Let’s quickly review. Treads wear down, but it may surprise you to know that those in the front wear more quickly than those in the rear. That’s especially true for front- wheel drive vehicles. The reason this happens is due to friction between the rubber and the pavement. Whenever you drive your car, the friction generates heat, which causes the treads to wear down. As a result, they become less responsive, create more resistance (which affects fuel efficiency), and need to be replaced more often.
When you rotate your tires, it relieves the pressure created by friction on those placed on the front axle. Remember, those in the front wear down more quickly than those in the rear. Swapping them lets you prolong the useful life of your tires as long as possible.
The Right (And Wrong) Way To Rotate
As noted above, you can perform the rotation yourself with a torque wrench, but it’s important to know how to rotate them properly. The rule of thumb for most makes and models is to swap front and rear tires without changing sides. That is, the passenger rear goes on the passenger front, not the driver’s front.
A lot of people make the mistake of rotating their tires in an “X” pattern. For example, they’ll swap the driver’s rear and passenger front, and passenger’s rear and driver’s front. They do this thinking that they’re spreading the tread wear more evenly. In fact, they’re probably doing more harm than good because treads wear down based upon the vehicle’s suspension system and alignment.
Getting Your Hands Dirty
Even though rotating your wheels is a relatively simple job, consider having a mechanic do it for you. Given that you only need to have it done approximately every 10,000 miles (check your owner’s manual to make sure), it’s a low-maintenance task that’s inexpensive and doesn’t take much time. If you’re absolutely invested in doing it yourself, buy a sturdy jack (a hydraulic model, if possible). It’s dirty work and there’s some heavy lifting involved. But, you’ll save a few dollars and have the pleasure of knowing you fixed it yourself. Personally, I prefer having my mechanic do the job.