There's been a lot of discussion about tyre rotation, some people swear by it and others are now advising against it. Put simply tyre rotation is the process of changing the position of the wheels and tyres on your car to help them wear more evenly and therefore extend their life and ultimately save you money. Some people have reported as much as 5,000 extra kilometers from a set of tyres if they rotate them. The other reason people rotate their tyres is when they have been bought in pairs. The two new tyres will obviously be in better condition than the two older tyres. The crux of the debate is on whether the new tyres, which are likely to produce more grip should be fitted to the front or the rear of the car.
The majority of cars on the road are front wheel drive so we'll use a front wheel drive car for the purpose of this example: In the past, it was advised that your 'best' ie newest tyres should be on the front of the car because up to 70% of the braking force is transmitted to the road via the front wheels, as is 100% of the accelerative force & also greater cornering forces, so in theory it would make sense to have your 'best' tyres on the front. It sounds counter-intuitive but tyre companies & retailers such as Quick Fit are now advising that your 'best' tyres should be on the back. The reasoning behind this is that they feel a loss of front end grip is easier to control than a car that loses rear end grip - ie understeer is easier to control than oversteer.....and they probably have a point, after all car manufacturers have been engineering cars understeer by default for years because they are more predictable and user friendly . The instinctive reaction to any loss of grip for the vast majority of people will be to immediately lift off the throttle and get on the brakes, which is exactly what you want to do if the car is understeering and the exact opposite of what you want to do if it's oversteering.
When Should You Do It?
Generally speaking, every six months, or 6,000 miles – whichever comes first. The method of tyre rotation is different for the 3 different drive layouts eg front wheel drive, rear wheel drive and four wheel drive. Also if your tyres are directional, there's a different set of rules - we'll go through each one:
Front Wheel Drive Tyre Rotation
Assuming your tyres are not directional, the diagram below shows the correct method for front wheel drive tyre rotation. You'll need all four wheel up in the air to perform this change over. The front right tyre moves to the rear right, the rear right moves to the front left, the front left moves to the rear left and the rear left moves to the front right.
Rear Wheel Drive Tyre Rotation
Again, assuming your tyres are not directional, the diagram below shows the correct method for rear wheel drive tyre rotation. You'll need all four wheel up in the air to perform this change over too. The front right tyre moves the the rear left, the front left moves to the rear right, the rear right moves to the front right and the rear left moves to the front left.
Four Wheel Drive Tyre Rotation
For non directional tyres, the diagram below shows the correct method for four wheel drive tyre rotation. Again, you'll need all four wheel up in the air to perform this change over. The front right tyre moves the rear left, the rear left moves to the front right, the front left moves to the rear right and the rear right moves to the front left.
For Cars With Directional Tyres
If you have directional tyres this is the method of tyre rotation, regardless of what type of drivetrain your car has. You can make these changes with just one side of the car in the air. The front right tyre moves to the rear right, the rear right moves to the front right, the front left moves to the rear left and the rear left moves to the front left. Note:
The tread pattern on directional tyres is designed specifically to work in a certain way and should not be fitted so that the tyre rotates in the wrong direction, to do so would be dangerous.
It's important to note that some cars have different sized wheels front to back (common on rear wheel drive high performance models) and these should not be rotated.
Recently we rotated the tyres on our Project GTi
and filmed a quick video
while we were at it. We're also looking for your input on which new tyres to go for, why not check out the video and let us know what you recommend: