Tire Rotation Question

Hello,
a. What is the current thinking regarding the number of miles that a passenger car (with all-season tires) should accumulate between tire
rotations ?
b. Is it necessary to have the wheels balanced, again, at this time ?
c. Curious about the rotation order (front to back, or...?) for asymetric thread tires like the Nokian WR G2 ?
Different rotation order/positions for the normal, symmetric, type of tires ?
Thanks, Bob
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I'd suggest checking the owner's guide that came with your car or the maker of your tires.
From http://www.michelinman.com/tire-care/tire-saving-tips/ :
"Regular rotation helps extend the life of your tires, saving time and money in the long run. For rotation, each tire and wheel is removed from your vehicle and moved to a different position. This ensures that all of the tires wear evenly and last longer. If no period is specified in your vehicle owners manual, tires should be rotated every 6,000 to 8,000 miles. If you have a full-size spare, it should be included in the rotation process."
From http://www.tiresafety.com/maint/maint_content.asp (a referal from Firestone / Bridgestone ):
"Tire rotation is vital to achieving even tread wear and long tread life. Rotation is necessary because of the uneven wear characteristics of each wheel position on the vehicle. Rotate tires at the vehicle manufacturers's recommended intervals or at 5,000 - 7,000 miles if not specified."
From http://www.conti-online.com/generator/www/us/en/continental/automobile/general/contiacademy/tire_ovw_101/dictionary_en.html :
"Refer to your Vehicle Owners Manual for recommended rotation pattern and interval for your vehicle. It is recommended to rotate your tires every 6,000 to 8,000 miles, or sooner if uneven treadwear begins to appear. The purpose of regular rotation is to achieve more uniform treadwear on all tires on your vehicle. If tires show uneven treadwear, ask the service person to check and/or correct any alignment or other mechanical problems before rotation.
"This is true for both front wheel and rear wheel drive vehicles. Full size spare tires should be included in the rotation pattern for your vehicle. Compact spares (temporary use spares) should not be included in the rotation pattern."
From http://www.goodyeartires.com/care/tire-maintenance/ :
"While many people are knowledgeable enough to rotate their own tires, the procedure is especially quick and easy for a professional. Your vehicle's owner's manual will specify the proper rotation pattern and schedule for your vehicle. If no specific schedule is indicated, a good rule of thumb is to rotate your tires every 6,000 to 8,000 miles.
From a recent Ford Owner's Manual:
"Tire rotation
"Rotating your tires at the recommended interval (as indicated in the scheduled maintenance information that comes with your vehicle) will help your tires wear more evenly, providing better tire performance and longer tire life. Unless otherwise specified, rotate the tires approximately every 5,000 miles (8,000 km)."
From http://www.toyota.com/dealers/services/tire_center.html :
"How often should my tires be rotated?
"On average, tires should be rotated every 5,000 miles."
For tires I bought at Costco, they said to bring them in for rotation after 7500 miles.
Persoanlly, I try to rotate my tires every 5000 miles. For an AWD car, or asymetric tread tires, I do a straight front to rear and don't include a spare. If I do it at home, I don't worrry about the balance unless there is a vibration after the rotation. For the Costco and Sam's Club tires, they do the balance for free when they do the free rotation.
Ed
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On 10/19/10 11:07 AM, in article i9kfo7$ble$ snipped-for-privacy@news.eternal-september.org,

Every car I've ever owned addressed this in the owner's manual/ maintenance schedule, except for re-balancing. If the car rides smoothly, don't mess with the balance, it can only get worse.
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As has already been posted, check the manual for your car. Toyota has a sequence for rotation and the book claims that the warranty on the tires is void if this is not followed. (Yeah, what warranty?)
It is not always necessary to rebalance the tires, but I have found that this can sometimes be very helpful to return the car to its smoothest ride.
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On 10/19/2010 09:07 AM, Bob wrote:

