Rotating and balancing your tires are two separate jobs, and are independent of wheel alignment. While the jobs are often done at the same time, they can and regularly do get done independently of each other. It is generally recommended that you rotate your tires every 3,000 to 8,000 miles depending on your vehicle and driving conditions. It is recommended that you have your tires balanced every 4,000 to 6,000 miles. Again depending on your vehicle, and driving conditions. As always please consult your owner's manual or OEM dealer for recommendations on your specific make and model.
Tire and wheel balancing is a process that compensates for weight imbalances between the wheel assembly and tire. Weights are placed on the wheel in order to "balance" the entire wheel and tire assembly to provide a smooth ride. There are two basic types of balancing: static and dynamic.
Tire rotation is an easy but important piece of vehicle maintenance that will improve vehicle performance and save you money on tires over the long term. Rotating your tires on a regular interval can help even out wear from side-to-side and front to back. This will allow the tires to perform at their best, while also keep extending the life of the tires.
The tires on your front axle generally experience very different stress and perform different tasks than the tires on the rear axle.
Those task and the loads will also vary depending on your drive train. For instance, the stresses of a front-wheel drive (FWD) vehicle and an all-wheel drive (AWD) vehicle are quite different. Those differences will affect how and how often you rotate your tires. Please check with your owner’s manual for the proper interval and rotation pattern for your vehicle.
There are three generally accepted patterns of rotation for vehicles equipped with non-directional tires, and the same size rims front and rear. The diagrams below illustrate all three - figure A: Rearward Crossing, figure B: X-Pattern, and figure C: Forward Cross. You will note that Rearward Cross is for Rear and four-wheel drive vehicles, the X-Pattern can be done on all four wheeled vehicles, and the Forward Cross is for front-wheel drive vehicles.
A more recent trend on today’s vehicles is to use either directional tires or staggered wheel sizes. In response, the Tire & Rim Association has developed two acceptable rotational patterns. It is important to note that neither pattern provide even wear unless the tire is dismounted, remounted, and balanced. Figure D illustrates the pattern for vehicles with the same size directional tires at all four corners. Figure E illustrates the pattern staggered wheel size with non-directional tires.
While most vehicles do not come with five full-sized wheels, some still do. Vehicles like the Jeep Wrangler come with five full-sized tires and matching wheels. If this is the case for your car, you may want to rotate all five of them. If so, you should follow figures F and G.
On front-wheel drive vehicles, rotate the tires in a forward cross pattern. (Figure F)
On rear-wheel, all-wheel, or four-wheel drive vehicles, rotate the tires in a rearward cross pattern. (Figure G)
If you drive a vehicle with a dual rear axle, known as a “dually,” it is still important to rotate your tires. When you hit your service interval, you will want to inspect the wear of your vehicle so that you choose the correct pattern. Duallies are often used for many different kinds of jobs, and therefor are subjected to many different stresses. Each vehicle will wear differently depending on road conditions and vehicle use. In figure H you will see the four generally accepted patterns of rotation. As always, check with your vehicle's owner’s manual for guidance.
Hopefully we've answered all of your questions, but should you have more, or want to schedule an appointment to get your vehicle's tires rotated, balanced, or both, please give us a call at (866) 385-8059. You may also use our convenient online service scheduler to schedule your appointment.