Lake Gazette

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Do I really need to rotate my tires?

Tire rotation is a very important part of maintaining a vehicle.  Rotating vehicles tires on a regular basis will help maximize the life of the tires as it allows for more even tread wear.  Most manufactures recommend rotating vehicles tires between 5,000 and 10,000 miles, or at every other oil change.  Another way to know when to rotate the vehicles tires would be to check the vehicle owner’s manual to see what the manufacturer suggests for the individual vehicle specifications and recommendations.  The air pressure of the tires is also a critical part of vehicle safety and tire life.  A variation of just a few pounds from the recommended pressure levels can result in uneven tread wear, and even reduce the fuel mileage of a vehicle.

The four main rotation patterns used to rotate tires are front wheel drive, real wheel drive, four-wheel drive and uni-directional which is where the tread faces one way. If the vehicle has six wheels generally the two types of rotation used are standard dually and alternate dually rotation. During any rotation, each tire and wheel is removed from the vehicle and moved to a different position to ensure wear evenly and for the tire to last longer.

Paradoxically for maximum traction, the best tires should be kept on the rear wheels of the vehicle, whether it is front- or rear-wheel drive. The reason for this is that if the rear wheels lose grip before the front ones, an oversteer condition will occur, which is harder to control than the corresponding understeer which will happen if a front wheel is lost. This is also the case if a tire blows out, so the intuitive belief that the front steering/driving tires need to be the best quality is not the case. A rear tire blowout will cause the vehicle to become very difficult to control, especially at highway speeds. It also greatly increases the risk of rollover due to yawing, a condition where the rear of the vehicle swings out and becomes perpendicular to the direction of travel. Yawing will cause the tire to separate from the rim, the rim can then dig into the pavement, or dirt and grass if the vehicle is no longer on the road, which will trip the vehicle and cause a rollover.

If ever there is a question about tire rotation or maintenance, don’t hesitate to ask a professional mechanic at a local repair shop.