What Is Tire Rotation, And How Much Does It Cost?

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Most people don’t consider tire rotation a priority when they think of vehicle maintenance. But it’s essential to ensure your vehicle performs optimally. So, what is tire rotation, and how often should you do it? 

Tire rotation involves rotating a vehicle’s front and rear tires to even out the wear on each tire. An average tire rotation service costs around $20-$120 depending on the shop and vehicle. Some companies offer free tire rotation during the warranty period.

Let’s explore what tire rotation is, how often you should rotate your tires, and signs that your vehicle needs tire rotation. 

How Does Tire Rotation Work?

Car Tire Replacement Service

Tire rotation is rotating a vehicle’s front and rear tires, moving the tire from one position to another. This process takes about an hour or two, depending on the vehicle type. 

For modern luxury cars, the process involves rotating with a new set of tires entirely, as the front and rear tires are different sizes.

Tire rotation is an integral part of vehicle maintenance, and neglecting it could lead to your vehicle being more prone to slipping on the road due to the reduced traction caused by wear on tires. 

It’s advised to go to a professional mechanic for tire rotation as this process varies based on the type of vehicle, tire size, and other factors.   

Why is it Important?

Tire rotation is a preventative maintenance measure and will help ensure your vehicle’s tires remain in good condition. In addition, tire rotation reduces the strain on the front tires and helps with better traction. 

The front tires of the car usually wear out faster due to extra road stress than the rear ones. 

Performing rotation checks regularly will slow down the wear on all four of the car’s tires as the stress will be divided equally instead of the pressure being on mostly the two front tires. By following this maintenance practice, you’ll save money down the line, and you won’t have to replace your tires as often. 

Also, consistent tire rotation makes driving and handling the car much easier, and there’s less risk of your car slipping or getting imbalanced. Unfortunately, even car companies only offer tire warranties on the condition that you rotate your tires regularly. 

Overall, tire rotation is essential to your car maintenance routine and ensures your safety on the road. The last thing you want is your tires to slip when you apply the brakes at a fast speed! 

What is the Average Cost of Tire Rotation?

The average tire rotation cost can range from around $20 to $120 depending on the company you go to, the area where you live, and the kind of vehicle you drive. Some vehicles are heavier or have a unique design, which makes tire rotation more expensive. 

When you buy new tires, ask around at different companies, as some tire companies offer free rotation services, especially during the warranty period.  

You can also rotate the vehicle’s tires on your own, but it would be best to go to a qualified mechanic, especially when dealing with heavier vehicles. Some areas also have laws requiring you to have a qualified mechanic check your vehicle’s tires after each rotation or tire change. 

How Often Should You Rotate Your Tires?

changing wheels-tire during spinning wheelCar wheel tire replacement

Mechanics recommend rotating your tires after every 5,000 to 8,000 miles, which translates to around every six months to a year on average. Your vehicle’s manual will have specific tire rotation requirements based on the vehicle and tire type. 

Several factors may affect how soon you need to do a tire rotation. If you’ve recently changed your tires, you notice visible signs of tire wear and tear, or your vehicle seems imbalanced, especially when driving at fast speeds, you’ll have to rotate your tires sooner. 

Generally, a helpful guideline is to check the tire rotation after every oil change. You’ll have to double-check the tire rotation if you’ve just returned from a long trip. 

Here are some factors that determine how often you should rotate your vehicle’s tires: 

  • The car’s model and year of manufacture. 
  • The Weight of the Vehicle: If the car is heavy, you may need to go in sooner.
  • How Old or New the Tires are: New tires need tire rotation sooner as uneven wear is more evident. 
  • How Much Wear There is on the Car’s Tires: A visual inspection will let you know the level of wear and if it’s time to go in for a rotation. 
  • Tire Pressure: Low pressure in your tires is usually an indicator of tire wear.

How to Tell When Your Tires Need Rotating

Even if you’re not a mechanic, you can tell when your tires need rotating by considering certain tire wear and tear signs. Some signs that indicate your tires need rotating include: 

Your Tires are Unevenly Worn-out

If some tires are wearing down faster than others, it’s often a sign your vehicle needs tire rotating. Unfortunately, this is also a sign of improper wheel alignment, and it can be dangerous to drive with your tires in this state. 

The front tires usually wear down faster than others because they bear most of the engine weight, steering activities, and braking. These factors together put more pressure on the front tires, affecting the traction and handling of the car.    

Worn-out suspension, imbalanced tires, and improper tire inflation are some of the most significant mechanical problems that may also result in uneven wear. 

You can avoid this by regularly rotating each tire to a different car corner. Of course, you should also resolve any mechanical problems before you drive. 

Your Vehicle Vibrates More Often Than Usual

Vehicle vibration is another vital sign that tells you your tire’s tread is uneven and needs immediate rotation. You may feel more vibration and the chances of losing traction and handling are high when the car is moving at high speeds.

A trade depth gauge can help you measure the tread on the tire’s surface and may tell you when you should rotate the tire. You’ll need to measure tread depth and note it periodically. 

Legally, you should change the tires when the reading falls 2/32nd of an inch. 

The Tires Lose Pressure More Often

You should consider rotating the tire when it deflates more often than it should as compared to other tires. This can occur because the specific tire is bearing more weight than other tires, and rotating the tire may help distribute the pressure evenly among all tires.

It’s not always necessary that a tire loses pressure only because of uneven wear, and other factors like tire size and shape, improper placement, and other mechanical problems can also affect the tire pressure. 

Symptoms of a Bad Tire Rotation

It is frustrating and risky when the tire is not correctly rotated. If you don’t use a reliable qualified mechanic or attempt to rotate the tires yourself, you’ll end up with bad tire rotation. Here are the most common symptoms of bad tire rotation: 

  • Increased Uneven Tread Wear: If one tire wears down much faster than the others, it signifies improper tire rotation. 
  • Frequent Pressure Loss: If the tire is badly rotated, the uneven pressure distribution will cause more frequent pressure loss. 
  • Bald Tires: When the wear is significant, your tire may become bald and lose grip on the road. 
  • Vehicle Imbalance: You’ll need to change the rotation when you feel your car’s imbalance when you drive. Most experienced drivers will pick up vehicle imbalance issues. 
  • Sidewall Cracks: You should immediately check for bad tire rotation when you see sidewall cracks on the tire. 
  • Tire Noise: If your tire makes unusual noise for a longer time, it needs correct rotation.
  • Tire Wobbling: When your car bounces a lot or the steering becomes loose, it’s a critical tire rotation issue, and you’ll need to check it immediately. 
  • Increased Fuel Consumption: Unusual fuel consumption may also indicate possible bad rotating as bad tires require more energy. While there are countless reasons for a bad fuel average, you’ll have to get a mechanic to inspect the vehicle.