Rotating tires is the practice of moving wheels and tires from one position on the car, to another, to ensure even tire wear. This procedure ensures each tire will be exposed to different situations and wear factors throughout its life. Uneven tire wear can be caused by a variety of reasons. Even tire wear is desirable to maintain consistent performance and maximum tire life.
Tire Wear & Tear
Uneven tire wear is normally caused by four conditions. First is tire inflation, second is vehicle design, third is vehicle use, and fourth is mechanical problems.
Tire inflation is the most common cause of tire wear and steering problems. Chronically operating in an under or over-inflated state causes tires to wear unevenly. In severe cases incorrect tire inflation can cause safety issues such as difficulty handling and risk of tire failure.
Front wheel drive vehicles typically wear their front tires far quicker than rear drive vehicles and require more frequent tire rotation. The extra weight of the front mounted motor and transmission causes extra load on the front tires. This extra forward placed weight also places greater vehicle braking (stopping) demands on the front tires. The normal additional wear from the strain of being the steering wheels is further compounded by the front wheels being the powered wheels. The extra load of front wheel drive causes the front tires to wear out at almost twice the rate of the rear tires.
Four-wheel drive vehicles exhibit the same wear patterns as front wheel drive patterns.
Steering the vehicle causes greater wear to the outside, front tire. As a vehicle turns greater weight is placed on the outer tire causing it to wear quicker than the opposite tire. Conversely the sidewalls on the right tire tends to be bumped and rubbed against the curb while parking the vehicle, causing asymmetric sidewall wear.
Hard vehicle acceleration and braking also quickly wear the front tires due to slippage and the high heat generated with tire spin. Fast driving and cornering also place high loads on tires and result in fast, uneven tire wear.
Suspension mechanical problems in the vehicle cause uneven tire wear. The wheels need to be aligned with each other and the vehicle. The wheel that is out of alignment will be dragged along by the other wheels, causing uneven wear in that tire. If the alignment is such that the vehicle tends to turn, the driver will correct by steering against the tendency. In effect the vehicle is constantly turning, causing uneven tire wear.
For maximum tire life check and adjust tire pressures monthly and rotate tires on a regular basis.