Tire rotation is an important part of your car’s maintenance. It helps to compensate for uneven tire wear caused by your driving habits, driving condition, or the nature of your vehicle. Now, there are many methods you can consider to rotate your car’s tires. However, this specific post will focus on how to rotate tires with two jack stands.
You see, depending on your car’s model and type of transmission, some tires will inevitably wear out faster than others. For instance, the front tires carry around 60% of the car’s net weight. As a result, they’re exposed to extreme abuse that forces them to wear out quicker than the rear tires. Also, some tires may receive more power from the engine forcing them to overwork more than the secondary tires.
So, to even out this tread wear that occurs from time to time, you must rotate your car’s tires regularly. According to most experts, tires should be rotated every 6,000 miles or after every oil change. So, in this short guide, we’re going to discuss how to rotate your car’s tires using two jack stands.
But First, Here are Some Safety Tips
- In case you’re not confident and comfortable rotating tires on your own, then don’t proceed with this task. Instead, assign a professional mechanic to replace the tires for you.
- Before using the jack stands, ensure that they’re rated to lift the weight of your vehicle. In case it’s a truck or an SUV, your specific jack stand should have a minimum weight rating of 3-tons and if it’s a light vehicle, the minimum weight rating should be around 2-tons.
- Some vehicles demand a specific tire rotation pattern. So, before you proceed, make sure that you follow your car’s manual to know the exact tire rotation pattern.
- Always ensure that your vehicle is resting securely on the jack stands.
- Always ensure that the lug nuts are tightened properly before driving your vehicle. In case you’re not sure, tighten them good then head straight to an automotive dealer to have them tightened properly.
- When lifting your vehicle, make sure that you do it slowly and steadily. Also, make sure that you wear protective gloves to protect your fingers from injuries.
Things You’ll Need
- Floor jack
- Jack stands
- Torque wrench
- Lug nut wrench
- Mechanic’s gloves
- Step One: Organize Your Working Area
Before you do anything, the first step you have to take is to park your vehicle on flat level ground. This way, you’ll lower the chances of the jack stands tipping over when the car is in the air. Secondly, ensure that you engage the parking brake before commencing with the process.
Lastly, consult your car’s owner’s manual for the exact lifting points. In most cases, the lifting points for smaller cars are behind the front wheels and in front of the rear wheels.
- Step Two: Identify the Rotation Pattern
Identifying the rotation pattern of your vehicle is very important when rotating the tires. Now, there are two factors that affect the rotation pattern of a vehicle’s tires. One of them is the direction of the treads while the other is the vehicle’s transmission.
For the case of tread patterns, there are directional and non-directional patterns. With directional tires, the treads and grooves are molded to channel water and road debris in one direction to improve handling. For that reason, you can’t switch the tires from the driver’s side to the passenger’s side or vice versa.
For non-directional tires, the grooves and the treads appear identical allowing you to switch the tires in any direction (from the driver’s side to the passenger’s side and vice versa).
In the case of the transmission, you’ll have to determine whether your car is rear-wheel drive or front-wheel drive. For the front-wheel-drive vehicles, the rear tires will switch diagonally to the front while the front tires will move straight to the back.
For rear-drive vehicles, the rear tires will switch straight to the front while the front tires will switch diagonally to the back.
- Step Three: Loosen the Lug Nuts
While the car is still on the ground, use a lug wrench to loosen the nuts holding the tires. Since you’ve already identified the rotation pattern you’ll be using, loosen the nuts on the tires that you’ll be rotating.
- Step Four: Lift the Car
So, to lift your car, you’ll need to use a floor jack or any other type of jack that’s available. Identify the precise jack points on your car’s frame then start lifting it slowly. Once the car rises to the preferred height, pick the first jack stand and place it on that point. Next, raise another point, maybe the rear or front section of the car, and place the second jack. So, to understand this concept much better, let’s discuss the available different rotation patterns.
- Rotating Front Tires
In case your tires are non-directional, then the process of rotating them using two jack stands is self-explanatory. Here, you’ll start by loosening the lug nuts before lifting the car.
When you’re done, use a floor jack to raise the front right side of the car. Place a jack stand on the jack point just behind the tire. Repeat this step on the left side and place the second jack stand behind the left tire. Once you’ve lifted the front part of the car, remove the lug nuts and rotate the front tires.
- Rotating Side Tires
In case your tires have the same size and are directional, then there’s a simple way of rotating them without compromising your car’s drivability. In this scenario, you’ll be dealing with directional tires that demand tires on one side to be swapped together.
This means that the front driver tire will be swapped with the rear driver side tire while the front passenger side tire will be swapped with the rear passenger side tire.
So, to do this, you’ll start by loosening the nuts of the driver’s side tires then jack the front tire to the air. Place the first jack stand then lift the rear driver’s side tire and place the second jack stand.
Remove the lug nuts entirely and rotate the tires. Once you’re through, tighten the lug nuts and lower your car. To lower the vehicle, jack up the rear side just a bit to remove the jack stand. Proceed to lower the rear side to the ground. When you’re done, jack the front part a bit to remove the second jack stand then lower the vehicle to the ground.
- Rotating Diagonal Tires
The first two tire rotation patterns are quite easy to accomplish. However, when it comes to rotating the tires diagonally using two jack stands, then things can get quite risky. So, for this particular rotation pattern, you have to be very keen to avoid damaging your vehicle or causing injuries to yourself.
To perform the diagonal rotation pattern, here are some steps you can follow. First, start by loosening the lug nuts for all four tires. Next, use your floor jack to lift the left and right rear sides of your car. Place the first and second jack stands on the left and right jack points to keep the rear part raised.
When you’re done, lift the front right side of your car to the desired height. At this point, leave the floor jack in a lifted position. Remember, a floor jack is used for lifting purposes and not for holding. For that reason, you need to ensure that your jack is in a perfect state to avoid any accidental collapse.
With the car raised on three points, proceed to remove the front right tire and swap it with the rear left tire. Restore the lug nuts for these two tires and lower the jack. When you’re done, lift the front left side of the car using the floor jack.
Remove the front left tire and swap it with the rear right tire. Place both tires into position and restore the lug nuts. Lower the jack slowly then proceed to lower the right and left rear sections of the car. Once all four tires are safely on the ground, use your lug wrench to tighten the nuts perfectly.
As you can see, the process of rotating your car’s tires is simple and straightforward when using two jack stands. However, this process is only safe when rotating side tires and front and rear tires. In the case of x-pattern rotation, or the diagonal rotation, using two jack stands can be very dangerous. Thankfully, we’ve outlined a simple process you can consider that demands extreme care and attention.
Lastly, this insightful guide has discussed three specific patterns for tire rotation. So, to identify your car’s exact pattern, it’s recommended that you refer to your car’s manual to know which route to take.