Rotate Tires for Even Wear
Tires are vital to safety on the road, as well as getting the most performance from your vehicle. In order for tires to experience even wear and maximized mileage before they need to be replaced, you have to rotate your tires on a regular basis. Rotations are quick and easy, and most often, don't cost much. Regular tire rotations also allow for a qualified tire technician, or mechanic to have the best look at the tire condition. When rotating tires, all four tires can be thoroughly inspected before they are remounted on the vehicle.
Why Rotate Tires?
Front and rear tires wear down differently. The front tires are used to maneuver on the road; therefore, there are more demands put on the tire portion touching the road, known as the contact patch. While vehicles are well balanced for performance, the front of a vehicle in most passenger cars and trucks is significantly heavier than the rear due to the engine compartment and all that it contains. This additional weight will put more stress on the front tires. Ultimately, steering and vehicle weight combine to wear the tread faster on the front tires.
In order to fight this front tire wear and keep the tread levels on all four tires as similar as possible, it's necessary to rotate the tires every 5,000 - 6,000 miles. Most tires used on modern vehicles are of a radial construction design, and many have directional patterns. This means that proper balance and alignment are also very important in prolonging tread life. Tire rotations for radial tires will consist of moving the front tires to the rear and the rear tires to the front.
Tire rotations differ slightly for bias tires, which possess a different internal structure and matching tread patterns regardless of which direction the tire rolls. These tires are often tracked when rotated. For example, the left rear can be rotated to the front right and the right rear to left front. If tire shoulder wear is even on bias tires, they can also be rotated from front to back.
When to Rotate Tires
Rotating the tires every 5,000 - 6,000 miles ensures their treadwear won't become significantly uneven. For example, if a vehicle is allowed to travel on a set of front tires for 15,000 miles, the treadwear increasingly becomes uneven. The rear tires would then need the same mileage in similar driving scenarios to match.
Other problems may arise from uneven treadwear, such as minimal tread on the front, switched to the back. This could easily give way to the driving dynamics known as over-steer and under-steer, especially in wet weather driving. Ultimately, the front tires may hold with excellent traction, but the rear may steer loosely.
The opposite scenario may develop when excellent tread exists on the rear but little on the front. The tires may not "grip" the road effectively in a turn. This is especially true in wet weather. The vehicle could simply continue traveling in the direction it's moving as opposed to responding to the direction of the tires.