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Getting your car serviced is paramount to ensuring you can enjoy it for many years and get the most out of it. Many of the most basic maintenance, such as a tire rotation, can be done at home right in your driveway. If you are nervous about tackling a tire rotation at home or think that you need specialized tools and equipment, don’t worry, this guide can help walk you through the process.

What tools do you need?

As with any car service, you will need some tools and materials to ensure you can do the work properly. Pep Boys recommends that you have a solid and capable jack, not just the one that comes with your car, and a reliable set of jack stands. Furthermore, you’ll need a lug wrench to remove the tires from your vehicle. Don’t misplace those nuts because you don’t want to put your tires back on without all of the required nuts. Finally, you will want a block of wood or a wheel chock to keep your car from rolling before it is fully lifted or jacking it up. 

Anyone can do a tire rotation right from their driveway as long as you have those tools!

Make sure you know which rotation pattern you need

When you are rotating your tires at home, you will want to know the proper pattern for your car. Depending on your vehicle’s drivetrain, there is a specific way for you to rotate your tires to make sure they perform as expected and can last. Tire Rack tire rack explains the intricacies of these patterns in much more detail.

Ready, set, go!

You’re ready to start as long as you have the tools you need, know which pattern works for your car, and are determined to learn! The first thing you’ll want to do is make sure you’re on level ground. If you have a garage, park there. Engage your car’s emergency brake, and loosen all of the lug nuts on your wheel. Finally, place a block of wood or wheel chock under one of the tires, which will help prevent your car from unexpectedly rolling away.

1. Jack up that car and get the jack stands ready

A man loosens the lug nuts on a wheel with a lug nut wrench to service the wheel
Man Fixing a Tire with a Lug Nut Wrench | Jairph via Unsplash

Take your jack and roll it under the car. If you are unsure where to place the jack, refer to your owner’s manual for proper placement. Pump the handle until it comes into contact with the car frame, and raise the car until the tire is off the ground. Take off the tire, put the lug nuts in a safe area, and continue to jack the vehicle higher off the ground until it barely clears the jack stand. Place the jack stand in the recommended position, slowly lower the car onto the jack stand and lock it into place. 

Repeat this action for all four wheels if you have four jack stands. Once you have all four jack stands set up, make sure your car is stable, and leave your floor jack locked into one position as a backup.

2. Follow the pattern and reinstall your tires

Once you have the first tire off the car, you will want to remove the correct tire for the rotation. Simply repeat the first step for the second tire, and rotate the tire into the right position. Repeat for the other two tires.

If you have removed all four tires at once with four jack stands, rotate them into the correct position. Follow the necessary pattern moving each tire into the right spot, being careful not to mix up the tires. Put the tires on over the lugs and hand-tighten each nut.

3. Remove the jack stands and lower your car

When you have your car on all for jack stands and have rotated the tires, you will now want to lower the vehicle back to the ground for it to settle. Take your floor jack, go to the front or rear jacking point, and slowly raise the jack in the proper spot. Raise the jack to that your car is slightly about the jack stands, and remove the jack stands. Do not go under the car at this point.

Slowly release the jack, and allow the car to settle. Put your woodblock or wheel chock back in front of the tires to prevent it from rolling, and repeat the same process on the opposite side. Your car is now back on the ground with freshly rotated tires. Tighten the bolts using the star pattern and tighten the lug nuts, but be careful not to over-tighten. If you have extra money, get yourself a torque wrench that will click when you have correctly tightened the lug nuts.

What now?

A Tekton Impact Driver taking off the lug nuts of a wheel to get ready to do a tire rotation
A Tekton Impact Driver Being Used to Remove Lug Nuts | Tekton via Unsplash

You’re done! You rotated your tires at home and saved yourself a bit of money. Tire rotations are an important service and is an easy service for anyone to complete Even complete beginners! If you are still nervous about doing the work yourself, ask a friend with some experience to help you out. Before you finish up and walk out of the garage, take a few moments to check your tire pressure as well. 

Rotating your tires from home can be an easy and rewarding way to know your car better and keep your car in great shape.


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