Do I really need to rotate my tires?
The answer is yes, but let us examine why it is pertinent to your particular vehicle. Each vehicle wears tires differently. Front wheel, rear wheel, all wheel drive or part time 4×4, they all have different wear patterns, advantages and disadvantages.
Front wheel drive vehicles as per design tend to wear the front tires much more than the rears because all the power from the engine is supplied to the front wheels. If you are in the habit of doing hard accelerating and braking, your front tires will pay the ultimate price for your driving style. Also, the rear tires are left just bobbing around, the more aggressive your driving style is, the more likely they will bounce in and out of contact with the road while they try to stabilize your vehicle. The effect of this on the rear tires is a condition called “cupping” or “feather edging”. This defect can be diagnosed visually when you notice a difference in colour in each tread block on the tire, usually going from a dark colour to light around the circumference of the tire, or simply run your hand over the tread of the tire and you will feel the high and low spots.
Rear wheel drive vehicles alternately wear tires on the back faster than on the front. “Feather edging” will also occur on the front tires of a rear wheel drive vehicle just not as quickly as with front drive vehicles.
All wheel drive vehicles offer awesome handling, but the trade off is that they are particularly hard on all tires. Not only do they put power to the pavement through all 4 tires, but they tend to wear the edges of the front tires excessively as they try not to keep all 4 tires rotating at the same speed during cornering manoeuvres.
Part time 4×4 is basically the same as rear wheel drive, except when extra traction is required you have the option of enlisting the help of the front wheels. This is probably the best compromise of fuel economy, tire wear and traction and is my personal favourite.
So, the question remains, how often should you rotate your tires? A good rule of thumb is to rotate them every 10,000 kms. As with most services related to your vehicle, a small investment will save you money in the long run.
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