To rotate your tires or not, that is the question! Imagine yourself sitting on a hard chair listening to a very long and boring lecture. You shift your body, do you not? Why? If we don’t it becomes very uncomfortable and can hurt us. So goes the same for your vehicle. If you continue to drive your car with the tires in the same spot – be it the front or the rear, the pressure your car exerts on that ONE spot will wear your tires out prematurely. Guess what happens next? New tires.
The rule of thumb is to rotate your tires EVERY OTHER oil change.
Do tell, what is the technician doing out there? When you request your tires to be rotated, or if the auto repair shop asks you, the technician will shift the tires.
So for example, the tires in the back will go to the front. It’s like the tires are playing musical chairs. This allows the tires to have a break and wear evenly.
This is where it gets tricky. A best practice for auto repair shops is to check if the tires are balanced (on a balancer) once they’ve removed them from the vehicle and are in the process of rotating the tires. Checking the balance means the technician is checking to see if the tire’s weight is evenly distributed. Even distribution of weight = even wear n’ tear on your tire AND smooth driving.
Think of Tire Rotation as an island. Sometimes you can stay on the island and be happy. Sometimes when a vehicle’s tires are rotated they are perfectly balanced in their own right and all is well with the world. Sometimes the island is no longer fun and you have to leave on a boat. Sometimes when a vehicle’s tires are rotated the tires are NOT in balance they NEED to be balanced.
What is the big deal? If you need the tires balanced but don’t do it, there is a high chance you’ll feel vibration when you start driving. You may say but the car never drove like that when I came in for the tire rotation….
Before getting your tires rotated, you had a completely smooth drive. The rear tires were unbalanced, but you’d never know it. It’s not detectable when you drove. So when you got your tires rotated they moved the rear tires (unbalanced) to the front. Now those rear tires are in the front. You’ll feel it now if you drove the car and didn’t get them balanced. The steering wheel would vibrate and you’d think the Earth is shaking. You feel it because the steering wheel is connected to the front tires. Those front tires were the unbalanced tires they moved from the rear.
I could write a whole blog on alignments so this will be a very brief explanation. An alignment check while you are getting your tires rotated and balanced is not a bad idea. Alignment is about how the tire sits on the ground and which direction it faces. If the tires are facing slightly off the correct direction, you will get side wear – or the fancy term is “feather wear” on the tire. If the tire is not sitting flat and sitting on an angle, it will wear that tire more at the angle it is sitting at.
If you’re not on a schedule for tire rotation, start one. At your next oil change, ask for it. Then remember, from then on get this done every other oil change. If they say your tires need to be balanced, it’s probably a good idea. If you can’t remember the last time you had an alignment, it’s probably been too long and you should get that done pretty soon too (perfect time is during your tire rotation).
There you have it folks –
Tire Rotation + Balancing Tires + Alignments = Happy Vehicle