How Often to Rotate Tires


Tires cost a lot of money. If you want to get the most life out of your rubber, it’s a good idea to have them periodically rotated to ensure even wear, saving you cash in the long run. Here’s how often to do it, including advice from an expert.



a person standing in front of a car: Want to make the most of your tires? We have tips from an expert on how often you should rotate them.


© Aaron Brown
Want to make the most of your tires? We have tips from an expert on how often you should rotate them.

Road & Track spoke with Kevin Hines, senior technician at McLaren Philadelphia, to learn how often tires should be rotated. Hines is North America’s only factory-certified McLaren F1 technician, which means his day job revolves around working on $20 million exotics. If anyone understands how tire rotations work, it’s him.

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Can My Tires Be Rotated?

Not all cars can have their tires rotated. If your wheels are staggered, with differently sized tires front to rear, you won’t be able to perform a tire rotation. You can only have your tires rotated if all four are the same size.

To find out whether your tires can be rotated, check your owner’s manual or simply look at the tires and compare sizes front to rear.

How Often to Rotate Your Tires

Hines will be the first to tell you to consult your owner’s manual for exact intervals at which to rotate your tires. Your manufacturer will know exactly how many miles between rotations you should travel, and the exact pattern your tires will need to be rotated. Before reading any further, we suggest doing that first.

As for Hines’ personal tire rotation schedule: for his daily-driver pickup truck, he rotates his tires every other oil change, which comes out to around every 15,000 miles. Planning tire rotations around oil changes makes it easy to perform both tasks at the same time while the car is in for service.

How Your Tires Should Be Rotated

Exactly how you should rotate your tires will be laid out clearly in your owner’s manual. Some manufacturers call for the tires on the front and rear axles to be switched, with no changes going left to right. Other carmakers suggest taking the left rear tire and mounting it on the right front, mounting the rear right tire on the left front, and bringing the two front tires to the rear without switching sides.



a wheel of a car: diy pictures


© Aaron Brown
diy pictures

“There are a bunch of different schools of thought,” Hines says.“The old-timers who brought me up will say that it’s possible that, depending on the type of tire and how you drive, the belts in the actual rubber can wear or get used to the direction that they travel. So if you have a tire that’s had that happen and take it from the left side and put it on the right, it could make noise, create a pull, or [generate] a weird feeling.”

As for Hines’ personal car?“Most of the time I just go straight front to back,” he says.“Just rotate the axles and keep the tires and wheels on the same side of the car, switching them front to back.”

How Often to Rotate Your Tires if You’re Tracking Your Car

If you go to track days often, you’re going to put more stress on your tires and cause them to wear faster. You should adjust your tire rotation method and schedule to compensate for that extra wear. Even if you have a set of dedicated track day tires that only see a couple hundred miles a year, you should have a specific rotation schedule in place to ensure you get the most life out of them.

It’s unlikely your car’s manufacturer will have a suggested tire rotation schedule adjusted for frequent track days, so figuring out how often to rotate your track car’s tires will be up to you. Hines suggests asking a local with some know-how to get an informed opinion.



a person driving a race car on a road: miata lime rock autocross


© Brian Silvestro
miata lime rock autocross

“Find somebody at your track who has a lot of experience and has been doing it for a long time and ask them what they do,” he says.“Reference an expert source for your particular application.”

It’s also a good idea to periodically inspect your tires’ wear patterns to gain insight into how and when to rotate them.

I drive my car at New Jersey Motorsports Park, which is hard on the left side [tires],” Hines says.“So once every couple of days I’ll swap them left to right, if the wear pattern is showing that I should do that. But most of the time I just leave them where they are and just go with it.”

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