How to Rotate Tires on AWD

How to Rotate Tires on AWD

Rotating your car tires regularly is essential since front tires wear out differently than their rear counterparts. Rotating them helps extend their life and improve your vehicle’s performance and safety. 

However, many car owners think that tires on AWD vehicles don’t need regular rotations due to the constant distribution of power, leading owners to believe that all tires will wear down at the same rate. 

The truth is that tire rotation is one of the most effective maintenance practices to extend tire life in all cars, including AWD vehicles. So, how do you go about rotating tires on your AWD vehicle? Continue reading to find out.

What Is an AWD Vehicle?

do you need to rotate tires on awd

About a decade ago, all-wheel-drive (AWD) vehicle sales increased dramatically in the United States. One reason for this increase is the frequent winter storms in the 2008-10 winter seasons. In the last months of 2010, all-wheel-drive autos accounted for more than 33% of new passenger car sales. 

An AWD vehicle is one with a powertrain that can provide power to all its wheels, whether on-demand or full-time. Most AWD systems supply power mainly to one set of wheels, rear or front, at a time.  The most common types of all-wheel drive are:

  • 4×4 (4WD) powered by two axles each on both wheels
  • 6×6 (6WD) powered by three axles each in both wheels
  • 8×8 (8WD) powered by four axles each in both wheels

You might be interested in our blog – How To Rotate 4×4 Tires

What Is the Difference Between AWD and 4WD?

Like AWD systems, four-wheel drive (4WD) systems deliver power to each corner of the car. However, unlike 4WD vehicles, AWD stays engaged all the time and provides varying levels of power to the axles depending on traction conditions. 

AWD systems mainly power one set of axles, essentially operating without driver involvement. The computer-controlled systems use sensors to automatically decide which axle and wheels need the most power at a particular moment when vehicle dynamics or surface conditions require extra traction. 

When the vehicle detects traction loss in one axle, it compensates for the loss by automatically diverting more power to the other axle. AWD systems are optimized for on-road use and will help keep your vehicle moving forward more easily than a rear-wheel-drive or front-wheel-drive car on rain-slicked or snow-covered roads. 

You can use AWD on pavement without worrying about adverse effects as it allows each tire to rotate at its own speed in turns. This capability makes AWD a better option than 4WD if you’re looking for bad-weather security. AWD systems can be found in trucks, cars, and compact to full-size SUVs, giving you a vast range of vehicle options to choose from. 

On the other hand, 4WD is ideal for off-roading and extremely slippery roads since the system delivers a fixed amount of power to each tire, meaning the tire with the most traction will get the power it needs to prevent your vehicle from getting stuck. 4WD is often a part-time system, so you need to activate or deactivate your vehicle’s 4WD system by yanking a lever, turning a knob, or pushing a button. 

Activating the system locks the rear and front driveshafts together, making the rear axle and front axle turn at the same speed. In mud, snow, or sand, this ensures that, at a minimum, the engine torque is always delivered to at least one rear and one front wheel, without depending on computers to detect wheel slip. Consequently, more power will be delivered to the ground in ultra-slippery conditions to keep you moving. 

Why You Should Rotate Tires on Your AWD Vehicle

Regardless of the vehicle’s AWD system, each wheel position experiences a different degree of traction, steering, and weight distribution. If you allow tires to run on every wheel position, they wear down more evenly, reducing the chances of irregular wear. 

Here are some of the key benefits you’ll enjoy when you rotate your tires regularly:

  • Maximize tire lifespan
  • Promote uniform wear
  • Enhance traction and handling
  • Reduce road noise
  • Improved driving safety

By keeping your tires as uniform as possible, you minimize strain on your AWD system’s components. A slight difference in diameter between two tires on the same axle means that the tires are spinning at different rates, which puts strain on the AWD system, increasing the chance of failure. 

How and When Should You Rotate Your AWD Tires?

After how many miles should you rotate your tires? A good rule of the thumb is to rotate your tires every 5,000 to 7,500 miles – or at least as often as you change your oil – to extend tire life, optimize traction, and promote handling balance for the vehicle. For example, if you drive 10,000 to 15,000 miles a year, you should rotate your tires twice in a calendar year. 

You should follow the  rotation pattern below for an all-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive:

  • Move the left rear to the right front
  • Move the right rear to the left front
  • Move the right front to the left rear
  • Move the left front to the right rear

If you have a full-size spare tire, remember to include it in your regular rotations. You want to ensure the spare tire’s tread remains equal with the other tires to prevent damage to the driveline. 

What Is the Cost of Tire Rotation?

How much does it cost to get tires rotated? The cost of tire rotation usually varies depending on where you are having your tires rotated, but the service shouldn’t cost you more than $50. You can find a much lower price if you take the time to shop around since location plays a significant role in determining the rates charged by various service providers. 

Bottom Line

Rotating your tires regularly can make a huge difference in traction, driving comfort, vehicle handling, vehicle safety, and tire maintenance cost. Leaving your tires to wear without rotation can be costly and dangerous. 

How often should you rotate tires? You should rotate your tires at regular intervals every 5,000 and 7,500 miles to extend tire life, provide the best traction, and improve the vehicle’s handling balance. Consider checking your owner’s manual for guides on how and when you should rotate your tires. For an AWD vehicle, the rotation pattern provided in this article will work best. 

You might also be interested in our other guides:

How To Rotate Tires With TPMS

How To Rotate Tires On Front Wheel Drive

How To Rotate Your Tires With One Jack

How Long Does It Take To Rotate Tires

How Do You Rotate Radial Tires

How To Rotate Dually Tires