Often overlooked, maintaining your tires through a proper tire rotation schedule can save you a significant amount of money. Tire rotation is when your repair facility switches the position of each tire with another tire on the vehicle.

Without proper rotation, your tires wear unevenly and you’ll need a new set of tires much sooner than expected.

The Importance of Tire Rotations

Certain parts of your tires will wear faster than others. For example, front tires tend to wear more on the outside edges due to the vehicle leaning while it turns.

Even if the other parts of the tire have more thickness and grip, if the outside edges wear down to have no traction, it can be dangerous to continue driving on that tire.

Without tire rotation, more severe tire problems can also occur such as tire cupping.

Tire cupping is basically uneven wear on your tires. More specifically, this uneven wear will come in patches, usually around 3 to 4 inches across. As you look at your tire then, you will see there are patches with normal wear – i.e. with plenty of tread left – with evenly placed patches of much deeper wear running the length of the tire surface.


The wobbling from tire cupping often results in issues to other parts of your vehicle, such as your drivetrain or transmission. As a result, on top of a tire replacement bill, you could end up stuck with an expensive drivetrain repair too!

In summary, tire rotations done on a regular schedule helps your tires wear evenly. The exact schedule varies by vehicle, but often the owner’s manual will recommend a tire rotation every 5,000 to 7,500 miles. Staying on schedule extends the life of the tires, protects your vehicle from strain, and ultimately saves you money.

Tire Rotation Patterns

Secondly, did you know that there are various ways to rotate your tires based on the type of drivetrain and tire pattern you have? The most common tire rotations are the rearward cross, the forward cross, and the x-pattern.

Rearward Cross

This rotational pattern involves moving the front tires diagonally to the back while the rear tires move forward but stay on the same sides of the vehicle.

Forward Cross

Best for front-wheel-drive vehicles with non-directional patterned tires. Rear tires move to the front on the diagnol and front tires move to the back while staying on the same side.


Like it sounds, the front tires move to the back diagonally and the rear tires move to the front diagonally. In addition, sometimes an X-Pattern rotation is used in place of a Forward Cross rotation.


In a Front-to-Back rotation, the tires stay on the same side of the vehicle. The front tires are simply switched with the rear tires of the same side.


This rotation requires the front tires to switch with each other and the rear tires to switch with each other, keeping the front tires in the front and the rear tires in the back.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a wheel rotation?

A wheel rotation is just the circular motion of the wheel as it drives along the road. This can be a misused term in place of a tire rotation, which is the switching of the positions of the tires between the wheels of a car.

Does tire rotation direction matter?

Yes. The most fitting tire rotation to use on your car will also depend on your vehicle’s drivetrain and whether the tires have a directional pattern.

What happens if you don’t do tire rotation?

Your vehicle’s tires will wear unevenly which will continue to worsen causing more stress on the drivetrain, worse handling and braking efficiency, and result in you buying new tires much sooner.

Are tire rotations worth it?

Absolutely. Tire rotations are a necessary part of your manufacturer’s maintenance schedule and help prolong the life of the tires, your drivetrain, and other important parts of your vehicle.

Can rotating tires mess up alignment?

Not typically, however if the tires are lopsided from uneven wear, it can affect the alignment.

Why are my tires loud after rotation?

Noticing noise or vibration after a tire rotation can be related to alignment issues or may be due to uneven wear on the tires. We recommend you have a trusted mechanic diagnose your issue. If you need a referral, try Repair Pal.

Is tire rotation free with oil change?

Sometimes repair facilities offer a free tire rotation with an oil change. Be sure to ask your mechanic if this is something they offer.

How do I know if my tires need to be rotated?

Check the vehicle’s owner’s manual for the recommended miles to pass for a tire rotation. If you’re not sure when they were last rotated, ask your mechanic to examine your tires.

How often should tires be rotated?

Check your owner’s manual for the exact rotation schedule. The most common schedule is every 5,000-7,500 miles.