are safer if you rotate.

Two sets of tires same make ,model ,size, Tread wear is not exactly the same. Even if you put the tires with the lower tread level on the rear it is still good enough to provide excellent traction in all conditions. No one is saying brand new is required to be safe,there is a range of operation.

this also bears the question; what about directionals? If you’re just moving the tires back and forth on the same side, does it really matter?

I got my shop teachers advice wrong after re reading my post, the fronts wear faster than the rear, no rotate and you will replace the fronts for reasons previously stated, then when the rears need replacement move the fronts to the back and new on the front. I suppose if you were at indy control would be a problem, my case 50k new front tires, 70k front to rear and new front tires, I sold it at 110k, I am a miserly driver and remember complaining that the rear drum brakes could not make it to 100k, as they needed new shoes at 99k.

Tell me that just before the fronts are in need of replacement, you can do this…

This isn’t Indy…I’m just making hills and corners with good tires…not baldies to save a buck.

I’m with Texases on this one. If you’re getting even wear and you plan to stick with the same make & model tires there’s really no reason to rotate.

I never used to rotate my tires until I bought my 2005 tC. The first few sets that I wore out I wasn’t pleased with, so I rotated them in order to be able to replace all fur at the same time with a different brand. The ones I have now, Hankooks, I’m really happy with and plan to stay with, so I’ll let them wear out in pairs and replace them that way.

I should qualify my practice by saying that I never let tires get too near the wear bars. So I never have bald tires on one end and new tires on the other. Good tread is very, very cheap insurance, and if a $100 tire is 70% down to the wear bar then I’m only throwing away $30 in the interest of safety. If I go through one set a year I’m throwing away $120/year, a cheap investment in safety. I waste more than that on lottery tickets.

That is called driving too fast for conditions, prefer not to. Besides I am not talking about driving on unsafe tires. I remember getting tires once and the lady with threadbare tires in front of me said, “I know I could have gotten another 200 miles if I had not driven on that gravel parking lot!” Here’s your ticket!

I guess the math lesson did no good…also, even though the better tread should be on the rear, that does not mean that any big difference in tread, front to rear isn’t poor. It’s worth while if you’re not willing to make the effort to replace in pairs…but don’t kid yourself…it’s not as safe and does cost more.
Exception is, if you pay to have them rotated, I can see the $$$$$ as a total outlay as being a reason.

You can’t make the hills unless you get up a little speed …besides, Joe doesn’t think that AWD helps you take corners in slippery conditions.

when the rears need replacement move the fronts to the back and new on the front.

You either did not hear the shop teacher correctly, or your shop teacher was poorly informed.

Front wheel drive, rear wheel drive, four wheel drive or all wheel drive you always want the best tyres on the back

I know this is counter intuitive until you consider that in an emergency condition (the really important situation) you really really want the back end to stay in the back. If the back end looses grip first you end up looking where you have been because the back end just slid around. It is very difficult to control a can when you are looking where you have been.