Open Road

5 tire rotation myths explained

Open Road

You already know that tires can lose one pound per square inch every month. Yet did you know that there is a more sinister threat lurking around your tire treads? A wealth of old wives' tales has sprung up around the practice of tire rotation. Here are five myths, debunked.

1. There is one way only to rotate your tires. In fact, there are at least two appropriate rotation patterns. For a front-wheel drive car, move both front wheels to the back, and then put the right rear wheel on the left front position. The left rear wheel goes to the right frontal place. If you drive a rear or four-wheel drive car, move the rear wheels to the front, and install the front left tire at the right rear position. The front right tire finds its new spot at the rear left.

2. Okay, so there are only two ways to rotate your tires. Wish that this were true. Yet if you put radial tires on your car, you must rotate the same side from the rear to the front. This is due to the 90-degree design of the cord plies. If you drive a classic car, you may still use the bias-ply design. These tires must be rotated across left and right, front and back.

3. Don't worry about the spare tire. On the contrary! If you have a full-size matching spare tire, put it in the right rear position while the front right tire becomes the new spare (for a front-wheel drive car). If you have a rear-wheel drive vehicle, the spare becomes the new right rear tire while the left front tire becomes the new spare.

4. Rotate tires after every oil change. While this is not a bad idea, the Utah State University Cooperative Extension pinpoints the sweet spot for tire rotations at 6,000 to 8,000 miles. A second rotation must take place at 18,000 to 24,000 miles. Of course, if your tread patterns show uneven wear, it is a good idea to do a rotation a bit sooner - preferably after an alignment.

5. Air tools ensure a snug fit. The experts from Motorweek beg to differ. If you opt for the air impact wrench to reinstall your tires after moving them around, there is a good chance that you end up with a warped brake rotor. The tool to use is the torque wrench.

Now that you know the difference between tire rotation myths and facts, treat your treads the right way.

Content by Sylvia Cochran.

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