How to Rotate Steel Belted Radial Tires

by Jody L. Campbell

Today, most passenger vehicles and light trucks use steel belted radial tires. Depending on the type of steel belted radial tire you have and the type of vehicle you have, you may find several different ways to rotate your tires that may even conflict with the recommendation of the manufacturer. The key is to rotate them following a strict mileage regimen and follow the same rotation pattern throughout the life of the tires.

How to Rotate Steel Belted Radial Tires

Locate the owner's manual of your vehicle and look up the manufacturer's recommended method of tire rotation. Keep the guide handy for reference.

Park the vehicle on a flat, level paved or concrete surface, apply the parking brake and remove the keys from the ignition.

Break the lug nuts loose on all four tires, using the breaking bar and socket.

Lift one axle of the vehicle at a time and secure it on jack stands (all four) either under the frame or on the rocker panels.

Determine if your steel belted tires have a directional pattern. There will be an arrow or the word "directional" stamped on the sidewall of the tire. You will also be able to see the tread on either side of the tire pointing inward to the center of the tread. If they do, this will dictate or supersede any crisscross-recommended rotation pattern for the tires. You will not be able to crisscross them and will have to rotate them front to back only.

Follow the recommended rotation pattern of the tires located in the owner's manual, if applicable. If there is none and the tires are non-directional, you can still choose to rotate them front to rear. That means taking the left front to the left rear and the left rear to the left front. Follow the same pattern on the right side.

Crisscross the tires on a front-wheel drive vehicle by taking the front tires and moving them straight to the back axle. Then crisscross the left rear tire to the front right and the right rear tire to the left front.

Rotate the tires in a crisscross pattern on a rear-wheel, all-wheel or four-wheel drive vehicle by crisscrossing the front tires to the rear axle. In other words, the left front would go to the right rear and the right front would go to the left rear. The rear tires would move straight forward, with the left rear moving to left front and the right rear to right front.

Replace the lug nuts and tighten snugly. Lower the vehicle and hand torque the lug nuts with the torque wrench and socket to the recommended torque specifications for your vehicle.

Tip

  • check Yet another way to rotate rear-wheel, all-wheel and four-wheel drive vehicles is to crisscross all the tires. Go from left front to right rear, right front to left rear, left rear to right front, and right rear to left front. The type of rotation is up to the driver and what his personal taste is. Some people (and tire manufacturers) do not recommend crossing the belt of a tire in a rotation procedure (meaning no crisscrossing at all and only rotating front to rear no matter what kind of vehicle). The most important thing to remember is to rotate (in any pattern) your tires every 6,000 (for four-wheel or all-wheel drive vehicles) miles or 9,000 (for two-wheel drive vehicles) miles and you will get the most life out of the tires.

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About the Author

Jody L. Campbell spent over 15 years as both a manager and an under-car specialist in the automotive repair industry. Prior to that, he managed two different restaurants for over 15 years. Campbell began his professional writing career in 2004 with the publication of his first book.