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TIRE ROTATIONS


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I wanted to ask a question that no one can give me straight answer on. I  know in the past on any normal vehicle when you rotated the tires you wanted the best tires in the front (I'm talking about lets say a Ford Taurus). Several years ago I see the Michelin video where they put two Ford Taurus's side by side with one vehicle having the new tires in the front and the other vehicle having the new tires installed on the rear. Per the NHTSA they state accidents occur or loss of control mainly begins with the rear end losing control therefore you want to have your best tires on the rear? So with all the experts out there and I've also asked many other owners what they think but mainly I'm still seeing "best tires in the front". What are your thoughts? Thanks guys. I'm excited that I found this site!

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Sorry about the double post but I wanted to fix a few spelling errors and I couldn't find the edit button on my first post.

 

The industry has been recommending best on the rear for probably 15 years or more. If a customer requests otherwise we will do it with a big disclaimer on the invoice. Plus, I keep a lot of articles under the counter from Road and Track, etc that stress the point. I did a track day in Texas with Continental where they had us go thru water in a turn with 1/2 worn tires on the front and then the back. With the 1/2 worn tires on the front you would feel the car start to understeer causing you to get off the throttle, this would cause a weight transfer to the front helping you regain control. With the half worn tires on the rear, the car would go into oversteer causing you to get off the throttle, which would transfer weight to the front making the oversteer worse and causing a spin. This happened to everybody even though they knew to expect it. Understeer is much safer for the average driver than oversteer. That's why car manufacturers build understeer in most cars. Also why most oval track race cars dial a bit of understeer in.

 

Edited by tyrguy
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Here’s another question about tire rotations. Just wondering what others are charging for this service. I bumped mine up recently to $20. It’s a bit of a headache. Say a vehicle comes in for a oil change, then also requests a tire rotation. Now, instead of using our drive on hoist, we have to get the vehicle on a regular hoist. In Michigan we also are constantly battling “swollen” lug nuts, where you have to beat the socket on, then beat the lug nut back out of it. We have been replacing a lot of lug nuts lately, but that can get expensive (and a hard sell to the customer). Oh by the way mr. customer, we had to replace 12 lug nuts which ads another $60 to you bill. Now I feel like the bad guy when the customer is reluctantly handing over his or her credit card. All this headache for $20 bucks??? Wondering if I’m still not Charging enough?


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We charge $24. I hand the lug nuts to the customer and ask if they want to try to get it off one night in the rain on the side of the road cause you know that is when it will happen.....Also have some half size sockets

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We still do a tire rotation for 10 bucks with an oil change. Easier to do a good inspection, especially the brakes. No rust issues for us, if there was maybe it would be a different situation. Also, if the customer says they get tire rotation for free, then we just say we'll do it for free as well and go ahead and do the rotation.

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If all you are doing to a car is the tire rotation that is a problem. You have to offer it to regulars as a service sure, but if it starts to become part of your meat an potatoes something is wrong 

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something I just thought of for the original poster though, those rusted lug nut are an opportunity to tell the customer you just noticed they would not be able to change a tire on the road if they needed to use their spare tire. Then you could charge labor and new lug nuts.

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10 hours ago, Hands On said:

something I just thought of for the original poster though, those rusted lug nut are an opportunity to tell the customer you just noticed they would not be able to change a tire on the road if they needed to use their spare tire. Then you could charge labor and new lug nuts.

Check my earlier post......   ;>). 

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Traction should be the same or biased to the rear for all vehicles always. No tire or vehicle manufacturer has ever recommended otherwise. Snow tires are always on all 4 or rear only, NEVER only on the front. Putting the best tires on the front is a misunderstanding of techs that were around when all cars were rear wheel drive and didn't learn anything new when front wheel drive cars came about. They assumed that the best tires go on the drive wheels, which is great if you try to get moving, but terrible if you try and turn or stop.

Most vehicle and tire manufacturers recommend no more than an 20% wear difference in tires before the set should be replaced. Tires should always be matching, staggered setups may be different, refer to manufacturer's recommendations.

In my old shop, it was $20 for rotation when doing it with other services, $25 for SUV/trucks $30/$40 if no other service (someone is changing winter wheels over). We were supposed to ask the customer during the intake interview where their wheel lock socket was if not in the stock location. Then we would check door cards, center console and glove box if not found. Replace lug nuts where damaged always.