since this is all in your owners manual, it's most likely that you're just attention-whoring.
but if you're not, and because i'm sick of seeing other people regurgitate same-old same-old without bothering to think, here are some facts:
1. tire rotation was "invented" in the days of bias ply. we don't use bias ply any more.
2. a tire wears to direction of rotation and station on car.
3. when transferred to a different direction and/or station, the amount of tire/road contact area is reduced.
4. reduced contact area reduces traction, and thus ability to brake and turn. kinda important in emergencies.
5. you *cannot* rotate on performance vehicles with directional tires and different tire sizes.
6. many manufacturers selling in the usa are afraid of lawyers and practice "cya" based on an "industry standard" that will stop them being sued, even though the technical facts contradict.
conclusion, just like some performance vehicle manufacturers have the gonads to say, and like frod say in europe but don't say here, don't rotate your tires. if you're experiencing uneven wear issues, fix the problem with the car, don't lipstick the pig and hope that a tire rotation will cover the evidence.
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I don't know how accurate all the claims in this post are, but I agree with the conclusion - I never rotate tires. Balancing is far more beneficial to tire longevity.
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Bill Vanek wrote:

My Ford manual for my F350 DRW states not to rotate the tires unless they are showing uneven wear. This is in large part due to the different wheels involved (AL front and DRW outer, steel DRW inner and spare) making rotation a dismounting and remounting chore.
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wrote:

I dont think it is accurate at all. The manufacturers call for rotation, and I have personally had uneven wear problems that were diagnosed as being caused by lack of rotation.
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On 10/20/2010 06:44 AM, hls wrote:

dude, think through that statement and analyze how that can /possibly/ be. rotation as a mask for mechanical issues with the car is fundamentally wrong. wear because of more loading on the front axle of a front wheel drive car is fundamentally right - it's what you should expect to see.
facts still remain, tires rotated away from their wear sense give less traction. less traction means you can't stop or corner as safely. there's no arguing around that. "manufacturer recommended rotation" is just lawyer-speak for "don't sue us if you crash", it's /nothing/ to do with the physical facts - the physical facts observed by the minority manufacturers [like bmw] who dare to state them.
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wrote:

I've been associated with two different vehicles where rotation seems to be necessary - a 1986 VW Jetta and a 2008 Mazda 3. In both cases the rear tires developed strange wear patterns and became very noisy over time if not rotated. For both cars the alignment was checked and rechecked and it was claimed to be within specs. The same problem occured with two different sets (and completely different brands of tires) on the Jetta. The wear patter was really odd, not a worn sholder or excessive wear in the center. Rather it was if you sanded bands across the tire at an angle to the direction of rotation. Hard to see, but if you ran your hand along the circumfrence of the tire you could definitely feel it. For boh the Jetta and the Mazda it only affected the rear tires. The front tires wore perfectly (in both cases). If you didn't rotate the tires, the pattern on the rear tires became very pronounced and the tires roared to annoying degree after 10k miles (more or less). Routine rotation seemed to eliminate the problem (definitely eliminated it for the Jetta - it seems to eliminate it for the Mazda - but we are only 10k miles on the new Mazda tires). My sister ruined two sets of tires before she started rotating the tires ('86 Jetta). My son's first set on the Mazda were ruined. He started routine rotation on the second set and so far so good. I assume it has something to do with the style of driving, rear suspension design and type of roads. Both my Son and Sister are gentle drivers. Both do the majority of their driving on highways. North Carolina uses a lot of rock in the asphalt and most of their driving is on asphalt roads. For me, I've never seen much benefit to tire rotation, but Sam's club does it for free for my car, so I let them. Doesn't seem to hurt anything. Rotation is not free for my truck tires, so I'll probably just leave those tires alone unless I see a wear problem (original tires went 45K and I only replaced them becasue of multiple punctures).
Ed
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On 10/20/2010 12:15 PM, C. E. White wrote:

that ed, is a carppy tire. pure and simple.
even though radial tires have circumferential bands, they still have bias plies that go through their side walls and under the tread. if those are defective, i.e. they're not anchored correctly to the mounting bead wires, or they're not wound properly, different plies end up at different tensions and the angled tread deformation you describe results. it is possible that a tire that's been run too hot or with excess pressure can develop similar faults, but again, that only occurs on carppy tires. rotating them simply masks the underlying tire flaw - it's not a solution.

