A Complete Guide: How to Rotate Tires Yourself

Sitting in the waiting room of an auto shop, you hear loud riveting, clanging and hydraulic jacks moving thousands of pounds of metal around. So rotating your tires might seem like a large undertaking but the truth is it’s very simple.

With a small investment and just a few tools, you can easily rotate your tires in less than an hour. You’ll be done in plenty of time to watch the game and win some brownie points with the wife.

Check out this quick How-To guide on how to rotate tires at home.

Why Do I Need To Rotate My Tires?

Tires don’t wear evenly for a number of reasons. For starters, most cars are weighted toward the front. This increase in weight causes the tread to wear quicker than tires carrying a lighter load.

Additionally, the front tires are the ones that turn. That constant scraping affects tread life.

In the U.S., we drive on the right side of the road. This translates to right turns at slow speeds and left turns at higher speeds. The result is an increased amount of force put on the front passenger side tire of our vehicles.

So, every five thousand miles or so it’s beneficial to rotate your tires to equalize the tread wear. If your tread wears down too much, you will have to replace your tires more frequently, so rotating your tires can save a lot of money in the long run!


The tools required for this job are simple:

  • Lug Nut Wrench
  • Jack Stands
  • Floor Jack  – NOT the one from your trunk. This is designed for quick emergency tire changes. A hydraulic jack around the $100 mark will do the trick and keep you safe. 

How to Rotate Tires – Directional vs Non-Directional

Before you get started you need to determine whether or not you have directional or non-directional tires on your vehicle. 

Directional tires have been engineered to sweep water away from the tread as well as aggressive tread that is designed to grip one way. These tires will have arrows printed on the outside wall to show you this direction. They need to be rotated front to back on the same side of the car only.

Non-Directional tires can perform their duties facing either way. They should be rotated in a “figure 8” pattern (back right to top left / top left to back left, etc).

“What about my spare?”

If you happen to have a full spare, it’s a good idea to rotate it in as well, starting with the back right position. If you have a small spare, or “doughnut,” that is designed for short distances to get you out of trouble and should not be used in proper tire rotation.

Getting Down to Business

  1. Throw on your emergency brake for safety.
  2. Partially loosen the nuts on all four wheels.
  3. Plan your strategy for how you’ll work through the rotation. Depending on the number of jack stands you have, you might have to raise and lower the car multiple times to move the tires to their new positions.
  4. Jack up one wheel and place a jack stand under that part of the car.
  5. Take off the wheel.
  6. When placing the new wheel, make sure to hand tighten the lug nuts as much as possible.
  7. Remove and relocate the tires according to your plan.
  8. Use the lug wrench to tighten all lug nuts down firmly to finish.

Chores: Check

And there you have it. A simple car maintenance procedure performed by you. Now that you know how to rotate tires, you’ll gain confidence to tackle bigger jobs on your vehicle.

Take a look at all of our How-To’s and keep your car in tip-top shape.

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