What Are the Benefits of Tire Rotation?

Many drivers tend to take their tires for granted. Especially nowadays, when some vehicles come standard with more interesting safety features, like automatic cruise control, backup cameras, and lane departure alert, to name a few. But your vehicle's tires not only play an important safety role, but they also have a lot to say when it comes to driving pleasure. Also, worn tires negatively affect fuel economy. So, when the rubber meets the road, you'll want to be sure that your tires are more than just roadworthy, but that they are in optimal condition. 

What Does Tire Rotation Involve?

Tires wear differently depending on where they're mounted. Front tires carry more weight, experience extra wear on the outside edges due to cornering, and for front-wheel drivetrains, propel the vehicle forward. Tire rotation refers to repositioning your vehicle's tires to spread the wear and extend the tire's life. Since the advent of radials, most manufacturers recommend the same side, front to rear swap, as opposed to a circular rotation. Most manufacturers recommend rotating your tires about every 3000 to 5000 miles, or each time you change your oil. Tires that get rotated regularly also provide improved traction and control. On All-Wheel Drive vehicles, unevenly worn tires may also put added stress on the drivetrain and undue wear on its components. Lastly, when the time comes to buy a new set, you will be able to replace all four at the same time, as opposed to mixing and matching two new tires with two worn tires. But tire maintenance doesn't end with regular rotation. Here are several more tips to help you keep your vehicle's tires in tip-top condition, extend their life, save you money, and keep you and your loved ones safe.

Check the Pressure Regularly

The National Highway Traffic Safety Association estimates that only 19% of drivers keep their tires properly inflated. Correctly inflated tires not only perform better, but they last longer and ride safer, as well. Tire pressure should be checked every 3000-miles, before long road trips, and seasonally - as outside air temperature affects your tire's pressure. Most vehicles have the manufacturer's recommended tire pressures listed on a placard located on the inside of the driverside door jamb. Almost all newer vehicles come with a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) that will display a warning light on your dashboard if any one or more of your vehicle's tires become critically out of range. Usually, this happens when one tire becomes too low, but it can also happen if you accidentally over-inflate a tire, as well. 

Check the Treads

A tire's tread depth also plays a large role in how it performs. New tires, or those with ample tread depth, grip the road far better than worn tires, especially on wet or snow-covered roads. How do you know when it's time for some new rubber? Simply insert a quarter into the tread with Washington upside down. If George's entire head is visible, that means there is less than 1/8th of an inch of tread remaining and it's time for a new set.

Stay in Alignment

Poor wheel alignment causes uneven tire wear. An annual wheel-alignment costs far less than having your tires wear out twice as fast as they should. Properly aligned wheels offer better handling, improved fuel mileage, and a smoother ride. 

Get the Right Tire for Your Needs

Finding the correct size tire for your vehicle is an easy job. Just check the same tag that has the tire pressure information. Or, even easier, ask your tire retailer. Along with the correct fitment, you'll also want the best tire for your lifestyle. Typically, OEM tires will offer the most comfortable and safest driving experience over the widest range of road conditions. But, where you drive, how you drive, and what type of vehicle you drive all have an impact on finding the best tire for your needs. Here are a few things to consider before your next tire purchase:

All-season Radials - All-season Radials are designed to perform well under the broadest range of conditions. More passenger vehicles use all-season radials than any other type of tire. All-Season Radials offer convenience (they can be left on the vehicle year-round) and work well in most situations. All-season radials come in several varieties, which include:

Touring - Quiet on most road surfaces, provides good handling, and a smooth ride. Most luxury manufacturers fit their vehicles with touring tires. 

Performance - Performance tires offer improved grip and cornering at higher speeds thanks to softer construction.

Winter Tires -  Also known as "Snow Tires," winter tires hold the road better on snow and ice-covered roads. Manufacturers employ a compound in winter tire construction that stays soft in cold temperatures, and provides improved grip and stopping ability. 

Light Truck Tires - More durable and perfect for offloading and pick-up trucks. 

So, don't take tire maintenance for granted. With a little due diligence, your tires will ride smoother, handle safer, and save you money in the long run.


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