Tire rotation patterns
Generally, if your car pulls to one side it means there is misalignment in wheels. Very common suggestion from garage technicians is to get your wheel rotated and aligned. Puzzled Ah!
Yes, rotating your wheels and wheel alignment is one of the best way to improve the life of your tires. But, rotating your tires isn’t as simple as it might sound. There are specific tire rotation patterns that should be followed, based on these factors:
- Whether your tires are directional or non-directional (directional tires have a tread pattern that is designed to rotate in one direction only)
- Whether your vehicle is front-wheel, rear-wheel, or all-wheel drive
- Whether you have a full-size spare tire or not
- Whether you have staggered fitment tires (different sizes and/or offsets on front and rear eg Tata Nano) or not.
1. Non-directional tires, same size and offset on front and rear:
As per standards three main rotation patterns can be used for most vehicles in India.
This pattern is mostly used in all of our front-wheel drive vehicles. The front tires move straight back to the rear, and the rear tires move to the opposite sides of the front axle.
For front-wheel drive vehicles, this is an alternate pattern that may be used instead of the Forward Cross. The front tires move to the opposite rear positions and the rear tires move to the opposite front positions.
This pattern is used for rear-wheel drive or 4-wheel drive vehicles. The rear tires move straight up to the front, while the front tires move to the opposite rear positions.
2. Rotation with spare
Now all of us make sure to maintain our spare tire as well, since in case of any exigency it can prove handy. Hence even if the need never arose still one should use rotate its spare tire to keep it operational. So, if your vehicle has a full-size, non-directional spare tire (one that isn’t branded “for temporary use”) and a wheel that’s the same size as your four main tires and wheels, you may want to consider the following rotation patterns to keep all five tires evenly worn. This is especially important for four-wheel drive and all-wheel drive vehicles, because if you need to use your spare tire and it has different wear than your other three tires, it could place undue force on the drive train of your vehicle due to the difference in tread depth.
First, check your vehicle owner’s manual to see if the manufacturer has recommended a tire rotation pattern; if so, follow those guidelines. If there is no rotation information available, consider the following patterns:
Forward cross for front-wheel drive
If your vehicle is front-wheel drive and you have non-directional tires with a full-size matching spare, the pattern at left above can be used. The rear tires move to the opposite front positions. The left front tire moves to the left rear position. The spare tire moves to the right rear position and the right front tire becomes the spare.
Rearward cross for rear-wheel drive or 4-wheel drive
If your vehicle is rear-wheel or 4-wheel drive with non-directional tires and a full-size matching spare, the pattern at right above can be used. The left rear tire moves to the left front position. The right rear tire moves to the right front position. The right front tire moves to the left rear position. The spare tire moves to the right rear position and the left front tire becomes the spare.
3. Tire rotation front to back
Directional tires are designed and constructed so that they always rotate in the same direction due to their tread pattern. If your tires are directional, they should only be rotated from front to back (or vice-versa) on the same side of the vehicle. If your vehicle has the same size and offset directional tires, it will use the pattern shown at the above left: the front tires move to the rear on the same side, and the rear tires move to the front axle on the same side of the vehicle.
If your vehicle has differently sized, non-directional tires on the front and rear axles, it will use the side-to-side pattern shown to the right above. The front tires move to the opposite side of the front axle and the rear tires go to the opposite rear side. If your vehicle has differently-sized directional tires on the front and rear, the tires will need to be dismounted from the wheels, and remounted and balanced on the opposite wheels.