"doesn't seem to hurt anything." so apparently that dog you ran over because you couldn't brake as well was inconsequential.

what a folksy little story. shall i tell you a folksy little story about a friend's civic that tracked to the left with their [new sumitomo] tires mounted in one direction, and to the right when the front axle tires were reversed? or should we have kept on rotating until we found a combination where that didn't happen and just let another tire manufacturer off the hook for producing that carp?
mean while, digest this:
http://oi52.tinypic.com/5zl24m.jpg
the accompanying text is classic german understatement: "diagram o shows the different braking forces that were achieved with different tires under aquaplaning conditions. the noticeable difference in the performance levels of the tires is striking."
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On 10/20/2010 01:11 PM, jim beam wrote:

forgot cite: from the bosch automotive handbook.

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I not exactly a strong advocate of tire rotation. For some vehicles I've done it, for others not. I've had at least one vehicle where rotating tires always led to problems, a 1986 Sable - all the tire wore square, but the front wore much much faster. If you tried to even out wear byt rotating, the car invariably developed a pull to the right. After the second set, I quit rotating tires on this car. On my current Fusion, rotating the tires seems to have no detectable (by me at leat) negative consequecnes. And I managed to wear out all four original tires (OE Michelins) almost perfectly evenly.
My sister's experiences with the Jetta did not involve cheap tires, unless you think Michelins are cheap.
I tried to find some sort of study that quantified the effect on tire performance of swapping ties around between axle locations and couldn't find anything other that vauge statements. For sure BMW advises against it. The following is from an online BMW Owner's Guide:
"Swapping wheels between axles
"BMW advises against swapping wheels between the front and rear axles, even if all tires have the same size, as this could impair driving characteristics. If the tires are of mixed sizes, swapping wheels between the axles is not permissible."
They don't exactly clearly state what they mean by "impair driving characteristics." Have you seen any studies that quantify this impairment? Interestingly, Mercedes-Benz does recommend routine tire rotation (for vehicles that have the same size tires on front and rear axles and they'll do the first rotation for free). They do specify that tires should not be cross rotated, as does Volvo. It seems that Volvo used to recommend against routine tire routation (back when they built rear wheel drive cars). These days, Volvo also recommends routine tire rotation.
So it seems to me that most vehicle and tire manufacturers recommend routine rotation with the cavet that you cannot swap tires of different sizes between axles, and that several manufactuers don't recommend cross rotation in any case.
I have a hard time with the idea that most vehcile manufacturer's are recommending rotation as some sort of anti-lawsuit measure. Particualrly if you buy BMWs arguement that swapping wheels between axles might impair driving characteristics. It seems as likely to me that you might get sued for telling people to rotate tires as you might if you didn't tell them to. I suppose they might recommend it as a way to avoid fixing design or manufacturing flaws that lead to uneven tire wear, but it seems jsut as likely they are recommending it as a way to equalize wear on tires for cars that inherently wear the front tire faster.
The 1986 Sable I owned wore out the front tires more that twice as fast as the rear tires. If you didn't rotate the tires you were forever buying two tires. I always liked the idea of running four matched tires. My family had a 1978 Fiesta. When we bought it, the advice given was to not rotate the tires. The car had very small (12 inch wheels) tires and the fronts wore out evey 25 to 30k miles. The rear tires didn't appear to wear at all. When the car was 8 years old, I finally swapped the rears to the front becasue they were so old. I figured I'd get as much out of them as I could before they dry rotted. We were lucky for that car. It came with Michelin tires, and at least for the first 8 years tyou could buy the identical replacment tire, so we always had a closely matched set. These days it seems whenever I go to buy tires, the tire model I used to have is no longer available. I hate the idea of having different front and rear tires. Maybe this is a silly personal thing, but I rather wear all four tires out as close to the same as possible and buy four news ones. For my trucks, this doesn't seem to be a big deal. The fronts and rears mostly wear the same. Ditto for my Fusion (an AWD Fusion). But for my son's Mazda3, the front tires wear at a much faster rate. Same is true for the SO's RAV4, and my sister's old Civic. The SO is on her third set of two tires. Whenever she buys two new tires to repalce the worn out front ones, they insist on moving the rear tires to the front and putting the new tires on the rear. So she is constantly buying new tires, two at a time. She doesn't mind and she doesn't like to have the tires rotated. Do you think rotating four tires that are the same imparis the driving characteristics more than having front and rear tires that are not the same?
I think most people should just foolw theeir own counsel when it comes to tire rotation. If you don't have a strong opinion, then I'd suggest following the advice of the vehicle manufacturer, which in most cases means 5000 to 8000 mile rotations. Although Volvo had an interesting recommendation - they recommended doig the first rotation at 3000 miles, and then following that up with the longer interval.
Ed
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On 10/26/2010 08:01 AM, C. E. White wrote:

