By Anthony Santiago - Editor-in-Chief

September 21, 2022
how to rotate your tires at home

The Quick and Easy Way on How to Rotate Car Tires at Home

Tire rotation is one of those things you do without thinking about it. You just know it needs to be done. But how often should you actually perform a tire rotation? And what does it mean to "rotate" your tires anyway? Read on to find out how to rotate car tires at home.

Most car owners will agree that rotating tires is important. It helps prevent tire wear and prolongs the life of your tires. But how do you rotate your tires without having to go to the shop?

There are many reasons why you should rotate your tires, but most importantly, it prevents uneven wear and increases traction. In this post, we'll cover how to properly rotate your tires at home. We'll also talk about the important safety tips to ensure your protection and reduce any risk.

But with a little bit of planning, you can save yourself from wasting valuable time and gas driving around town looking for a tire shop. Instead, you can easily rotate your car tires at home using these simple instructions and with tools you might already have with you.

Like I mentioned, I'm going to teach you everything you need to know to safely and effectively change your car tires at home.

The Importance of Tire Rotation

Your car relies on the rubber tread on each of its four wheels to grip the road surface and keep you moving forward. If your tires are worn down too much, however, they won't provide enough traction to maintain control of the vehicle. This can lead to dangerous situations like skidding off the road or losing control altogether. Hydroplaning can easily occur if your tire tread is too low.

I personally experienced this a few years ago, where the inner tire tread was already worn down to the nylon. That is very dangerous and should be avoided as much as possible.

The main point I'm trying to make is that regular tire rotation is important both for safety and longevity.

Rotating your tires every few months ensures that the tread pattern wears evenly across the entire contact patch. In addition, the tread patterns help distribute weight evenly among the four corners of the vehicle, reducing stress on individual wheel bearings and components.

What tools do you need for a tire rotation?

  1. Lug Wrench
  2. Car Jack
  3. Jack stands (preferable)
  4. Wheel Chock

Tools Needed

How to rotate your car tires at home

1. Lug Wrench - If your car has a spare tire in the rear trunk, then more than likely you will have a lug wrench available. If not you can purchase a universal lug wrench at your local auto parts store or on Amazon.

how to rotate your tires at home

2. Car Jack - Along with your spare tire, your trunk should include a car jack. While you can use your car jack, it's VERY important for your safety. You want to ensure you are NEVER under the car. Always stay a safe distance when removing tires to avoid any risk of the vehicle falling down.

A car jack is an essential piece of equipment that every mechanic needs. Whether you work on cars, trucks, SUVs or vans, there is no doubt that you need a good quality car jack to lift vehicles.

There are several types of car jacks out there, including hydraulic, mechanical, pneumatic and electric. Each type offers benefits over the others, depending on what you want to do.

The best way to determine which type of jack is right for you is to consider how much weight you plan to lift. If you plan on lifting heavy objects such as pickup truck beds, you might prefer a heavier duty model. On the other hand, if you just need something to raise your car off the ground to change tires, you could go with a lighter model.

how to rotate tires at home

3. Jack Stands - These are metal stands that are placed under the frame or jack points to ensure a secure position as you remove and mount tires. A car jack is used to lift up cars off the ground. It is usually attached to a vehicle to help you raise the vehicle off the ground. When you use a car jack, you must make sure that the vehicle is properly aligned before lifting it up. If the wheels are unevenly spaced apart, the car jack won’t be able to support the weight of the vehicle.

how to rotate tires at home

4. Wheel Chock - You can use a heavy brick or rock in place of an official wheel chock. The wheel chock is placed under the opposite side of the vehicle.

If you do not have a car jack, you will have to purchase a jack. If you are like most people, you probably don’t carry around a spare set of tools. You might think that you have everything you need, but there could always be something else that you forgot about. This is why it is better to purchase some extra tools ahead of time.

Step 1: Place car in Park (P), Set Emergency Brake, and Wheel Chock

Be sure to set your car in park. Your safety is the utmost priority. Never, ever be under the car when you are changing tires. You need to be as safe as possible. Also, pull up or engage your parking brake as well.

Step 2: Work on One Tire at a Time

Depending on your tools, you will need to install your spare tire in order to rotate your set. Otherwise, you will need a set of jack stands to raise your car so that two tires are off the ground at the same time. You will work on removing one tire at a time and moving it to the new position. 

Step 3: Break Free Lug Nuts but Do Not Remove yet

Take the lug wrench and loosen the lug nuts. DO NOT remove them yet. You simply want to break them free. It might take some force to break them free but more of the time it is about 90/ ft-lbs of force when the lug nuts are torqued. 

You will turn in the counterclockwise direction to remove the lug nuts. 

