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How Often Should You Rotate Your Tires?

tire on a car in the road

Many motorists tend to think of their tires as indestructible. This way of thinking leads many car owners to drive on their tires until they provide little to no traction in inclement weather and cause a crash. Others ride on the same tires until something gets stuck in them, they can no longer be patched anymore, or they burst.

Even when vehicle owners give their tires a bit more attention, like periodically checking the tire pressure or evaluating their tread life, they might not do enough. Where do car drivers drop the ball? They do so when it comes to aligning and rotating their tires. The latter factor can cause crashes.

If you’re curious about the purpose of rotating tires and how often you should do this, we’ll tackle these topics below. We’ll also address other tire maintenance you might want to perform and how combining these efforts minimizes the chances of a crash occurring.

What Purpose Does a Tire Rotation Serve?

Tire rotations ensure that your tires receive equal wear, which can minimize your risk for tire failures, such as blowouts, and improve your fuel economy and traction.

While some of these factors can extend your tires’ lifetime, all of them can save you money.

If you were to ask a car accident lawyer about the matter, they’d advise you that motorists can avoid crash-related litigation and subsequent insurance premium price hikes by keeping their tires maintained too.

What Does a Tire Rotation Entail?

A tire rotation involves the following three steps:

  1. Removal: Both the front and rear tires are taken off.
  2. Switch or Swap: The front tires are exchanged with the rear tires (and vice versa).
  3. Remount: The tires are all placed on their new axles and secured to them.

The rotation of tires is critical as the front tires (also known as the drive ones) are subjected to significantly more work than the rear ones are. This leads them to show more wear and tear than the rear tires. A rotation ensures a more even wearing down of all four tires.

Many motorists have a false impression that a tire rotation involves moving rear tires forward and vice versa along the same side. Car and Driver magazine recommends a slightly modified approach that varies depending on whether the vehicle is a rear or all-wheel drive as follows.

All-wheel drive vehicles: Tire rotations should take on a crisscross pattern, meaning:

  • The right rear tire should be moved to the left front area.
  • The left front tire should be moved to the right rear area.
  • The right rear tire should be moved to the left front area.
  • The left rear tire should be moved to the right front area.

Rear-wheel drive vehicles: Tire shops often move rear tires to the front on the same side. Car and Driver magazine recommends taking the front tires and moving them to the rear on the opposite side instead. So, for example, a front left tire would become the right rear one by following this recommendation.

How Often Should Tires Be Rotated?

You’ll see a variety of opinions if you look online for how often you should rotate your tires. The frequency with which you should have a rotation performed is often given in mileage. One consumer report study gave a range of 5,000-8,000 miles. Tire shops will often quote a generalized 6-month time frame. Given the variances above, how do you decide what’s right for you and your car?

When deciding how often to rotate your tires, you should ideally go with what your vehicle’s manufacturer recommends. Where do you find such information? You can find it in your vehicle’s owner’s manual. There, it will list:

  • The tire size you should use
  • How much air you should pump into your tires
  • The frequency with which you should rotate your tires

Just keep in mind that different factors, including weather (such as temperatures) and road conditions, can impact how often you should rotate your tires. This explains why some tire shops will ask if you want to have your tires rotated when you take your car in for an oil change. They do so because most car owners have an oil change every 3,000 to 7,500 miles, depending on the engine.

The Importance of Tire Inspections

Another important aspect of tire rotations that’s critical is that it allows for a closer inspection of the tires. This is important because car owners generally only see a view of their tire’s exterior wall. This doesn’t give them the best view of the treads or any potential damage to its interior components. According to Car and Driver magazine, two of the more pressing issues that arise with the tire’s interior wall include:

  1. Cupping: This most commonly affects older vehicles with older suspension systems. It can result in uneven tread wear patterns, which, if left unaddressed, can affect braking, steering, and ride comfortability in addition to wearing out tires at a faster rate than they otherwise would deteriorate.
  2. Blistering: Potholes can reap havoc on tires, especially the deeper they are. This road hazard may cause a bulging of the wheel’s tire that allows for air to enter, causing a blister along the tire’s structure. Situations like this could result in tire failure (such as a blowout or flat), leading to an accident.

Did Poor Tire Maintenance Result in Your Crash Injury?

High speeds and road conditions are two factors that put tires under significant pressure to perform. Individuals who fail to properly take care of their tires run the risk of having their vehicles leave them stranded and are more likely to lose control of their cars, causing crashes.

Know that building evidence in a case is critical when inadequate tire maintenance is suspected. Your car accident lawyer may need to request the preservation of the failed tire itself as well as alignment, rotation, and other records.

As you might surmise, time is of the essence in equipment failure or negligent maintenance situations like this. You will want to consult with our attorneys at Buckingham & Vega Law Firm as soon as possible after your crash to ensure that they get their hands on any necessary evidence to prove negligence in your case.

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