no, not all michelins are cheap. most are excellent in fact. but, some are awful - rain force for example. those mxv's that came oem on interga's are another.

<snip inane verbosity>
ed, this is one of those real basic things like you not finding many studies on how wheels work - it's obvious to anyone who has any form of observational ability. take a nice FLAT surface like some 3/4 ply. dust it with builders chalk, then roll your car across it. on inspection of the chalk marks on the tires, you'll see how much of each tread block actually contacts the surface. then, rotate the tires so the sense changes, and repeat. you'll see a dramatic difference. since traction with tires is a form of adhesion, not coulomb friction, and therefore proportional to contact area, it doesn't take a rocket surgeon to figure out that reducing the contact area by rotation reduces traction and thus your ability to keep the rubber side of the vehicle pointed down.
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Two thoughts on this experiment:
1) Given that tires support the weight of the vehicle via a combination of air pressure operating over the contact patch and sidewall stiffness, shouldn't the contact patch be relatively constant? I can't see how rotating the tire significantly effected the sidewall stiffness and therefore you need approximately the same contact patch size to support the vehicle. I suppose the shape might change somewhat, but this seems like it would be a minor issue.
2) OK, so how exactly did rotating the tires change the contact patch in your experiment? Say I move the front tire to the rear. I suppose the actual load on the tire will be different, so the contact patch would change, but would it be different than the tire that was originally on the rear? Is the idea that the tire tread profile is now different? So if the tires are wearing relatively well, rotating should not be a big deal? So as long as you rotate before you develope significant wear patterns, then no problem?
3) How significant is this change? Is it really that significant?
Ed
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On 10/26/2010 08:48 AM, C. E. White wrote:

for fuck's sake ed, just /do/ it - you've shown countless times that you're useless in the abstract.
> I can't see how rotating

side wall? red herring. i said "each tread block". pay attention.

20-40%. now get off your ass and head on down to the building supply depot.
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On Wed, 20 Oct 2010 15:15:11 -0400, "C. E. White"

Well, as others here have said, not rotating cannot *cause* any problems whatsoever. It simply allows the signs of the real problem to show up sooner. Alignment, balance (and not just the wheel/tire combo), steering, suspension, faulty tires, all of those things can be the cause. And there are alignment measurements that are rarely checked, or they are misunderstood.
Look at it this way: If you have a problem that's causing the right front tire to wear funny, and you rotate, you will now have two tires wearing funny. How do you gain anything? Find the problem, fix the problem, and replace the tires as needed. Of course, if it's just bad design, you won't be finding *or* fixing the problem.
Anyway, the single most important thing you can do to extend tire life on newer vehicles is balancing. As the car gets older, you do have to pay attention to alignment and steering/suspension wear or damage.
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wrote:

Sorry, but I absolutely agree with the former and have never rotated tires, pistons in cylinders, pushrods, rocker arms or anything else. Establish and maintain the best wheel balance and alignment you can, be vigilant about and replace worn suspension parts and go from there.
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Do what works for you. I am telling you that I have had tire damage because I didnt rotate reasonably. Tires are too expensive to make that mistake again.
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On 10/20/2010 01:56 PM, hls wrote:

if you bought decent tires in the first place, and your vehicle was properly maintained, you wouldn't have to rotate.
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