What Does Rotating Tires Do?

Tires are often considered one of the most important safety features on your vehicle, especially when you consider they are the only parts of the car touching the ground. The purpose of regularly rotating tires is to help prolong tread life and promote more uniform tread wear for all tires on a vehicle.

Male Goodyear technician completing a tire rotation

Balancing the wear on all four tires is important because it helps equalize traction from the front to the rear of the vehicle – helping to ensure the vehicle does its best to respond to driving situations as you’d expect it to. If one end of the vehicle has more worn tires than the other, a sudden slippery situation could lead to a loss of control.

Further, keeping the wear even between all four wheels allows tires to be replaced in a complete set of four, rather than a pair of tires at a time. Doing this helps make sure the handling from the front of the car matches that of the rear. Also, tire technology will evolve over time. Being able to replace all four tires at once allows a car owner to benefit from advancements in tire technology.

Some cars, especially front-wheel-drive vehicles, will often have accelerated wear on the front tires when compared to the rear tires due to the extra weight on the front axle, combined with the extra forces involved in acceleration, braking and steering. Rotating tires on these vehicles is especially important to help maximize the life of the tire.

Rotating the tires also gives you a great chance to inspect each tire for damage, and to make sure each tire is inflated to the proper pressure.

How Often Should I Rotate My Tires?

Before rotating tires, always consult the vehicle and/or tire manufacturer for specific recommendations regarding rotation.  If no recommendations are found, Goodyear recommends rotating your tires every 3,000 – 6,000 miles to eliminate premature tire wear – potentially saving you the cost of new tires. If you’re overdue on rotating your tires, learn more about a tire rotation service.

After rotating your tires, be sure to reset your tire inflation pressures to match the vehicle tire placard. Some vehicles require different inflation pressures front to rear, so this is a very important step.

What is the Proper Tire Rotation Pattern?

The tire rotation pattern varies based on the type of car and the type of tires fitted. See below graphic for a common rotation pattern – but in general, tires will often be rotated front to rear, in some cases crossing side to side as they move front to back to help balance tire wear.

Certain cars and tires can’t use these typical rotation patterns. Some tires have a directional tread pattern, meaning they can only be mounted so they rotate in one direction. These tires should only be rotated front to back.

Some cars – especially high-performance cars – may have differently sized tires front and rear. In this case, the tires can only be rotated side to side (if they are nondirectional), never axle to axle.

Icon showing a tire rotation pattern, front to rear

Is a Tire Rotation Necessary?

Yes, in nearly all cases every car requires tire rotations. The only exception applies to cars (most commonly found on high-performance vehicles) with staggered tire sizes front to back, using directional tires which can’t be moved from one side to the other. 

Common Services Performed Together

When rotating your tires, it might be a good time to consider a wheel alignment, too. A wheel alignment adjusts the angle of the wheels relative to the chassis of your car. An improper alignment can cause uneven wear on your tires, causing them to wear more quickly and be one cause of erratic handling. Staying on a consistent schedule with essential tire maintenance, including both regular rotations and alignments, can help to minimize the effects of uneven tread wear.

Important Considerations

While Goodyear and the manufacturer of your car would always recommend that you always replace all four tires, there are times when it’s not completely practical to do so. When only replacing two tires, it’s recommended to put the two new tires on the rear of the car. This ensures the rear has more traction than the front, meaning the rear wheels are less likely to swing wide in a slippery situation. The likelihood of this situation can be lessened with proper tire rotations completed on a regular schedule.

As you’ll certainly see when browsing our site, there are many different types of tires – from all-season tires, to performance tires, to winter tires. These different tires have different performance characteristics, meaning one should never mix different types of tires on the same axle. 

Always ensure when selecting tires that you choose the appropriate size for the car. Never mix two different sized tires on the same axle.