Rotating Your Car Tires

by Lee Wyatt
(last updated February 17, 2012)

Rotating your car tires isn't a particularly difficult task. In fact, if you know how to change a car tire, then you know the basic mechanics of rotating the tires on your car. However, there are a about three different ways to rotate your tires. These are for directional tires, non-directional tires, and for when you want to rotate your spare into the mix. (By the way, directional tires mean that the tread pattern on the tires are designed, usually indicated by arrows on the sidewalls that point in the direction of travel, in such a way that they have to be mounted in a specific way to operate efficiently. Obviously, this means that non-directional tires don't have this.) Here's what you do.

Rotating Directional Tires:

  1. Identify direction of travel. Before you begin to raise the tires, make sure that you identify which direction the tire tread should be traveling in. This isn't all that difficult, since there should be a small arrow on the sidewall of the tire that points in the direction of travel.
  2. Raise and jack. Before you begin raising the tires, go ahead and loosen the lugs on the tires. Do not completely remove the lugs, but loosen them enough that it will be easy to remove them when the tire has been raised into the air. Once you have done that, begin raising the front tire. It does not matter which side you raise first, but it should be a tire that you have loosened the lugs on. Once you have raised the tire enough, put a jack stand under near the jack point, and then lower the tire onto the jack stand. Repeat the process on the tire that is behind the one you just raised.
  3. Remove and rotate. Once you have both of the tires raised on one side of the car, remove the lugs, and then the tires. Switch the two tires, making sure that the treads are going in the direction that they are designed to. Hand tighten the lugs again, making sure that you tighten them in a star pattern. Do this for both tires.
  4. Lower and tighten. Raise the rear tire once again on a jack, and off of the jack stand. Then lower the tire down to the ground. Repeat this with the front tire as well. Once again, tighten the lugs on each wheel in a star pattern, this time using the tire iron to do the job. Do not over torque the lugs though, or you could end up shearing off the bolts.
  5. Repeat. Repeat steps one through four on the side that you have not yet worked on. Once you have finished, you have completed rotating your tires.
  6. Don't forget to inspect. While you are rotating the tires, take the opportunity to look them over. This is the perfect chance to see if there is anything noticeably wrong with the tires that need to be replaced. Pay particular attention to wear and tear, as well as tread depth. Get any tire that is dramatically bad replaced as soon as you possibly can.

Rotating Non-Directional Tires:

A brief word of warning when attempting to utilize this particular method of rotating your car tires, when utilizing this method, be sure that you are only doing the work on level ground. The reason for this is that cars which are not on level ground, and that are placed on jack stands, have a tendency to come off of those jack stands. This can lead to severe injury or death, to say nothing about the damage to your vehicle.

  1. Loosen the lugs. Since you will be rotating all of the tires at one time, go ahead and loosen the lugs on all of them at once. Do not completely remove the lugs though, since this would create a dangerous situation.
  2. Raise and jack one tire. After loosening the lugs, chose one of the wheels and raise it up on a jack. Once you have raised the wheel far enough to allow it a chance to turn freely, place a jack stand underneath, near to the location of the jack. Make sure that when you lower the wheel onto the stand, that there is still enough room underneath the tire that it can freely turn.
  3. Repeat. Repeat raising, and jacking standing each of the tires until all have been raised off of the ground.
  4. Remove and rotate. Once you have raised and jacked all of the tires, go ahead and remove all of the lugs. Once the lugs are off of the wheels, begin to rotate them. Typically this is done in a criss-cross manner. It's rather simple. The pattern is like this: the left front tire goes to the right rear, the right rear goes to the right front, the right front goes to the left rear, and the left rear goes to the left front.
  5. Finger tighten lugs. After rotating the tires, finger tighten the lugs as much as possible. The pattern for the lugs is a star pattern. Do not tighten the lugs with the tire iron at this time.
  6. Lower and tighten tires. Raise one of the tires off of the jack stand, and then lower it to the ground. Repeat this process with each of the remaining tires. Once the tires are on the ground, tighten the lugs once again. Remember to still use the star pattern, and this time use the tire iron to get everything nice and tight. Do not over torque the tires though, since this could end up shearing the bolts off.
  7. Don't forget to inspect. While you are rotating the tires, take the opportunity to look them over. This is the perfect chance to see if there is anything noticeably wrong with the tires that need to be replaced. Pay particular attention to wear and tear, as well as tread depth. Get any tire that is dramatically bad replaced as soon as you possibly can.

Rotating the Spare:

Follow the same safety precautions as rotating non-directional tires when rotating your spare into the mix. The reason for this is that, frankly, you will be using a majority of the same methods for changing the tires. In addition, this method should only be used if you have a full sized spare.

  1. Locate and remove the spare. The vehicles that most often have a full sized spare are things like SUVs and vans, though there are some cars that do have them. Locate and remove the spare from wherever it is stored and set it behind the vehicle. This will help you to keep the tires straight.
  2. Loosen the lugs. Since you will be rotating all of the tires at one time, go ahead and loosen the lugs on all of them at once. Do not completely remove the lugs though, since this would create a dangerous situation.
  3. Raise and jack one tire. After loosening the lugs, chose one of the wheels and raise it up on a jack. Once you have raised the wheel far enough to allow it a chance to turn freely, place a jack stand underneath, near to the location of the jack. Make sure that when you lower the wheel onto the stand, that there is still enough room underneath the tire that it can freely turn.
  4. Repeat. Repeat raising, and jacking standing each of the tires until all have been raised off of the ground.
  5. Remove and rotate. Rotating the spare tire into the mix with the rest of your tires is much the same as rotating non-directional tires. However, there is a slightly different step. The pattern for this type of rotating goes like this: left front to spare, spare to right rear, right rear to right front, right front to left rear, and left rear to left front.
  6. Finger tighten lugs. After rotating the tires, finger tighten the lugs as much as possible. The pattern for the lugs is a star pattern. Do not tighten the lugs with the tire iron at this time.
  7. Lower and tighten tires. Raise one of the tires off of the jack stand, and then lower it to the ground. Repeat this process with each of the remaining tires. Once the tires are on the ground, tighten the lugs once again. Remember to still use the star pattern, and this time use the tire iron to get everything nice and tight. Do not over torque the tires though, since this could end up shearing the bolts off.
  8. Don't forget to inspect. While you are rotating the tires, take the opportunity to look them over. This is the perfect chance to see if there is anything noticeably wrong with the tires that need to be replaced. Pay particular attention to wear and tear, as well as tread depth. Get any tire that is dramatically bad replaced as soon as you possibly can.

Author Bio

Lee Wyatt

Contributor of numerous Tips.Net articles, Lee Wyatt is quickly becoming a regular "Jack of all trades." He is currently an independent contractor specializing in writing and editing. Contact him today for all of your writing and editing needs! Click here to contact. ...

MORE FROM LEE

Questions to Ask a Bankruptcy Attorney

If you are thinking about filing for bankruptcy, you may want to think strongly about hiring an attorney. However, there ...

Discover More

Installing Gutter Guards

Gutter guards can be a very effective and helpful tool that will not only save your gutters from damage, but also help ...

Discover More

Repairing a Running Toilet

Perhaps the single most common plumbing problem in the bathroom is to have a running toilet. Repairing a running toilet isn't ...

Discover More
MORE CAR TIPS

When is it Time to Replace Your Tires?

Anyone who has ever owned a vehicle has asked themselves 'When is it time to replace my tires?' While you may think that that ...

Discover More

Adjusting Wheel Alignment

Whenever you get your tires rotated or replaced you should always check to make sure that the alignment is on track. While ...

Discover More

Choosing Winter Tires

Choosing winter tires is not as simple as just going down to you local tire store and buying the ones that look good. There ...

Discover More

Comments for this tip:

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is 8 - 1?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


Videos

Subscribe to the Tips.Net channel:

Visit the Tips.Net channel on YouTube

Links and Sharing
Share