Step 4: Lift car so that Tire is offer the ground

Take the car jack and place it under the jack point. Lift the car off the ground until the tire is off the ground. This will allow you to easily remove the tire and wheel from the hub. 

Step 5: Remove Lug Nut

 With the car off the ground, now you can remove the lug nuts from the wheel. Be sure to keep the lug nuts in a safe place. You do not want to misplace them. 

Step 6: Remove Wheel

Once the lugs are off, you can remove the wheel from the car. If the wheel is stuck on the hub, you can kick the tire with the back sole of your shoe to break it free.

Step 7: More the tire to the Rear or Front

 Depending on the tire rotation pattern, use the front cross or the rear cross method. Move the tire to the next position for your tire rotation. 

Step 8: Install Spare and Mount Lug Nuts Again

 At this point in the process, you will want to mount your spare tire in order to be able to lower your car on the ground. Install the lug nuts in a star pattern and do not over torque your lug nuts.  Proper placement of your rotation pattern is critical. 

Step 9: Lower Car on Ground and Repeat the Steps for Other Tires

Follow the steps from Step 1 to Step 8 for the remainder of the tires. Be sure to torque the tires correctly and go for a drive. If you experience a wobble or shaking, then you should head to your tire shop for a wheel balance. 

Once you have competed your tire rotation, you can check the PSI or air pressure of your tires. We have an article to help answer the questions, what is the best PSI for car tires

When Should I Perform My First Tire Rotation?

You'll want to start rotating your tires once they've been driven about 10,000 miles. At this point, you should be able to notice some uneven wear on the tread. If you don't see any signs of uneven wear, you might consider waiting until the next scheduled maintenance appointment.

The NHTSA recommends tire rotation every 5,000 - 8,000 miles, unless there is premature tire wear.

I typically like to rotate around the same time as my annual oil change. While my vehicles use full synthetic oil with 15,000 oil change intervals (OCI), I like to change oil every 5,000 - 7,500 miles. Oil is a cheap investment for a new engine.

Identify Rotation Pattern for Your Vehicle

Rotating your tires will depend on the drivetrain and transmission of your vehicle. Plus you will need to examine the tread wear currently on your car to see if any other work is required. The following section is for non-directional tires. 

The difference between front and rear wheel drive vehicles is fairly simple. In both cases, you have a transmission that sends power to the wheels. However, there are some differences. When it comes to front wheel drive, the transmission connects directly to the front axle. This allows the entire drivetrain to rotate together. On the other hand, rear wheel drive uses a differential to split the power to each individual wheel. As a result, the transmission rotates independently from the rest of the car.

If your car is front wheel drive, your front tires will wear out faster. If your car is RWD, then your rear tires will experience more wear. This is because of the friction or force of the rubber on the road to move the vehicle. 

This is one of the main reasons we advise to accelerate slowly to help extend the life of your tires. 

How to Rotate Car Tires at Home

Front-Wheel Drive Vehicles

The rotation pattern for front wheel drive vehicles is to move the front tire directly to the rear, then cross the rear tires to the front. This is called the forward cross pattern.This will help ensure even wear for the rear tires since they are flipped left to right and right to left. 

How to Rotate Car Tires at Home

Rear-wheel Drive Vehicles or All-Wheel Drive Vehicles

The tire rotation pattern for rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive cars is called rear-cross, where the rear tires are placed in the front position and the front tires are crossed in the rear. 

What about Staggered Tire Set up?

If your tires are staggered then you will use the side to side rotation. This is the only option since you should not place wider tires in the front and narrower in the rear. It will cause understeer. 

How to Rotate Car Tires at Home

Non-Directional and Directional Tires

Most tires are non-directional. This means that you can mount the tires in either direction. This makes rotation easy. However, if you have directional tires, you will need to follow the Side-toSide tire rotation above. 

Recap: How to Rotate Car Tires at Home

In conclusion, tire rotation is a simple process that takes less than an hour. But because it's such a common task, it's easy to overlook the importance of doing it regularly. By following these steps, you'll ensure that your tires stay safe and sound for years to come.

The first step is to remove the old tire from its wheel. Then, using a jack, lift the car onto its wheels. Next, use a wrench to loosen the lug nuts that hold the tire to the wheel. Finally, turn the tire over and tighten the lugs back up. Once you've finished, check the tread depth and replace the tire if necessary. 

If you have any questions about rotating your tires, please feel free to ask us here. We'd be happy to answer any questions you might have.

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Anthony Santiago - Editor-in-Chief

About the author

I am a passionate car enthusiast who likes to help people save money and avoid headaches when it comes to cars. I believe that everyone can find the right car at the right price. I share my tips and experience so you can learn quickly and maximize your next SUV, truck or car purchase.

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