Introduction: How to Rotate Vehicle Tires

Technical Difficulty: 2/5

Whether you have been working on cars for years, or are more of the type who has never performed simple tasks like checking fluid levels, be assured you can quickly and easily learn to rotate tires.

Step 1: Gather Tools

Tools:

  • Socket
  • Torque Wrench
  • Jack
  • 2 Jack Stands
  • 4 Wheel Chocks or Wood Blocks or Rocks


Note: There are several types of jacks
that will work. Pay attention to the load limit of the jack. The jack should be rated to handle at least half of the gross vehicle weight. If your car weighs 4000 lbs, then you would want to get at least a 1 ton jack (2000 = 4000/2). The same rule applies for jack stands.

WARNING: FAILURE TO USE A STRONG ENOUGH JACK / JACK STANDS COULD RESULT IN DAMAGE TO YOUR VEHICLE AND/OR INJURY.

Note: If you have access to an air compressor, hose, and an impact air gun, you may use them to more quickly remove the lug nuts.

Step 2: Prep the Vehicle

2A: Ensure that the vehicle is in park and that the emergency brake is engaged.

2B: Block the front and back sides of the rear tires to prevent the vehicle from rolling in either direction.

2C: Loosen all of the lug nuts on every tire until they spin easily (1 or 2 turns) using the diagram.

Note: Don’t forget 2C. If you don’t loosen the lug nuts before the tire is jacked you will find that they will be much more difficult to remove.

Step 3: Remove a Tire

Which tire you start with doesn't matter. What matters is the order that they are swapped out. The diagrams show you which pattern to follow for your vehicle.

3A: Locate the frame of your vehicle close to the tire that you will start with, and place the jack directly beneath it.

WARNING: JACKING UP WEAKER PARTS OF THE UNDERCARRIAGE MAY CAUSE THEM TO BEND AND BREAK.

3B: Jack the vehicle up until the tire closest to the jack is about an inch above the ground.

3C: Place a jack stand adjacent to the jack, directly below the frame.

3D: Lower the jack until the weight rests on the jack stand.

Note: Make sure that the tire is still not touching the ground. If it is touching, you will need to jack the frame higher so that the jack stand can also be extended higher up.

Note: You can use a block of wood, or other sturdy material to make your jack taller.

3E: Take the Tire off and set it next to the tire that it will replace.

Step 4: Remove the Next Tire

4A: Look at the diagram to determine which tire is moving to the now empty spot. That is the tire you are going to want to remove next.

4B: Repeat Step 3A-E for that tire.

4C: Put the second tire in the place of the first one that you removed and replace the lug nuts. Tighten them until the tire begins to spin. Use the same pattern as before.

4D: Remove the jack stand and lower the jack until it can be removed.

4E: Check to see what torque your specific vehicle calls for here: Wheel Torque.

Note: When in doubt on the torque, 85 foot-pounds is a happy medium for most cars.

4F: Set the torque wrench to the appropriate setting and tighten them in the same pattern as you loosened them before.

Step 5: Rotate the Remaining Tires

5A: Continue rotating your tires until they have all been rotated, again referring to Step 3A-E.

5B: When you have rotated all of the tires, remove the jack and all of the jack stands. Check every lug nut on every tire to ensure that it is tightened at the appropriate torque.

WARNING: FAILURE TO CHECK THE LUG NUTS COULD RESULT IN LOOSE OR RUNAWAY TIRES, CAUSING SEVERE INJURY OR DEATH.

5C: Remove the wheel chocks and put all of your tools away.

 

You’re Done!

Now that you have successfully rotated your tires, you have increased confidence in yourself, saved money, and will most likely be able to rotate them quicker next time.

Comments

author
Wildbilly66 (author)2015-12-22

I thought you weren't supposed to cross radial tires. Only move them to the same side.

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