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Tires/Tire rotation


Years ago I was told that radial tires run on one side of a vehicle (driver's) would be damaged if switched to the other (passenger's) side.  They must remain on the same side so they always spin in the same direction.  Something about the steel belts settling or seating over the first few hundred miles.    Does that matter?

I have a set of radial tires I removed last December to install snow tires.  I have no way of knowing if they were removed from the left side or right side.


In the early days of steel belted radial tires, there was a concern about the wires in the belts adhering to the rubber.  There were a lot of reports of separations that appeared to be adhesion related.  

The theory was that the wires would detach from the rubber on one side and reversing the rotation of the tire would then allow the other side to detach - and, in theory, not changing direction of rotation prevented that.  Many tire manufacturers published advisories to that effect - and at least some of that was self serving (trying to shift some of the blame for tire failures to the consumer.)

I was not a big subscriber to that theory.  I reasoned the real problem was the strength of the wire/rubber interface - and that was what it turned out to be.  Today, there aren't really adhesion problems to the wire like those old days and the reason for keeping the tires on the same side has disappeared (if it ever was useful at all!)

But many people subscribe to the theory because a)  they didn't understand why it was recommended and b)  they interpret irregular wear as being caused by reversing direction (it doesn't)

Having tires rotated is very important because the front tires do different things than the rear tires - and that affects both the wear rate and the wear pattern.  But in the big scheme of things, having the tire cross rotated (as opposed to front/rear) isn't that critical.  I prefer to see every tire visit every wheel position in order to minimize the affect of each wheel position, but the difference is small.

So try to determine which tires were the fronts and which were the rears.  

Clues:  On FWD the front tires wear faster.  On RWD the front tires will wear the shoulders, while the rears will wear the centers.  


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Barry Smith


I have over 30 years experience in the design, manufacturing, and testing of tires. I have served as the technical advisor to the "800" number. I have authored or co-authored many publications - usually without credit. I can answer almost any technical question, but please don`t ask me to compare brands. I probably have prejudices because of my work experience.


Member SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) Member Tire Society (Tire Technical Organization) SCCA Regional Competiton License holder Authored many training manuals on tires, their care and use.

SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) SCCA (Sports Car Club of America) Tire Society

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I am a graduate of the University of Dayton, Dayton, OH - BME, 1971 I attended graduate school at the University of Akron - but did not complete my PhD - something I regret.

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