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How to Rotate Tires For Better Traction And Tread Life

Stack of old, dusty tires

From potholes to gravel roads and sudden stops, your tires go through a lot every day. One way to help keep your car’s tires in good condition is by rotating them regularly. This will help your tires maintain the traction they need to keep you safe on the road and may also extend the life of your tires.

If you know how to rotate tires, you can complete the task in as little as an hour or two. You’ll need a floor jack, four jack stands and a lug wrench.

Choose the Best Rotation Pattern

Before you remove the tires, you should first pick an appropriate rotation pattern. To get started with this, determine whether your car has directional or non-directional tires.

Tire sidewall

Directional Tires: With directional tires, the rubber has a one-way tread pattern designed to suit the direction in which the wheels rotate. Each is made for either the left or right side of the vehicle. You can identify these tires by taking a look at the sidewall. With directional tires, the sidewall features small arrows or triangles that show which way the tire is supposed to turn.

Since directional tires are designed to be used on a specific side, it’s important to keep the following in mind when rotating them:

  • Swap the front right tire with the rear right tire.
  • Swap the front left tire with the rear left tire.

Non-Directional Tires: If your tires don’t have arrows or triangles on the sidewall, they are non-directional, so they can be attached to any wheel on either side of the vehicle. With these tires, your rotation pattern will depend on whether the vehicle is rear-wheel drive, four-wheel drive, all-wheel drive or front-wheel drive.

For rear-wheel-drive, four-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive vehicles, move each front tire to the opposite side of the rear axle and each rear tire to the same side of the front axle:

  • The front left tire replaces the rear right tire.
  • The front right tire replaces the rear left tire.
  • The rear right tire replaces the front right tire.
  • The rear left tire replaces the front left tire.

With front-wheel-drive vehicles, move the rear tires to the opposite sides of the front axle and the front tires to the same side of the rear axle:

  • The rear left tire replaces the front right tire.
  • The rear right tire replaces the front left tire.
  • The front right tire replaces the rear right tire.
  • The front left tire replaces the rear left tire.

How to Rotate Tires

Now that you know which rotation pattern to use, it’s time to get started:

  1. Engage your car’s parking brake to keep it stable during the tire rotation.
  2. Use a lug wrench to loosen the lug nuts on each wheel, but don’t remove the tires just yet.
  3. Use the floor jack to raise your car, and place the jack stands underneath to keep it elevated.
  4. Remove the tires, and rotate them using the appropriate pattern.
  5. Lower the car, and tighten each tire’s lug nuts using the lug wrench.

The owner’s manual will let you know how frequently your tires should be rotated. Tires play a huge role in your car’s performance, and regular rotation will help to keep them in great condition.

Check out all the tire products available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on how to rotate tires, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photo courtesy of Pexels.

Warren Clarke View All

I'm a writer and editor who's a regular contributor with the New York Daily News and Carfax, and my content has appeared in over 20 publications. I've written content that covers industries such as automotive, medical, insurance, healthcare, real estate, plumbing, pest control, dental and hospitality.

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