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Service, Recalls, Warranty & Maintenance Valuable service and maintenance information. Also discussion which engine and transmission fluids you use.

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Old 01-11-2011, 02:13 AM   Thread Starter #1
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Default Tire Rotation

The reason for rotating the tires every so often is that changing their position on the vehicle helps even out wear to prolong the life of the tires. Rotating the tires also prevents the tires from developing pattern wear problems that may result from turning in the same direction on the same wheel for thousands and thousands of miles.


Most most common recommendation is to rotate the tires every 6000 miles. If you wait too long, you lose the benefits of rotating the tires regularly.

That's also a good time to inspect the tires for any unusual wear, tread damage, sidewall damage or other problems. Run your hand across the tread. If you feel sharp ridges one way but not the other, it means the tire has developed a wear pattern that may be the result of toe misalignment. You should have the wheel alignment checked and corrected as needed to prevent additional tire wear from occurring.

If a tire shows cupped wear, it indicates worn shocks or struts that need replacing.

Heavy shoulder wear often indicates camber misalignment.


If your vehicle has a full-sized spare tire, the spare should be included in the rotation to increase the life of all of the tires 20 percent. Including the spare spreads the wear around.

On front-wheel drive vehicles, there is some disagreement as to whether or not rotation saves rubber. The back tires on a FWD car can sometimes last 60,000, 70,000 or even 80,000 miles. The front ones, however, wear out much faster than those on a rear-wheel drive car because they have the added burden of driving the vehicle as well as steering it. Tire life can be as little as 30,000 to 40,000 miles. Rotating the tires will spread the wear out to all the tires -- but the question is, what is cheapest? Replacing only the front tires at 40,000 miles, or replacing all the tires at say 60,000 or more miles? That's a question only you can decide.

CAUTION: Worn tires with reduced tread depth are more likely to hydroplane and lose traction on wet roads. This increases the risk of skidding and spinning out of control. This is especially true if the tires with the most wear are on the rear axle. Rotating the tires regularly will even out the wear between all four tires and reduce the risk of the rear tires skidding and losing control of your vehicle.

The front tires on front-wheel drive (FWD) cars and minivans typically wear much faster than the rear tires. If the tires are never rotated, the rear tires may still have 50% or more tread left when the front tires are worn out.

If you are buying two new tires to replace the worn front tires, have the new tires and wheels mounted on the REAR axle and move the still good rear tires to the FRONT axle. Putting the new tires in the rear will reduce the tendency to hydroplane and oversteer when driving on wet roads. If you mount the new tires on the front and leave the partially worn tires in the rear, you will get better traction with a FWD vehicle but less overall stability.

Here is something else to keep in mind if your vehicle has a mix of new and worn tires. The normal tire rotation patterns described below apply to tires that have about the same amount of wear (no more than about 2/32 inch difference in tread depth). If your tires have a greater difference in tread wear (more than 2/32 or 1/16 inch difference between the front and rear tires), rotate the tires side-to-side only on the same axle. Do not use the traditional X-pattern as shown below.
measure tire tread depth with gauge
Tire tread wear can be measured with a simple gauge like this.
Mixing tires with different amounts of tread wear may upset handling stability and increase the risk of losing control in some driving situations!
It may also upset the operation of the ABS and/or stability control systems, too!

On some all-wheel drive cars and fulltime four-wheel drive (4x4 or 4WD) trucks, a significant difference in tread wear between the tires side-to-side or front-to-rear may increase wear in the center differential.

On vehicles with electronic stability control (ESC) systems, a large difference in tread wear side-to-side or front-to-rear may reduce the stability control system's ability to maintain steering control under adverse driving conditions. Tires with different amounts of tread wear may also trigger false ABS or ESC trouble codes. Tire wear reduces the circumference of a worn tire slightly, causing it to turn slightly faster than tires with full tread. This may fool the ABS/ESC system into thinking a tire is losing traction or there is a defective wheel speed sensor. Either way, if a fault code is set, it usually deactivates the ABS/ESC system!

Some FWD cars experience rear toe wear problems more than others due to flex and compliance in the rear suspension bushings. If the tires are NOT rotated often enough, the tread on the rear tires can wear unevenly, often creating a rough sawtooth wear pattern that causes a rumbling noise or vibration that may feel like a bad wheel bearing.


Jack, lug wrench (or torque wrench), and FOUR safety stands. The entire vehicle must be raised off the ground to rotate all four tires. NOTE: Make sure your vehicle is parked on a level surface before raising it off the ground.


1. Pop off all the hubcaps, then loosen all the lug nuts half a turn while the wheels are still on the ground.

2. Raise all four wheels off the ground, and position a safety jack under each corner of the vehicle to support it.

3. Now remove each wheel and place it on the ground next to the hub from which it was removed. If your vehicle has a full-sized spare, and you're including the spare in the rotation pattern, take it out of the trunk and lay it on the ground.

Click the image to open in full size.

4. Now rotate the tires: Both front wheels should be remounted on the back (same side). Both back tires should be mounted on the opposite side on the front. This is called an "X" rotation. The front wheels go to the back, and the back ones change sides and go to the front.

If the spare is included in the rotation, use this scheme: Mount the spare tire on the left front (drivers's side) hub. Put the right rear (passenger's side) tire in the trunk. The right front tire moves to the rear (same side), and the left rear tires crosses over to the right front.

5. Finger tighten all the lug nuts, then lower the vehicle to the ground and finish tightening all the lug nuts with a torque wrench. Tighten the lug nuts in a star pattern to the recommended specifications (typically 70 to 80 ft. lbs. on most passenger cars).

6. Replace the hubcaps, and put the jack and lug wrench back in the trunk or storage compartment.

7. Make a note of the mileage at which you rotated the tires in your maintenance record for future reference.

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Proper torque on lug nuts is very important for three reasons. One is to keep the lug nuts from loosening up and the wheel coming loose, another is to prevent distortion of the brake rotor behind the wheel, and a third is to prevent broken studs. A torque wrench should be used for final tightening of the lug nuts, and the nuts should always be torqued to the recommended specifications.

CAUTION: Torque specifications for lug nuts are always for CLEANand DRY studs and lug nuts. That means no oil, no grease, no anti-seize and no lubricants of any kind. Any of these products will reduce the friction between the threads. This may seem like a good thing to prevent rust and frozen lug nuts, but the reduction in friction means a much higher percentage of the applied torque (up to 25% or more) will go toward loading the lug nuts. The end result may be brake rotor distortion or broken studs!

Wheel studs should be cleaned with a wire brush to remove rust and dirt BEFORE the wheels are mounted. If the lug nuts are heavily rusted or have damaged threads and won't turn easily on the studs, replace the lug nuts. The same goes for any wheel studs with damaged or badly corroded threads. And remember to mount the wheels DRY with nothing on the threads.

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Click the image to open in full size.
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Thundershott (01-11-2011)
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