Good tire management is essential to the safety and fuel efficiency of your vehicle. Your car or truck has four contact points to the road, each about the size of your hand. How effectively these four contact points provide grip to your vehicle can mean the difference between life and death.
Without tire rotation, you can expect a loss of twenty percent of the useful tire life. Tire rotation must be part of your vehicle’s regular tire maintenance schedule to ensure optimal performance and tire life.
Tires have the primary function of providing good contact to the road surfaces on which the vehicle is used. For a tire to perform this function, the tire’s tread pattern has to be uniform over the width and circumference of the tire and must be a minimum of 2/32 of an inch (1.6 mm) tread depth remaining. Modern tires are fitted with a tire tread depth indicator, which will indicate when tire replacement is due.
Let’s explore how tire rotation and good tire care can save you money and help to save your life potentially.
How Frequently Should Tires Be Rotated?
Most tire manufacturers recommend that you rotate the tires on your vehicle every six months or 7,500 miles (12,000 km) to get the optimal operational performance from the tires. There are sound reasons behind this recommendation.
Summer/Winter tires rotation – for most of the northern hemisphere, the cold freezing conditions result in black ice or sleet on the roads. These conditions necessitate a pre-winter inspection, whether you have All-Season, Summer, or Winter tires fitted.
Tire Types – manufacturers have developed tires that are designed for Summer, Winter, and All-Season conditions. If you have Summer tires fitted to your car, they have to be replaced with Winter or All-Season tires for the Winter months.
Tire Tread Patterns – tread designs have been optimized to suit the performance criteria of the type of vehicles to which they are fitted. There are four types of tread designs symmetrical, asymmetrical, directional, and asymmetrical & directional. Each type of tread design will afford different rotation strategies. Your vehicle owner’s manual will describe the rotation instructions applicable to your car.
Drive type – the steer axle must always have tires in optimal condition compared to the other axle. Loss of traction or a tire blowout on a steer axle tire can result in a severe accident. IF your car is front-wheel driven, meaning the engine provides tractive power to the front wheels, the front tire condition is most important. If your car is a rear-wheel drive, all-wheel drive, or a 4×4, your front tires must always be in the best condition possible.
The drive axle of your vehicle will also show tire wear sooner than the ties on the other axle. Front-wheel tires also wear due to the steering friction. If you have a rear-wheel drive vehicle, the rear tires will wear faster than the front tires. You may also experience uneven wear across the tire’s width caused by tire alignment, the castor, and the camber of your tires.
The effect of driving through a pothole at high speed can alter the wheel alignment and result in uneven tire wear.
Even if you live in an area where only Summer-tires are required all year round, having your tires inspected and rotated is a good practice. If you have driven through a pothole or had a collision with a curbstone, it is recommended to take your car in for a tire inspection. Tire inspections are generally free and are an excellent opportunity to check tire inflation pressures and tire wear.
What Would Happen If I Forget To Do Tire Rotation?
Your tires are designed to last for five years and provide you with 60 000 miles of travel, provided they are well maintained. The rubber will slowly oxidize due to strong sunlight, heat, and exposure to the elements, causing the rubber to become brittle and harder. Do not buy tires older than five years.
If you neglect to rotate your tires but still regularly check the inflation pressures in all tires, you stand to lose tire life of as much as 10,000 miles (17%). Your tires will still be safe to operate your vehicle as long as the thread depth indicator still indicates that the tire is above the legal limit.
Worn tires are never as safe as the day they are fitted. In wet weather conditions, tires are designed to displace as much as 30 liters per second at 50 mph (80km/h). At the minimum legal limit of 2/32 of an inch (1.6mm), the tire’s ability to displace water has been reduced by 50%. Aquaplaning may result, and the loss of steering and braking may result in a severe accident.
The concern with not rotating your tires should not be a financial one. The tires on your vehicle are the primary safety feature on your car. You can have the best car in the world, but worn tires can have fatal consequences.
How Much Does Tire Condition Impact Vehicle Performance?
Formula 1 and MotoGP racing fans can attest to the importance of tire strategy in racing. In the extreme conditions of racing, the success or failure of a driver is primarily linked to the ability to select the correct type of tire and manage the tires’ condition during the race.
The ability to accelerate, hold a stable line, brake late into corners, and speed around corners at the highest speed possible determines whether the driver will succeed.
Your vehicle may not be operating in such critical conditions as in motor racing, except in the event when you are faced with an emergency. Being able to stop or swerve to avoid a collision is critical. The other vehicle safety features like ABS braking and EBD work in conjunction with well-maintained tires.
Tire rotation is an essential part of tire management, required to optimize the safety of the driver, passengers, and pedestrians on our public roads. Rotating your tires is necessary if you live in areas where winter road conditions necessitate tire changes every six months. Places, where summer climate tires are required for year-round use, are subject to rainstorms and where the tire needs to help maintain safe traction.
Tire rotation is easy and can be done by any driver. It will provide good practice for when you have a flat tire. You can also have it done by professional tire fitment centers at little cost.