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Tire Rotation 101: Rotational Patterns

Mar 3rd 2020

Tire Rotation 101: Rotational Patterns

As we have discussed in a previous blog post, tire rotation is an important part of tire upkeep as it ensures a safer performance and a lengthened usability.

However, how you need to rotate your tires is a different matter. Tires need to be rotated in accordance with the vehicle and the type of tire mounted on it.

Rearward cross

Rearward cross tire rotation

Rearward cross rotation pattern is for uniform tires (all four tires are of the same size) that feature a non-directional pattern. With this rotation pattern, the front tires are moved diagonally to the back, while the rear tires stay on the same side as they move to the front. This pattern is mainly used for four wheel, all wheel or rear wheel vehicles.

X-pattern

X-pattern tire rotation

If the tires are uniform and they are non-directional and the vehicle is a front wheel drive light-weight truck or sedan, the X-pattern rotation is recommended. This pattern rotates all four tires diagonally. In other words, they are switched from one axle to the opposite side of the other axle (e.g.: front left tire is switched to the rear right position).

Forward cross

Forward cross  tire rotation

With front wheel drive vehicles that have uniform tires and those tires are non-directional, the Forward cross rotational pattern is the most common. This is basically the same as the rearward cross, just switched up. Here the rear tires are crossed diagonally to the front axle, while the front tires are just moved to the rear axle on the same side.

Five tire rotation rearward cross

Fire  tire rotation rearward cross

When a full sized spare tire is used with the vehicle, that fifth tire also needs to be rotated into the mix, to ensure that all five tires wear together. This is especially crucial for all or four wheel drive vehicles.

A rearward cross five tire rotation is mainly used for uniform sized tires that feature a non-directional pattern. With this rotation, the right front tire is rotated diagonally to the rear axle, while the spare tire is mounted onto the right rear axle. Both of the rear tires are moved to the front on the same side. The front left tire is placed in the vehicle’s trunk as the new spare tire.

Five tire rotation forward cross

Five  tire rotation forward cross

A five tire forward cross tire rotation is for front wheel drive vehicles with uniform tires that feature non-directional patterns. In this case, the spare tire is mounted as the right rear tire. The back tires are moved to the front diagonally, while the left front tire is rotated to the left side of the rear axle. The right front tire is placed in the vehicle’s trunk as the new spare tire.

Front-to-rear

Front-to-rear  tire rotation

Directional tires are designated and must be mounted on the vehicle’s correct side. Therefore, these tires cannot be rotated diagonally. If the vehicle has uniform tires, these directional tires must be switched out with the tire from the same side of the vehicle. With front-to-rear rotations the tires are switched out front to back. For example: the right front tire is moved to the right side of the rear axle, and the tire mounted there is switched to the right side of the front axle.

Side-to-side

Side-to-side  tire rotation

When it comes to staggered vehicles (vehicles which need different sized front and back tires), the tires must be rotated side-to-side. As the tires are not of the same size, they cannot be switched out. With these vehicles, the rotated tires stay on the same axle. For example: the front right tire is moved to the left side of the front axle, while the front left tire takes its place. 

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