What Happens If You Don’t Rotate Your Tires: What You SHOULD Know
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What Happens If You Don’t Rotate Your Tires?

As a vehicle owner, you know that investing in high-quality tires is a necessary move to ensure maximum performance and safety on the road. Guides like the most recommended tires for Prius are written for folks like you who do not skimp on quality. Comfort is also a factor for you and your passengers, and the tires contribute a lot to that as well. Nevertheless, a good set of tires don’t last forever, and this is where tire maintenance comes in. While there are a couple of problems that tires can face in their lifetime, we’re going to look into the consequences that may arise from not rotating your tires. 

What is tire rotation?

“Don’t tires rotate all the time when a car is moving?” is what you may be thinking, but that’s not what rotating the tires means. Simply explained, tire rotation involves switching the positions of the tires around the vehicle in order to promote even wear. 

A car’s weight is not evenly distributed to its four corners, meaning that each tire receives a different amount of stress and pressure. Notice that the heaviest part of a car, the engine, is at the front, therefore putting more weight to the front tires. Besides that, a car’s weight is shifted forward every time the brakes are hit, and steering piles up on that as well. The end result? Your front tires tend to wear out faster than the rear ones. That’s the main reason why we need to get our tires rotated — so that all of them will wear out evenly.

However, tire rotation isn’t just switching your tires in random order around the car. There are suggested patterns to follow for evening out tire wear. The simplest pattern is transferring the front tires to the rear and the rear tires to the front. You can also do a reverse pattern which is similar to the first one but done with a crossover. It’s vital that you check your owner’s manual to see the recommended patterns most suited to your vehicle and tires, as there’s no one-size-fits-all pattern. In fact, there are some tires that cannot be switched, such as in different-sized front and rear tires, some of which are listed here. There are also tires that cannot be crossed over, such as unidirectional tires.

So, now to the big question…what happens if you skip rotating tires?

If you don’t rotate your tires…

Your front tires will wear out easily.

As mentioned, the front tires tend to carry more weight compared to the back tires. This is especially true with front-wheel-drive cars, where the engine delivers its power to the front wheels. But even if you don’t have an FWD, your front tires will likely experience more pressure because of the uneven weight distribution. As a result, your front wheels wear out much faster and may need replacing more frequently.  

Photo of a car

You would have decreased fuel efficiency.

When you skip rotating your tires, they will get worn out sooner than they’re supposed to. And when tires wear out and develop an uneven tread pattern, your car is forced to work harder to put power to the ground. Stops at the gas station will be occurring more often. Considering the fuel cost versus tire rotation cost, it’s really a no-brainer for you to consider getting your tires rotated.

You will experience poor handling.

Badly conditioned and unevenly worn tires mean poor handling. Maneuvering your vehicle would become twice as hard, and you’ll find that you need extra effort to remain steady on the road. Your wheels would be more susceptible to experiencing a flat or even tire failure. And the thing is, your tires won’t always show any extreme physical signs that things like this will happen. So when it does, you’re caught off guard and wonder where you went wrong with maintenance. 

You will hear more noise.

Tires are designed to provide a quiet and comfortable ride. With uneven tread wear, it’s likely that you’ll feel and hear every dip, irregularity, and vibration on the road. 

There will be less traction.

Because the tread design on each of your tires is not even, all those indentations won’t work quite as well as it used to when all your tires were new. You’d have less traction and grip, especially in wet roads. This is one of the main reasons why you shouldn’t brush off tire rotation. It’s simply because accidents are waiting to happen when you don’t rotate your tires.  

In a nutshell, rotated tires give way to stable handling, solid traction, increased tire lifespan, fuel efficiency, and a quiet ride. Essentially, these are the things you want when driving or riding any type of vehicle. 

How do I know if I need to get my tire rotations done?

The best thing to do is to check your manual to see the recommended rotation frequency and patterns. It doesn’t have to be guesswork, really. But if your manual is nowhere to be found, a good estimate will be to rotate your tires every 5 000 – 7 000 miles. Another way you can do it is to get your tires rotated every other time you get an oil change at your auto service shop.

Can I rotate tires myself?

Photo of changing tires

Yes, you absolutely can, just like other tire-related tasks. You just need a level work area and the proper tools, including a jack, jack stands, wheel chocks, and standard hand tools. You’d also need a torque wrench to secure the bolts and lug nuts tightly in place.

While learning how to rotate tires is not rocket science, remember to examine the entire set for any visible bumps or damages so you can see right away if you need any additional tire services.

Conclusion

Rotating your tires is a simple maintenance step but it does a lot for lengthening the tires’ lifespan and ensuring your safety on the road. Tire rotation ensures even wear of all your tires, therefore allowing you to travel farther with the same set of wheels. Have a consistent tire rotation schedule either with a tire service provider or yourself if you prefer the DIY route. 

Speaking of DIY, have a look at our article on how to release air from tires if you need help.

William
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