How to Properly Rotate Tires on Your Car

If you want to take good care of your car, it's important you rotate your tires. And yes, you can do it yourself. Here's how.

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If you're a conscientious vehicle owner looking to get as much as you can out of your car, don't ignore tire rotation. Done to evenly distribute the wear and tear of driving among all four tires, tire rotation should really be called wheel rotation. The process involves removing the full tire and rim assemblies, also known as wheels, from their axles, and then moving them to a different spot on the car.

Left to their own devices, cars don't distribute their load evenly. Generally, the front tires wear out faster than the rear — especially the front left. Tire rotation shares this burden among all the tires, since no one tire will occupy the most wear–prone positions for too long.

This is how to rotate tires efficiently.

Tools Required

  • Car jack
  • Lug wrench
  • Permanent marker
  • Portable air compressor
  • Two 6- to 8-in.-thick blocks of wood

Project step-by-step (6)

Step 1

Determine Tire Direction

  • Figure out if your tires are uni-directional or bi-directional.
    • Uni-directional tires are meant to spin in one direction for maximum traction. Bi-directional tires can spin in either direction.
  • Inspect the sidewall of any of your tires for a symbol referring to the direction.
    • If the tire is bi-directional, it may not have a symbol. Uni-directional tires usually have an arrow embossed on the rubber, indicating the correct direction of travel.

Determine Tire DirectionRobert Maxwell for Family Handyman

Step 2

Prepare to Remove the Front Left Wheel

  • Position your car jack under your vehicle near the front left wheel.
    • Many vehicles come with a compact jack stored in the trunk or elsewhere. If yours does, use it. If not, you’ll need to supply your own.
  • Make sure the jack is positioned somewhere solid on the vehicle’s frame before raising it. If you’re not sure where best to position it, check your vehicle owner’s manual or look online.
  • Slide a solid wooden block under the axle of the vehicle as close as possible to the wheel you’re about to remove. The block you choose should just barely fit under the axle.

Prepare to remove wheelsRobert Maxwell for Family Handyman