How often should you rotate your car tires & how much does it cost?

Tire rotation is of the simplest techniques for getting the most out of your tires, but how often should you do it and is it worth the price?

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One of the simplest techniques for getting the most out of your tires — something you can do at home, too — is tire rotation.

Your tires are the only things holding your car on the road, and they do that with a combined contact patch of about the size of a standard magazine cover.

Each tire grips the road with, typically, no more than an average-sized hand’s worth of contact, so keeping that patch pristine is key to how your car handles, stops, steers and deals with water.

First, what exactly is tire rotation and why bother doing it?

Simply put, it’s the act of moving tires (and usually their accompanying wheels) to different spots on the car. Tire and car manufacturers recommend rotation as a way to deal with uneven wear on the tires and to prevent excessive wear on one or two particular tires.

Tire Loads

Tires are under different loads depending on their positions, so uneven wear is inevitable irrespective of any structural issues. Front tires typically bear more weight — both because they’re under the engine and also because weight effectively transfers forward during braking.

Tire Placement

As well, tires on the outside of corners wear differently than tires on the inside of corners. The outside tires have both farther to travel and bear more weight, as turning a corner shifts weight to the outside of the corner. Statistics suggest drivers make more right turns than left turns, which is also reflected in greater wear on the left.

Benefits you gain from swapping those tires

Rotating your tires is a way to equalize wear and tear over the life of your tires. It also puts your tires front-and-centre in the eyes of a technician, who can identify not only worn tires, but also potential mechanical issues from the tread wear.

So, how often should you get your tires rotates & at what mileage?

Your vehicle’s owner’s manual is the best source of information on everything maintenance-related, and rotation schedules can differ, but most recommendations are to rotate every 5,000 to 7,500 miles or 8,000 to 12,000 kilometres.

U.S. News agrees that typically tire rotation is called for every 5,000 to 7,500 miles, though there are exceptions.

In many parts of the US and essentially all of Canada, winter tires are a necessity. If you experience long periods of temperatures less than 45 F or 7C (yes, seven above zero) and or snow, you need winter tires. For many drivers, the changeover from winter to summer and back provides an excellent rotation schedule at the same time.

Each tire grips the road with, typically, no more than an average-sized hand’s worth of contact, so keeping that patch pristine is key to how your car handles, stops, steers and deals with water.

New tires wear the most quickly for the first few thousand kilometres of life, so for that first rotation, it’s recommended to rotate closer to the 5,000-mile or 8,000-kilometre mark than latter.

How much does tire rotation cost?

The cost will depend on your local shop’s shop rate, as it’s primarily a service that requires no parts. Quora has a good discussion here on how much tire rotation should cost with varied price points.

Look for rates between $60 and $100, more if your tires are staggered and directional and must be dismounted and remounted. Blend rotation into the summer-winter changeover to save some money.

But just ensure tire rotation is a priority, both for safety’s sake and tire longevity.

Kelly Taylor
Kelly Taylor has been writing about cars since 2000. His favourite ride has been the Audi R8 from Thunder Bay to Winnipeg, where he nearly traded the car for a Ford Ranger, a Greyhound Bus and the Blue Heron Gift Store in Kenora, Ont.

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