Tech 101: Rotating Tires

Now that winter has turned to spring, it’s time to take hobby cars out of storage and rotate wheels and tires, or perhaps time to swap from winter wheels and tires to a set of wheels shod with three-season tires. While the path of least resistance may be taking the car to a local garage or dealership, doing the work yourself delivers a few benefits. Tires can be inspected for wear before a minor alignment issue requires both repair and a new set of rubber, and doing the work yourself ensures that lug bolts are properly tightened via a torque wrench, and not with an impact gun dialed to its highest setting.

As the mechanics of jacking up a car and removing the wheels are likely well known to Hemmings readers, we won’t cover them here. We will remind you to observe all necessary safety practices, such as ensuring the car is in gear (or in Park, for automatic transmissions) with the parking brake firmly applied. Always use jack stands to support the car, and ensure that the jack stands are strong enough for the weight of the vehicle.

Once the car is in the air, with the wheels and tires off, the Rubber Manufacturers Association recommends specific patterns for rotation of four tires on vehicles using identically sized, non-directional tires, as illustrated in these diagrams provided by the Tire Rack.

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