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Looking after your tyres

Front and rear tyres do different jobs, so they usually wear at different rates. Regular tyre rotation is therefore needed to ensure maximum tyre life is achieved. In the past tyre rotation was fairly straightforward.

However, the widespread adoption of temporary use spare wheels, uni-directional and asymmetrical tyres, and in some cases different size tyres front to rear complicates the matter greatly.

We always suggest following the vehicle manufacturer's rotation recommendations as outlined in the car's handbook, or alternatively taking advice from an experienced tyre dealer. However, where this is not possible, the following information may be of assistance.

How frequently should tyres be rotated?

Many manufacturers recommend tyre rotation at least every 10,000km. However, in practice some cars are harder on tyres than others and more frequent rotation will be needed to ensure maximum tyre life.

If the tyres are wearing unevenly, attention to wheel alignment, tyre pressures, or revising driving style may also be required.

Uni-directional and asymmetrical tyres

Uni-directional tyres are designed to primarily turn in one direction. (indicated by an arrow on their sidewalls) They must be correctly oriented both on the wheel and to the car.

Like uni-directional tyres, asymmetrical tyres are fitted to the wheel in a particular orientation in order to produce the intended benefits. They too will have sidewall markings to assist with this.

Neither uni-directional or directional asymmetrical tyres can be rotated side to side as doing so would alter their direction of rotation. Front to rear rotation is the general recommendation. Non-directional asymmetrical tyres can be rotated side to side.

Front to rear tyre rotation diagram 1

Different diameter or width tyres

A few vehicles have front and rear tyres that differ in diameter and / or width. This means that it may only be possible to rotate them side to side on the same axle (provided they are not uni-directional or asymmetrical).

side to side tyre rotation diagram 2 

Adding the spare wheel to the mix

Where the spare wheel is the same as the road wheels it's good practice to include it in the rotation sequence. This spreads the wear over the five tyres rather than four.

Tyre rotation including the spare wheel diagram 3

Temporary use or space saver spare

Temporary use or space saver spare wheels can only be used in an emergency therefore they cannot be included in the rotation sequence. If the vehicle has a temporary use or space saver wheel but doesn't have uni-directional, asymmetrical or different size tyres front to rear, this is the suggested rotation pattern.

 

Tyre rotation with a temporary use or space saver spare diagram 4

4WD and AWD cars

Regular tyre rotation is vital to these vehicles. Differences in overall tyre diameter due to mismatched or uneven wear can damage their drivelines. The rotation guidelines given here are equally applicable to these vehicles. If in doubt about the appropriate course of action, seek advice from a dealer.

Other maintenance requirements

Maximum tyre life will only be achieved if tyres are regularly rotated, correctly inflated and wheel alignment and balance are checked and corrected as necessary.

  • alignment should be checked annually or when abnormal wear patterns appear
  • tyre pressures should ideally be checked at least every two weeks
  • have tyre balance checked when tyres are being rotated

More information

Should you require further assistance please contact our Motoring Advice Service or email us your details now.

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