Every week, we take your questions about what is going on under the hood of your vehicle and pose them to a knowledgeable mechanic in the Greater Toronto Area. In this week’s column, we discuss when tires should be regularly rotated.
Dear Ask a Mechanic,
I like to maintain my vehicles in accordance with the manufacturer's schedule of maintenance, which includes regular tire rotation at 10,000 kilometers. Twice in the past two years (once at a dealer, once at Canadian Tire) during regular servicing, the shop has failed to perform the specifically requested rotation. They did not fail to bill me for it, and explained that tire rotations are only performed if required. When did tire rotation become an optional service? Is a visual inspection for uneven wear sufficient to tell if the tire is running true? I'm very concerned about safety and tire longevity issues, apart from the questionable billing practices involved. – Rotation assistance
Talha Qazi, owner of North York-based General Tech Automotive, said he rotates the tires for all of his customers every 10,000 kilometers, as that’s the industry standard. Some manufacturers may list tire rotation at every 10,000 kilometers and others much higher, depending on the vehicle, as newer models can withstand longer gaps. Either way, Qazi said it’s important to follow the manufacturer's schedule.
He explained he performs regular rotations because in a front-wheel drive vehicle the front tires are exposed to a lot more wear and tear since they steer the vehicle, do a majority of the braking, and also pull the vehicle along. The rear tires largely support the weight of the vehicle, causing mostly street wear. Rotating every 10,000 kilometers or so is “the only way to get the maximum longevity of tires.” If the tires are never rotated, the front two will wear out long before the tires in the rear.
In rear-drive vehicles, the tires in the back propel the vehicle and can wear out earlier than the front tires. Either way, regular rotations help maximize the life of tires.
Qazi said visual inspections are acceptable but it’s always better for mechanics to use a tire depth gauge to test the wear of the tire. “Even after [completing] a visual, I still do rotations, because it might look perfect, but the wear might be one millimetre less in the back and because of that, it’s good to rotate.”
Ask a Mechanic is written by Nida Zafar, a reporter who grew up in a house full of mechanics in Scarborough, and occasionally poses your questions to her dad or brother. You can send your questions to email@example.com. These answers are for informational purposes only. Please consult a certified mechanic before having any work done to your vehicle.
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