Conventional wisdom dictates that you should always rotate tires after every 5,000 miles hence this guide on How to Rotate Non-Directional Tires. However, how you drive your vehicle can change this mileage quite a bit, particularly if you live in severe winters where you drive on snow-packed roads and dirt roads.
Normally, tires can be classified as directional or non-directional. This is based on their tread patterns. In a nutshell, directional tires will have similar tread patterns across their width, while non-directional tires will have dissimilar tread patterns down the tire’s length.
Non-directional tires — more commonly known as radial tires — work by having the face of the tire remain flat and pointing inwards on all sides, so there are no directional markings.
So, when rotating non-directional tires, it can be confusing to figure out which way to rotate them since they won’t have any directional marks that show you how to do it.
Here’s how you should rotate non-directional tires for maximum tread and wear.
How To Rotate Non-Directional Tires
Non-directional tires are the most common type of tire you’ll find on vehicles. They are made with a tread pattern with a series of small grooves running in all directions. This allows them to perform well on dry and wet roads, although they tend to wear out faster than directional tires.
However, non-directional tires offer less traction in snow and ice than directional tires, which have tread patterns designed for better traction on specific surfaces.
If you have non-directional tires on your vehicle, you should rotate them every 3,000 miles as part of basic car maintenance. Rotating your tires helps ensure that each tire wears evenly and lasts longer. It also helps keep your car balanced because uneven wear can throw off its suspension system over time.
Here are the benefits of rotating your non-directional tires:
Better ride quality
A new set of tires can be uncomfortable until you break them in. Rotating your non-directional tires helps break them in faster.
Longer tire life
Tires wear differently when driven on different surfaces with different loads. So, by rotating your tires, you’ll drive each one more evenly, extending their lifespan by 20%.
When driving on uneven surfaces at high speeds, like highways, it’s important to have equal tread depth across all four wheels. Rotating your non-directional tires helps ensure this happens consistently over time.
Here are some tips to keep in mind when rotating your tires:
- Check your manufacture specification or ask your mechanic to determine if you need to rotate your tires.
- Ensure you inflate all four tires at their correct pressure levels before rotating them.
This ensures they’re equally worn down on their treads, making it easier to determine when they need replacing.
- Use the right tools.
Tire tread depth gauges are among the most important tools to have on hand. They help you track the tread left on each tire, which is key in the rotation. It is also essential for maintaining proper pressure on your tires.
- Rotate your tires at least every six months (or sooner)
Even if you don’t drive that much, your tires will wear down over time and will obviously need rotation. So, rotate them every six months or any sooner to avoid cases of blowouts.
Here are some essential tools you should have when rotating your tires:
- Jack and jack stand
Jack stands are necessary if you don’t have a lift or air jack. Use them with a jack to safely raise the car off its wheels for easy rotation.
- Lug wrench
Lug wrenches come in different sizes depending on the type of lug nuts your car uses. Some cars use standard-sized lugs, while others use metric-sized lugs (eighth-inch versus millimeter). All in all, make sure you have the appropriate size before buying one.
- Wheel chocks
Wheel chocks are essential for preventing your car from rolling while changing its tires — especially if you’re doing it alone or in low light conditions because they provide extra stability for your vehicle when parked on an incline.
You can find wheel chocks at most auto parts stores and local hardware stores for about $10 a piece.
Rotating tires is important for vehicle maintenance. In addition to keeping your tires in good condition, rotation helps extend their lifespan and maintain performance on the road.
However, the key to effectively rotating your tires is knowing the type of tire you have. Are they directional or non-directional?
If they are non-directional, here is how to rotate them.
1. Make Sure the Tires Are Cool Before Rotating Them
If they’re hot from driving, allow them to cool down for about an hour. Ensure your car is in the park or neutral with the parking brake engaged before attempting this task.
2. Use Jack
You first need to raise the car off the ground using jack stands or ramps. The jack should ensure no chance of roll-up when working on the vehicle. Then remove all lug nuts before they roll away too!
3. Check Tire Pressure
You’ll also need to check your tire pressure to ensure the viability of your rotation. So, ensure that you fill all your tires as per the manufacturer’s recommended levels.
4. Use the Cross Pattern When Rotating
The cross pattern is the most common and recommended by most tire manufacturers. This pattern has rotation starting from one side of the car (either front or back) and then repeatedly moving to the other side.
The ends of each tire will be rotated in opposite directions, which means they will face opposite directions.
All it takes is a little know-how and a simple hand tool.
If you’re still unsure how to rotate non-directional tires, there are plenty of videos that should help you learn the process. Or you could call a garage and let the professionals handle it.
Either way, it’s something that you shouldn’t ignore.