Rotating Tires: Should You Do It Yourself?

On many cars it is very simple to rotate tires. You just remove them and move them to the appropriate spot (front to back, back to front), then re-install them. In the last few years however this has become a much more difficult job. Most cars these days have what is called a “Tire Pressure Monitoring System” or TPMS. There are also a lot more of “all wheel drive” cars on the road. These two things make rotating your cars tires more difficult. It can still be done, but in some cases, specialized equipment in order to do this job.

The Truth About Doing This Job Yourself

The primary reason that it is becoming harder to rotate tires is because of what is called TPMS or Tire Pressure Monitoring System. This system does just what it’s name suggests. It monitors the pressure in your tires to be sure that they are properly inflated giving you increased tire life and better gas mileage. It can also alert you if you are about to lose tire pressure while driving.

If you have a scan tool that can reset TPMS codes or if your vehicle is not equipped with this system and you have special equipment, then you can do this job fairly easily. You will need to have a good jack and jack stands and a basic set of hand tools, including a torque wrench. Then you simply put the tire that is on the front right on the back left and the tire that is on the back left goes on the front right. Then the same for the other side.

Why Does The “TPMS” Make This Job So Much Harder?

What’s the big deal you ask? Well the “problem” with these systems is that each tire must have a sensor inside of it that can tell the computer how much pressure is in it. This would not normally pose a problem, but each of these sensors are “marked” by the computer so the cars computer knows which tire is which.

This means that the computer knows the difference between the right front tire and the right rear tire.

When “Joe Carowner” goes to rotate their tires the computer can no longer tell which tire is which and it will turn on a light on in the instrument panel. This light will not go out until it is reset.

Resetting The TPMS

Most TPMS sensors have to be reset using a scan tool whenever the tires are rotated and some of them even have to be reset even when you are just putting air in the tire.

Starting in 2008 the government requires that car manufacturers use this system on their cars. This means that your car has this system if it was made after 2008. Many cars that were made before this date have this system so be sure to check your owners manual before you try to do anything related to your tires.

You can buy a scan tool that will re set this system at most any auto parts store or you can take your vehicle to your local mechanic to have it done. Some auto part stores can re set them as well.

Should You Try To Rotate Tires Yourself?

Older Vehicles (2000 and older) tend to be a lot easier. If your car is a newer model that has a TPMS system, it can still be done, but it is a far more complicated job.

Wether your vehicle is new or old, I recommend consulting with a professional or your local Auto Repair Santa Barbara Mechanic before doing a job yourself such as this. Richard’s Accurate Imports rotes tires on all vehicles along with Car Repair in Santa Barbara and Oil Change in Santa Barbara.

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