Tire rotation is about as basic as car maintenance gets, but that doesn't make it any less important. By rotating your tires, you can extend the life of your tires by promoting even tire wear and also get better gas mileage. The simplest way to determine how often to rotate your tires, is to simply do it every time you change from your summer tires to your winter tires, or every time your change your oil. (You do have winter tires, don't you?)
When we talk about tire rotation, we simply mean switching the front and rear tires at the time of your tire change. If you left your tires in the same position at every tire change, you would notice them wearing un-evenly. Because the weight of your car isn't distributed evenly from front to back, or even from corner-to-corner, uneven tire wear is unavoidable.
In order to avoid uneven tire wear, move each tire to a different corner of the car when you change tires. Your owner's manual should tell you how frequently tire rotation is recommended. Schedules range from every 5,000 to 12,000 km.
How Do You Rotate Tires?
Rotating your tires is easy-and if you know how to change your own tires, you're already half way there! The standard pattern is to move the front tires straight to the rear, and move the rear tires to the front, but cross them over (so that the right rear ends up on the left front). The reverse pattern (rear to front, front to rear with a crossover) is also common. It isn't as important that you follow an exact pattern, as long as you stay consistent every time you rotate your tires.
It's also a good idea to mark your tires if you have two sets so you can remember where they came from when you swap them next time. You can label your tires with a piece of chalk, or a grease pen on the inner sidewall. Tire rotation is worth it. All it takes is a few minutes, but it can save you money on your tires in the long run as well as improve the performance of your car.