Does Tire Rotation Affect Wheel Alignment?

Either it is your first time to do tire rotation, or you have been doing it for a long time and wonder if it can mess up your wheel alignment. Does tire rotation affect wheel alignment?

The direct answer is NO, not in any way. Tire rotation and wheel alignment are two different things, and the former does not cause issues to the latter. Tire experts and manufacturers recommend that car owners rotate their tires regularly to ensure even tread wear.

On the other hand, wheel alignment is also essential maintenance that car owners must not miss because it can cause issues to the vehicle. 

Read on and discover more about tire rotation and wheel alignment so that you will have a clear understanding of their differences.

Tire Rotation vs. Wheel Alignment

Before we go any further, let us understand the fundamental differences between tire rotation and wheel alignment. I don’t know how it came about, but I know some friends who get confused between the two.

Dive in and get a clearer understanding of these two car maintenance procedures.

Tire Rotation

Manufacturers always advise that we rotate our tires. Some will include tire rotation in the tire maintenance list. But why is this important? What exactly does it do? What benefits can you get when you rotate your tires?

Also known as tire balancing, a tire rotation will help you achieve an even or balanced tire tread wear. When your tires wear evenly, you will experience a smoother ride. Additionally, it prolongs the life of your tires.

Does tire rotation help you save money? Hell yeah! If you do not rotate your tires, they will likely suffer from uneven wear. I’ve seen a tire that the steel cords on one side are already showing, but the other side still has thick treads. This problem is due to a lack of rotation.

Now, if you have uneven tread wear, the life of the tire will be shorter. The tendency is, if you take your vehicle to a shop for maintenance, they will suggest that you replace your tires with uneven tread wear for safety reasons. 

Should you have rotated your car tires, it would have served you longer, saving you a few bucks.

Signs that Your Vehicle Needs Tire Rotation

If you start feeling imbalance when you drive your car, it could be the hint that you need to rotate your tires. Feel your ride. Try to notice if you sense some vibration coming from the tires.

If you do notice some imbalance, immediately check your tires. Examine if the tread is wearing evenly. If you can hardly determine it yourself, get some help from a mechanic.

Ideally, you should rotate your tires every 5,000 to 6,000 miles. However, it is best to check your tires regularly or ask a mechanic if they need a rotation during maintenance sessions. 

What Happens When Tires are Not Rotated?

As mentioned in the previous section, failure to rotate your vehicle’s tires will have some safety and economic impact on you.

First, if you do not rotate your tires, they will not wear evenly. You will see that one side is already bald, but the other side still has so much tread. If this is the scenario, it will pose potential safety issues.

A tire that is not evenly wearing is prone to damages or, worse, explosion. Try not to hurt yourself and ensure your safety by rotating your tires.

Secondly, if you do not rotate your tires and they don’t wear out evenly, it means the life of your tires is short. Thus, it has a direct economic impact on you. It will hurt your pocket earlier than expected. 

You know how costly it can be to replace your set of tires. So, rotating your tires will surely help you save some dimes.

Tire Rotation Average Cost

There is no fixed price we can quote as to how much it would cost to have a mechanic do the job of rotating your tires. The cost depends on where you are getting the service. However, looking at the online data, it appears that the average labor price ranges from $40 to $70.

What can you do to avoid paying the cost to rotate your tires? If you are confident in doing the job and have the necessary tools, doing it yourself could be an option. Just make sure that you do not damage anything while doing it.

This article might give you some ideas on how you can rotate your tires on your own.

Wheel Alignment 

Now, let’s talk about wheel alignment in the most straightforward way.

Keeping it straight is the key. In other words, wheel alignment is making adjustments to the vehicle’s suspension system so that your vehicle travels straight. 

When I go to car shops for maintenance, I always ask the mechanic to check if the wheels need alignment. Your trusted mechanic knows better in determining if your car requires alignment.

What parts of the tire will the mechanic check when aligning your wheels? There are three areas of the tire that a mechanic would check. These are the camber, toe, and caster.

Signs that Your Vehicle Needs Wheel Alignment

Ever notice that your vehicle will either pull to the right or the left? Do you feel vibrations on your steering wheel? Do you see uneven tread wear on your tires?

If your answer to the questions above is yes, most likely, your car requires a wheel alignment.

Wheel alignment is also ideal during replacements. Doing this will ensure that you will maximize the benefit of your new tires.

If you follow the trend of lowering or lifting your car, you definitely need to have your wheels properly aligned. These jobs will undoubtedly affect the suspension parts that affect the tire angles. Therefore, you should not miss the wheel alignment.

As for the frequency of wheel alignment, I have checked with some mechanics, and they advise that the ideal frequency is every year if you do not take challenging roads very often. However, if you have been to some rough roads, you can consider doing it bi-annually.

Common Reasons for Wheel Misalignment

What can throw off your vehicle’s wheel alignment? Hitting a curb or a pothole or getting into an accident are the typical reasons why your wheels will be misaligned. Depending on the impact, hitting a curb or a large pothole can even damage your car’s frame.

Taking your vehicle off-road can also be the cause of wheel misalignment. The stress that the rocks and uneven surfaces put on your vehicle suspension can potentially damage the parts that affect wheel alignment.

Another reason is modifying your car’s suspension system, such as lowering or lifting your vehicle. When the suspension system parts are touched, you should align your wheels after the job.

Wheel Alignment Average Cost

The average cost of wheel alignment can vary depending on the type of your vehicle. Generally, the job can cost you as low as $60 or as high as $200.

The place where you get the job done matters when you talk about the alignment cost as service prices of different shops also vary.

Is wheel alignment something you can do at home? Can you do it yourself? Yes, if you have the knowledge and the tools, it would not be easy. The job requires a lot of steps to perform. As for myself, I get an experienced mechanic to do it for me to ensure safety and correct process.

Related: Yokohama YK740 GTX Review

Can Tire Rotation Mess Up Wheel Alignment?

As pointed at the beginning of this article, tire rotation does not affect wheel alignment. We’ve already discussed the common reasons that will cause misalignment, and tire rotation is not among them.

When you experience uneven tread wear, it can be that you need to rotate your tires or align your wheels. How do you know which one you need? Well, if your tires are not wearing out evenly, tire rotation is always the primary thing you do.

As far as wheel alignment is concerned, ask yourself: Did I hit a curb or a pothole? Did I change something to the vehicle’s suspension? Did I recently replace my tires? Has it been a year since my last wheel alignment?

Do You Rotate Tires Before or After Alignment?

As you probably realize at this point, tire rotation is not dependent on wheel alignment. You can rotate your tires even if your wheels are correctly aligned.

So, do you rotate your tires before or after the alignment? It is all up to you. However, you can check if the tread on your tires is wearing evenly during the alignment process, and if you see that it isn’t, go ahead and rotate your tires.

Conclusion

Tire rotation and wheel alignment are two different services, aiming at different results. Tire rotation ensures that the tread of your tires wears out evenly. On the other hand, wheel alignment ensures that your vehicle travels in a straight vertical line to provide you with a comfortable experience.

Tire rotation does not affect wheel alignment in any way. So, you are free to rotate your tires and completely forget about wheel alignment when doing it. Of course, you need to remember that wheel alignment service is a must for your vehicle.