It’s important that your tires get rotated every 6,000-10,000 miles, and are properly inflated to ensure maximum traction and longevity. This is a pretty simple process that can be done in your garage or driveway.

All you’ll need are these items:

  • Floor jack
  • Jackstands
  • Wheel chock(s)
  • Lug wrench
  • Torque wrench
  • Tire pressure gauge

Start off by ensuring your vehicle is on a flat, level surface in “Park” or 1st gear with your emergency brake engaged.

Place the wheel chock(s) behind the rear tires. This is to make sure that the vehicle doesn’t move when you’re jacking it up off the ground.

Now, take your lug wrench and on each of the lug nuts, crack them loose but DO NOT remove them. The reason for doing this now, is the wheel is going to spin when it’s off the ground making it almost impossible to loosen these lug nuts unless someone is in the vehicle pressing the brakes.

Then, locate the lift points on your vehicle. If it has a full frame, the four corners of the frame will work. If it’s a unibody car (only the front half of the car has a frame), the pinch frame will usually work. Check your owner’s manual for the proper lift points.

Lift each corner of the vehicle, starting with one of the front wheels and then the other, and place a jackstand under each corner as close to the jack as possible. In this picture, the jackstand doesn’t raise high enough to get the wheels off the ground so they’ve used blocks to give additional clearance. When you lower the floor jack, do it very slowly until the car is resting on the jackstand.

Next, remove the lug nuts for each wheel (you may need to use your lug wrench again at first) and place them somewhere close to the wheel you remove them from.

When it comes to the actual rotation, there’s a few different ways of doing it. Just make sure you do it the same every time. Some people prefer to do a straight front-to-back, others prefer a cross-rotation. If you have directional tires you have to do a front-to-back so they stay on the same side of the car. The rule I follow, is “Drive straight, idle cross.” That is, if it’s a FWD (Front Wheel Drive) car, the drive wheels (front) go straight back, and the rear wheels (idle) cross to the front. For example, the left front tire goes to the left rear, and the left rear tire goes to the right front. Reverse this if it’s a RWD (Rear Wheel Drive) or 4WD/AWD (Four Wheel Drive/All Wheel Drive) vehicle.

While your wheels are off, it’s not a bad idea to take a peek at your brake pads to give yourself an idea how much remains. You can now begin putting the wheels back on. Make sure each wheel is sitting flush on the hub and install the lug nuts finger tight on each wheel. After all the lugs are finger tight, try wiggling the wheel. It shouldn’t move on the hub.

Lift each corner off of the jackstand starting with the rear wheels (where your chock is), remove the jackstand, and SLOWLY lower the floor jack until it’s all the way down. Do this for the other rear wheel, and then each of the fronts.

This is where your torque wrench comes in. You’ll need a socket that matches the size that you used with your lug wrench. Every manufacturer has a suggested torque specification for their lug nuts. Most GM cars are 100 ft. lbs, most newer (’93+) GM trucks are 120 ft. lbs, most Honda and Toyota cars are 80 ft. lbs. If you are unsure what yours should be, most local repair shops will help you find this information.

Start at the left front wheel and tighten each lug nut, in a star pattern, until the lug wrench clicks/beeps/does whatever your neat torque wrench does. Repeat this process for the right front, then the right rear, then the left rear wheels.

Almost done! All that’s left is to check your tire pressure. Find your vehicle’s tire placard (typically in the driver’s side door jamb) and locate the correct pressure for your vehicle. Here’s an example:

Go around to each tire with your tire pressure gauge:

…and make sure each tire is at the proper inflation.

That’s it! You’ve done it!

…before you sit back in your lawn chair with a cold beer/pop/lemonade/water and marvel at your accomplishment.

OR you could bring your vehicle to the trusted staff at Auto Works and we can have it done while you wait and drink your complimentary coffee/hot chocolate, freeing up time for you and giving you peace of mind knowing it was done by a professional AND getting your free 49 point safety inspection on other safety components of your vehicle. You’re the boss!