How to Rotate Your Tires with One Jack

How to Rotate Your Tires with One Jack

You may be aware that rotating your tires is one of the best things you can do to keep your car in good condition. Rotating the tires ensures that they wear evenly, and it’s something you should do regularly. 

In fact, many people prefer to get their tires rotated when they have an oil change. However, you can complete this car maintenance process on your own, especially if you enjoy the feeling of accomplishment you get when servicing your own vehicle. 

It’s even possible to learn how to rotate your tires with one jack. While this is not the ideal situation, it is possible. 

The Short Answer

You can rotate your tires with one jack, but you’ll need jack stands to complete the process. You’ll have to jack up one end of the car, either the front or the back, and remove that tire, leaving the car up on a jack stand. Then go to the other side and raise that side. Remove the tire and replace it with the tire from the other side. 

Move the tire you just took down to the other side of the vehicle and repeat on the other end (rear or front) of the vehicle. With just one jack and one jack stand, you’ve managed to rotate your tires. 

How to Rotate Your Tires with One Jack: A Step-by-Step Guide

#1: Jacking Up the Car

How to Rotate Your Tires with One Jack

When you use a floor jack to raise the vehicle, remember that you can use a jack stand to keep the car in that position and remove the jack. At this point, you are ready to begin the rotation process. You must get the car far enough off the ground that you can easily remove the wheel.

When you get the car up, you need to ensure that the jack stands are positioned properly. There is a metal bar that allows you to jack up and hold the vehicle with the chassis instead of the body. If you use pieces of the body, you could damage the body and the vehicle could easily slip off the jacks. This is not only dangerous but can also damage the vehicle. 

#2: Removing the Wheel

how to rotate tires with two jack stands

Removing the wheel is an important step, and you typically need a lug wrench so that you can remove the wheel after you lift the vehicle. If you do not have the appropriate wrench, you can purchase one from the manufacturer or a local auto supply store. 

Now that you have removed the wheel, take the car jack with you while you move to the other side of the car. 

#3: Removing the Other Tire

Swapping the tires from side to side is the easiest rotation pattern when you only have one jack. You could complete this process from front to back, but it is often too complex for someone with just one jack. 

As you work, be sure to stay organized and remember to keep the lug nuts separated so that they remain on the appropriate side of the vehicle. If you don’t keep the parts organized, you may notice some instability when the rotation is complete. 

how to rotate your tires with one jack

#4: Swap the Tires

Swap the tires so that the tire from the right side of the car goes on the left side and vice versa. When you complete this transition, ensure that you do not mix up the tires in the process. This is also a good time to inspect your tires to ensure they are in good condition.

#5: Inspect the Tires

While you’re rotating your tires, take the time to inspect them for badly worn treads, holes, sidewall damage, and any bald spots. If there are bald spots or obvious signs of damage, you should switch that tire out with a spare tire and get a replacement as soon as possible. This ensures that the tires are in good condition and do not give out shortly after the rotation.

The tread pattern is an important part of the vehicle and your traction on the road. There are times when certain patterns will help collect debris and cause damage. You might notice that you have gravel, rocks, and debris stuck in the treads. Turn the tires and remove this debris before you start driving. 

Tires wear down faster due to the friction caused by the debris. Plus, the tires are designed to work better when water can run through the treads and allow for more traction. The slippage you experience when you have debris in the treads could cause your vehicle to skid or hydroplane.

#6: Rotate the Back Tires

how to rotate tires with one jack

When you’re done rotating the front tires, make sure you go to the back of the vehicle and rotate those tires too. You should also inspect the tires when you flip them from side to side on that part of the car. When you repeat this process, remember that rotating the tires is much easier now that you have some experience.

Other Things to Consider

Can You Complete the Rotation on One Side?

When you notice a tire is wearing faster, you may want to rotate your tires even more often than you would have normally. There are times when you might want to swap the left rear with the front left tire. Of course, you can also swap the front right tire to the rear. 

Use the jack stand to raise one side of the car. You will also need a jack stand to raise the rear or front of the vehicle.

Doing this on just one side of the car may cause the weight of the vehicle to bear down too much on the other tires. That is why it is imperative to complete the process as quickly as possible.

Tighten the Lug Nuts Properly

how to rotate the tires with one jack

Tightening the lug nuts may sound simple, but be sure to tighten them enough to keep the tires on when you complete the rotation. When you remove the tires, keep the lug nuts close by. 

When you tighten them, you should stop when they clearly catch and will not move any further. If you tighten them too much, they could strip the screws and cause instability or even cause the tires to fall off the car.

Bottom Line

As we’ve seen, it’s definitely possible to learn how to rotate your tires with one jack if you have to when you are alone. However, you’ll need to invest in jack stands that will help you keep the car elevated while you complete the job. Be sure to position the jack stands properly and try to complete the job quickly so that you do not put any undue strain on the vehicle.