What is tire rotation service?

mechanic removing a tire

Why tire rotation is important?

As you drive to work or out running errands, does your car seem to be driving different, like a vibration when you get up to a certain speed? It may be time for a tire rotation service, but what is that exactly? 

A tire rotation service is periodically having the position of each tires changed. Typically, this means the back tires moved to the front and front to the back in a crisscross pattern. Every car manufacturer will have recommendation how often this should be done with the average being every 5,000 miles. This is usually the same time your car needs the oil changed, so that can make it easier for you to remember. 

Tire rotation service will keep your tires safe as the technician visually inspects them for any damage. The technician will also check the air pressure, the tire tread, and rebalance them if needed. Not only is this keeping your tires safe and your car, it keeps the tire warranty valid too. Other reasons that tire rotation service is important are: 

  • Regular tire rotation service keeps the wear and tear even on all four tires, maximizing their lifespan. Each tire is responsible for a specific position of your vehicle. Typically, the front tires on a front-wheel drive car takes the most friction and torque as you accelerate, brake, and make turns. 
  • Secondly, regular tire rotation service will even the tread depth and wear uniform. This will help with handling and traction on all four tires and improves braking and cornering. 
  • Finally, for an all-wheel-drive vehicle, regular tire rotation service will ease the stress on the drivetrain as the tires are worn evenly. This reduces the strain and wear on other components of the drivetrain. 

How long does a tire rotation take?

The typically, a tire rotation service can be combined with the routine oil change. The entire service will usually be between 30 minutes and an hour. Each car manufacturer has different policies about tire rotation and oil changes, so you may need to make additional trip for one or the other.  If your car warranty has expired and you’ve purchased new tires, the tire rotation service time should be adjusted to follow the tire manufacturer’s recommendation.

Are tire rotation and alignment the same?

No, and the difference between a tire rotation service and a wheel alignment service is significant. Both are important to the lifespan and well-being of the car and the safety of you and your passengers. To clarify the difference of the two:  

  • Tire rotation service is the process of moving the tires to different positions on your vehicle. The purpose of a tire rotation service is to keep the tires from wearing out unevenly because the weight of a car is different between the back and front.  
  • A wheel alignment service is the process of lining up the wheels properly with the steering wheel. When the wheels are in alignment with the steering wheel, it can cause your car to drift from side to side, and over time, the wheels and the tires will need replacing. 

A tire rotation service will save money by improving your car’s fuel efficiency. A wheel alignment service will keep your tires from wearing unevenly and wearing out too fast. 

How often should tires be rotated?

Every car manufacturer has different recommendations for a tire rotation service, with most being every 5,000 miles. Once a car has gone past the manufacturer’s warranty and new tires are installed, when is tire rotation needed?. You should follow the tire manufacturer’s recommendations for tire rotation services. It too is usually every 5,000 miles, but some tire brands may recommend at 10,000 miles.

How do you rotate tires?

Experience mechanics will know how tire rotation is done, which is based on a pattern that is best for the vehicle and the type of tires on the vehicle. It will also depend on it the car is a front wheel drive, a rear wheel drive, or a four-wheel drive and if the tires are directional or non-directional. The tire size can affect the tire rotation service too and what type of spare tire your car is equipped with. 

Will tire rotation stop vibration?

In most cases, yes, a tire rotation service and balancing will stop any vibration you may be experiencing while driving.  If the vibration continues, you should have the tires replaced. The technician that performs your tire rotation service will usually advise you if the tires are too worn for the rotation and balance to be of any help.

tire being removed from a vehicle

At The End Of The Road Where The Rubber Meets the Road 

How much does a tire rotation and balance cost? This will depend on the make and model of the car and where you take your car for the tire rotation service.  A tire rotation alone is usually $50 or less. If you do this in coordination with the routine oil change, the cost can be upward of $75 or more.  

You can take the car to the dealership where you purchased the car, which is the manufacturer’s recommendation, or most oil and lube shops will offer a free tire rotation service with the purchase of an oil change.