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How do I Rotate Tires?

By Misty Amber Brighton
Updated May 23, 2024
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In order to rotate tires, you should first park your car on level ground and keep safety in mind throughout the job. You will need a few tools to complete this task, like a torque wrench and a jack to raise the vehicle. Rotation is accomplished by switching the tires, to even their wear from use. Doing this can increase the life of your tires and give your automobile a smoother ride.

Before beginning this job, check to make sure the spot where you plan to rotate tires is flat and smooth. Move your car to this area and place it in park. Place a chock block, a square piece of wood, behind the front tires as an added precaution to keep the car from slipping backward.

Use a torque wrench, which is a tool designed to help remove lug nuts, to loosen them. There are normally five on each tire. Turn the device in a counter-clockwise rotation for one or two turns, then place this tool aside.

Get the car jack that came with your vehicle — it is probably located in the trunk. You may also use a larger device called a floor jack, if one is available. Place the jack on the frame of the vehicle, near the center of it, on one side. Move the lever of the jack up and down until all four tires are lifted one to two inches (2.54 to 5.08 cm) off the ground. Then place a jack stand on each corner of the automobile to keep it in place while you rotate tires.

Once this has been accomplished, completely remove all the lug nuts by turning them counter-clockwise, and place them to the side. You are now ready to rotate tires. Starting on the left side of the vehicle, place the rear tire on the front of the car and move the one in front to the back. Repeat this process on the right side of the automobile.

After all the tires are in place, place the lug nuts back on the stems. You can now pick up the torque wrench again, place it over the lug nuts, and turn it to the right in order to tighten them into place. After, try to wiggle them, to make sure they are securely in position before setting the car down on the ground.

Jack the car up approximately 1/2-inch (1.27 cm), then pull the jack stands out from under the car. Slowly press the lever of the jack down until the car is sitting back on the ground. You are now finished with these tools and may put them away.

Tires often wear unevenly, which can cause them to need replacing more frequently than recommended by their manufacturer. It can also create unsafe operating conditions for many drivers. If you rotate your tires on a regular basis, you can potentially eliminate these factors and save money while doing so.

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Discussion Comments
By Rotergirl — On Jun 26, 2014

I can kind of see changing your own oil, if you have the tools and a decent jack, but rotating the tires? Nope. Not unless you've got better tools than most home mechanics. I've heard of it being done at home, but most of the time, it was by people who have a professional set of tools, and also work as mechanics. They may have a quality jack and an electric wrench.

The actual process is like changing four tires, so it's not difficult. It's just a time consuming job.

By Pippinwhite — On Jun 26, 2014

This is one of those jobs that takes a shop about 30 minutes, but would take me all day to do. Really, you need a lift and a hydraulic wrench to do the job efficiently. A hydraulic wrench (like they use the pits at a car race) will take the nuts off the wheel cover in a flash. It takes a while to do it by hand.

Also, if it's been a good while since the tires were rotated, they may also need balancing, and this is a job only a professional can do. They have a machine that tells them when a tire is out of balance.

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