Edited by Junior
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I understand that many of you responding feel that you need to perform labor tasks for free because someone else in your surrounding area offers it for free. Where does that end? Free brake inspections? Free tire repairs? Free code scans? Free battery installs? And it seems that all of the free services are happily given away with the thought or excuse that it affords us the opportunity to inspect the vehicle and find other work. Routinely I read posts concerning anger that Advance or Auto Zone offers free services such as code scans or battery replacement. Why would we want to walk down that same path that they are on? As soon as a labor function is offered for free it degrades it’s true value. We are professionals and as professionals we deserve to be compensated appropriately for whatever labor is expended or we risk degrading our labor efforts to valueless. My ability to inspect brakes during a tire rotation is not hampered by the fact that the customer is paying for the rotation. Understandably by giving away free rotations it may (or it should) put you in a position of being able to inspect more brakes. What is the tipping point? In an era with fewer and fewer labor tasks being required on the newer vehicles we may be left with doing free rotations. When does giving away labor equate to a financial gain? Leave that to be figured out by the accountants, until then we will continue to charge for services rendered. Presently our charge for tire rotation is $30.00 except when we have to interact with TPMS post rotation then the charge is $35.00. 

Concerning the original question of best tires on front or rear. We put best on rear unless tread depth differentials are 2/32” or less. As an industry we should demand that the RMA  establish written guidelines for us to use and be able to show to our customers.

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We rotate free if they bought the tires from us. It allows us to upsell alignments, check the brakes, and generally keep our customers happy and coming back regularly. If they bought at Walmart it's $20 and up. 

A couple years ago I went to a ride and drive and we tested 2 cars with 2 good tires on the front/back back to back on a circle track that had one spot hosed down. It mimicked an off ramp. The car with crappy front tires under steered but regained control. The car with crappy back tired went into a spin. Nobody could maintain control with the car that had bald (2/32") rear tires, not even the pro driver. Trouble is putting snows on the rear on a fwd car is useless hence the all 4 recommendations. 

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  • 4 weeks later...

I am interested in the issue of where the best tires go. The front tires are the first to hit water puddles, dirt, loose gravel, etc. Tread is designed to cut through and displace water to prevent hydroplaning and to be able to stop the vehicle in wet conditions (which is often here in Florida) I notice on my personal car when the front tread gets low, the tires get understeer when in wet conditions. New tires up front and a world of difference. 

So recap...

Front tires do 75% of the braking, cut through water first, and add to that the vehicle spends most of its time driving straight. Fwd cars seem to wear the fronts first. 

Other than an extreme emergency maneuver, what am I missing?

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This has been covered in other threads before but here goes again. In wet conditions, good tires on the back will induce understeer, good tires on the front will induce oversteer. So here is what will happen: You're going down an exit ramp with your good tires on the front and go thru some water. The car will start to oversteer and you'll get off the gas. When you do that, you transfer weight to the front and make the oversteer worse and before you know it you're into the guardrail with the back of the car. Conversely, with the good tires on the back when you hit the water, the car will start to understeer, you get off the gas thus transferring weight to the front which helps to regain front traction and you continue on your merry way. In racing, understeer is a stable condition while oversteer is an unstable condition. I went to a Continental test track in Texas where they had a circle track set up with one section watered down. We were told to maintain a steady speed at 40 mph around the track. When we came to the wet area with the best tires on the back, the car started to understeer we got off the throttle and regained control without a problem. When the best tire were on the front, EVERYONE lost control and spun even myself, with 40 years of both oval and road racing experience. That's why for the last 25 years or so ALL tire manufacturers have recommended if only replacing 2 tires, they go on the back. I keep a copy of several car magazine test about this under the counter to show customers that question the practice.

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I agree with tyrguy but I think it is a shame that we, all of us, need to resort to keeping copies of car magazines on hand in order to provide proof to our customers that we are doing the right thing. The RMA sets guidelines in writing for tire service and repair, they need to supply us with written tire rotation guidelines. When to rotate and when not to rotate with specific tread depth differential cut points to be used as opposed to old magazines. My comment is not criticizing tyrguy’s use of the magazines, it is all we presently have but we do have organizations in place to set required rules and specs for these things. To anyone representing RMA: The time has come, get going and supply us with something in writing.

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10 hours ago, JimO said:

I agree with tyrguy but I think it is a shame that we, all of us, need to resort to keeping copies of car magazines on hand in order to provide proof to our customers that we are doing the right thing. The RMA sets guidelines in writing for tire service and repair, they need to supply us with written tire rotation guidelines. When to rotate and when not to rotate with specific tread depth differential cut points to be used as opposed to old magazines. My comment is not criticizing tyrguy’s use of the magazines, it is all we presently have but we do have organizations in place to set required rules and specs for these things. To anyone representing RMA: The time has come, get going and supply us with something in writing.

