Tire Rotation

Knowing when it’s time for a tire rotation.

In Bergen County, car maintenance is part of life because so many drivers in Northern New Jersey rely on their cars daily. No doubt you’ve been offered a tire rotation when you take your car in for a routine maintenance or oil change. How do you know if it’s time for a tire rotation?

Nomad Oil - Tire Rotation Illustration

Engines, styling, in-car technology, and even “French-stitched Napa leather” (I’m not sure exactly what that is) get all the attention when it comes to cars. However the unsung heroes that give your car many of its abilities are your tires. They grip a variety of road surfaces in a variable weather conditions, even at high speed, and also act as part of your car’s suspension by soaking up bumps. Tires themselves are multi-layered devices molded from sophisticated rubber compounds and highly-tested tread patterns depending on their purpose. When you think about all that tires do, they’re pretty amazing . . . Which is why they’re expensive.

Long live the tire

Tires are wear-and-tear items. That means they have a useful life, and tires are expected to gradually wear down until they need to be replaced. The catch is, some tires on your car wear faster than others. Front tires typically wear faster than rear tires because they do the steering, support the weight of the engine, and most often transmit power to the ground too. In order to get the most out of your investment, you want to spread the wear around. Tire Rotation helps your tires wear evenly, so all 4 tires get a more similar lifespan. Tires have a hard life in New Jersey, so if you’re a driver in Bergen County, tire rotation will help your set of tires and your car last longer.

Aren’t my tires always rotating?

The definition of “tire rotation” is a bit different than what it sounds like: tire rotation refers to switching the location of the tires on the car. There is no actual spinning/rotation involved and the tires (the rubber part) actually stay on your rim (the metal part). Each wheel is relocated to another corner of the car; think of it like musical chairs for your car’s wheels.

How a tire rotation works.

Your car is elevated off the ground, and then the wheels are unbolted from the car’s axles and bolted back on in a different spot. The most common type of rotation simply swaps your car’s front and back wheels. If a tire is wearing unevenly, your technician may swap front and back AND change which side the tires are on. Some cars only swap side-to-side, and some only front-to-back, due to specialized wheel and tire designs.

When is it time for a tire rotation?

Tread Wear Indicator or Wear Bar - Nomad OilIf your more-worn tires are on the front wheels, it’s safe to say it’s time for a rotation because the front tires typically wear down faster and play a more active role in safety and handling. In other words, a tire rotation will leave you with the freshest rubber on the most important wheels. Many technicians use a 5,000 mile rule of thumb for tire rotations, although depending on driving habits your interval could be longer or shorter. Nomad offers mobile tire rotation in New Jersey, and we recommend it (or don’t) for our clients based on inspecting the tires, so we aren’t promoting unnecessary service.

Other tire wear to look out for

If a tire is under-inflated or over-inflated, the sides or center of the tread will wear out faster. It also won’t grip the road in the way it was designed to; think about trying to roll a flat soccer ball. That’s why we check and correct tire inflation – for free – at every mobile oil change we deliver.

Also, if your car is out of alignment – the wheels aren’t rolling completely straight on the road – the asymmetrical friction on the ground can create lopsided wear on one side of a tire. Rotation can help spread out and delay the effects of this wear, but to prevent it you will need to get your car’s wheels aligned. An alignment is more economical than prematurely replacing a set of tires.