Tire Rotation and Balancing

The importance of tire rotation and balancing.

Tire Rotation:

In normal driving, your front tires wear more on the shoulders because they handle much of the cornering forces in turns. Front wheel drive vehicles have even more force on the front tires. We rotate the tires so that all the tires do some duty on the front end as well as getting a little break on the back end. This way, all four tires wear more evenly over their life, and last longer. Indeed, tires are rotated to even out tread wear.

Tire rotation patterns vary on different vehicles. For most vehicles, the tire rotates front to back. Some manufacturers recommend a cross rotation pattern that includes the spare tire. Some high-performance vehicles have a different size tires on the front and rear, and may even have a unidirectional tire that can only be on the left or right side of the vehicle. Your service advisor can help you sort that out, and will perform the right tire rotation for your vehicle.

Your tire manufacturer will have a recommendation for how often you should rotate your tires. It is usually somewhere around 8000 to 10 000 kilometres.

Wheel balancing:

Wheel balancing is when there are heavy spots on the tire and wheel that cause it a bit of wobble. Balancing adds weights to the wheel to balance it out. When wheels are out of balance, there are very small weight differences between tires. Even small differences can cause annoying vibrations at speed. The wheel is essentially bouncing a bit as it goes down the road. Therefore, unbalanced tires can wear out prematurely.

If a front wheel is out of balance, you will feel the vibration through the steering wheel. When it is a rear tire, you will feel the vibration through your seat.

If you're getting bad vibes from your vehicle, bring it in to see if it's a balance issue or something else. You should balance your wheels whenever you get a new tire or remount a tire like when it's been removed for a flat repair.

Rotating your tires helps ensure even wear on all four tires, since acceleration, cornering, braking, and engine weight can all cause the front tires to wear faster than the rear ones. 

What are the signs indicating you need a tire rotation or balancing?

Every day wear on tires will contribute to imbalance. Remember, just half an ounce in weight difference can cause a vibration when driving.

Here are some common signs that your wheels may be out of balance:

- You feel a vibration in the steering wheel or through your seat.

- You notice uneven tire.

In those cases, you should get a tire balancing done. It is also important to balance your tires when you get a flat, you buy new tires or when a weight that used to be on the rim falls off.

How often do you need a tire maintenance?

There are several tire rotation methods that take into account the type of tread pattern (directional, symmetrical, or asymmetrical) and the size of the front and rear tires, which can differ. Your certified NAPA AUTOPRO technician can determine the correct method and rotate your vehicle’s tires accordingly. 

Wheel balancing is necessary in order to avoid vibrations, “wheel hop,” and premature tire wear, in addition to keeping your car driving smoothly. Wheel balancing is usually done when you get your tires changed in the spring and fall. If a second set of rims is used, your certified NAPA AUTOPRO technician will recommend getting your wheels balanced every year. Your technician can also determine which type of weights work best for balancing, depending on whether you have metal or alloy rims. A new set of tires should be balanced when they are installed on your vehicle. 

Learn more about tire rotation and balancing from our NAPA AUTOPRO experts in the video below: