How to Know When to Rotate Your Tires

Why do we need to rotate our cars’ wheels – aren’t they rotating all the time? Actually, what we mean by rotating tires is different; the rotation of tires means changing their position on the car. So, the front tires may go to the back. They can be exchanged diagonally, or even from left to right.

Why do we do such a thing? Tires at different positions on your car tend to wear unevenly. Front tires wear down on the outside edges since they take a lot of friction in turns. Rear tires tend to wear more evenly as their job is to follow the front tires but sometimes alignment imbalance can cause them to wear unevenly too.

All this uneven wear can force you to replace tires miles before you needed to if you would have just rotated your tires. Rotated tires also make for a smoother ride and better handling.

How Often Should Tires Be Rotated?

How to Know When to Rotate Your Tires

Most manufacturers recommend that if you rotate your tires after every 5000 miles, you will extend you tire’s life significantly. If you don’t do so, the manufacturer may even invalidate the warranty. Apart from counting miles, you can also look for some specific signs of wear that tell you clearly when it’s time to rotate.

Signs Tires Need to Be Rotated

A lot of factors may cause uneven wear on the tires. Under or over inflation, using the wrong size of tires and poor alignment can all cause increased uneven wear. However, if caught early, all of these can be fixed.

Excessive wear on one tire can be simply fixed by moving it to another position. If the problem of uneven wear is caused by malfunctioning suspension, alignment or steering assembly, then the only solution is to get the problem fixed.

Excessive Wear on the Middle of the Tread

If you observe that the middle of the tire is more worn out than the edges, then the culprit is over-inflation. Over-inflation can change the shape of the inflated tire in such a way that the bulk of the weight of the vehicle is carried by the middle portion of the tire. This causes it to wear down faster than the edges. The obvious solution is to inflate your tires to the specification mentioned by the manufacturer.

Excessive Wear on the Outer Edges

If you see that the tires are worn out more on the edges than in the center, then it is again an inflation issue. The tires are deforming in such a way that the bulk of the weight is carried by the edges causing it wear out faster. Again, inflation according to the manufacturer’s recommended specification solves the problem.


Feathering is more of a tactile observation than a visual one. You can check for feathering by running your hand over the tread. If you feel like one side of each tread rib is rounded over, and the other side is extremely sharp then we can say that the tire has feathered. Incorrect toe-in can cause feathering of tires. While a certain amount of toe-in needed, an excess puts pressure and wears out the tires. The solution is to get your alignment corrected by a technician at a top maintenance and repair service center.

One Side of the Tire Is Wearing Faster Than the Other

Sometimes you may observe that outside of the tire is wearing out faster than the inside or vice-versa this points towards the vehicle alignment being out of whack. The problem is most likely with the camber. The outward or inward lean of the car on the vertical axis is called camber. This changes on the load being carried by the vehicle.

A worn-down suspension and the compression of the springs can change the camber. Also, you should make sure that the vehicle is loaded with its normal operating weight when alignment is being set.


Look for a scallop-shaped structure on the edge of the tire tread to check for cupping. Cupping is caused by either a faulty steering component or damaged suspension. You will most likely need to replace the damaged component. Alignment alone will not solve your problem. If you rotate the tires, you could keep using the car further, but eventually, the problem will occur again until you get it fixed.

Second Rib Is Wearing

When the second rib of your tire is wearing out, you can be sure that your tires are of the wrong size. Steel belted radial tires are the tires with this problem. The exact reason is that the metal rim your tires are mounted on is narrower than your tire. Generally, you do see a certain amount of wear on these ribs but if you see a larger than a normal amount you’ve got to get yourself a narrower set of tires before the problem compounds.

Bubbles in the Sidewall

At times you may see that there are bubbles in the sidewall of the tires. This indicates that the tire might have rubbed against or hit a solid object. The only solution, in this case, is the replacement of the tire - and better sooner than later else the tire may pop.

Checking Tires

How to Know When to Rotate Your Tires

All this information will be useless if you don’t check your tires on a regular interval. You should always measure the pressure of the tires with a pressure gauge. When you are adjusting the pressure in tires, you should look for the signs as mentioned above of wear. This two-step process will help you keep your tires in good condition.


In conclusion, how often the tires are rotated depends upon many factors such as vehicle type, rear-wheel drive or a front-wheel drive, type of tires, and size of tires. However, most light-truck and car tires should be rotated every 5000 miles if nothing but to maintain the warranty.

It is important to check regularly for tire wear if you want to extend the life of your tire. Since there are a lot of ways a tire can get damaged regular vigilance is the only way to maintain tire health. Measuring the depth of the tread is pretty simple by using a tread gauge. If that is not available use a coin to estimate tread depth.

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