I hate to be the one to point out what should be obvious, but you already have it in writing from the source that is most credible. This information is in the owners/maintenance manual of most every vehicle from that vehilces manufacturer. It blows my mind how many people including techs have never opened the instructions to, what to most people is the 1st or 2nd most expensive asset they will ever own and the only one that can easily kill yourself and multiple people around you. They all come with manuals that state how to operate and maintain them. Those documents should be read and referenced. Lost it or the car didn't come with it? Most manuals for most cars made in the last 20 years are available online from the manufacturers for free.

Nothing here is new or needs to be studied. This is tech 101 kinda stuff.  You don't need a magazine or a third party organization to help you prove it to a customer. If they question you, there is only one answer, the right one. Are you going to torque a head bolt wrong because the customer thinks it should be done a different way? No, learn about what you're doing, do it right and if a customer doesn't like it you can refuse the job.

Remember the customer comes to you because YOU are the expert and they can not do this themselves. By doing something wrong or appeasing a customer with an incorrect repair or service you are enabling them to be unsafe and supporting their incorrect information. That helps no one. BE that EXPERT, know what you're doing and do it the only way it should be done, the RIGHT WAY.

This isn't meant to call out JimO specifically by the way, this statement goes for anyone that doesn't already get the point.

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On 6/18/2018 at 11:08 AM, Junior said:

I hate to be the one to point out what should be obvious, but you already have it in writing from the source that is most credible. This information is in the owners/maintenance manual of most every vehicle from that vehilces manufacturer. It blows my mind how many people including techs have never opened the instructions to, what to most people is the 1st or 2nd most expensive asset they will ever own and the only one that can easily kill yourself and multiple people around you. They all come with manuals that state how to operate and maintain them. Those documents should be read and referenced. Lost it or the car didn't come with it? Most manuals for most cars made in the last 20 years are available online from the manufacturers for free.

Nothing here is new or needs to be studied. This is tech 101 kinda stuff.  You don't need a magazine or a third party organization to help you prove it to a customer. If they question you, there is only one answer, the right one. Are you going to torque a head bolt wrong because the customer thinks it should be done a different way? No, learn about what you're doing, do it right and if a customer doesn't like it you can refuse the job.

Remember the customer comes to you because YOU are the expert and they can not do this themselves. By doing something wrong or appeasing a customer with an incorrect repair or service you are enabling them to be unsafe and supporting their incorrect information. That helps no one. BE that EXPERT, know what you're doing and do it the only way it should be done, the RIGHT WAY.

This isn't meant to call out JimO specifically by the way, this statement goes for anyone that doesn't already get the point.

Junior, 

I think you need to open a few more owners manuals and try to find something concerning tire rotations besides recommended rotation intervals and rotation patterns. I have opened thousands of manuals over the years looking for a variety of information. Sometimes the manuals have useful information and sometimes I am disappointed. Lack of written information in these manuals and other reference information concerning tread depth differentials front to back and when NOT to rotate is what caused me to post a comment on this subject. Let’s be realistic, the owners manual states how to operate and generally maintain the vehicle but in most cases it lacks the technical information that we require. The owner should read and reference the manual for their vehicle and when practical the technician can do the same and in doing so may get lucky and find a solution to a problem. Sorry to bore you with what you refer to as “tech 101 stuff” but I personally think Tyrguy is correct in keeping any reference material at hand to show a customer that questions him. I always strive to give each and every customer “the right answer” and I would never perform a task improperly because a customer thinks it should be done that way. If you elect to refuse jobs because someone questions you that is your prerogative but I would rather take the time to explain my reasoning and if needed back up my statements with written information from a reputable source. Hopefully your customers accept your “my way or the highway” mentality. I would never perform improper “wrong” repairs to “appease a customer” and I find it odd that you somehow read my post and came to that conclusion. 

Although your post indicates otherwise I beg to differ, you did your best to call me out but unfortunately it was not good enough. You missed the point.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I've been struggling with this for a while. Being in this business for a long time, I was always taught you want your best tires in the front because 100% of your steering and 70% of the braking is done with the front tires. Now, I have also read the recommendations, and reasons for having the best tires in the rear which also makes sense. My question is, if we adopt the belief that the best tires should always be on the back, doesn't that eliminate the need for tire rotations on most cars? Looking forward to hearing feedback on this.

Scott

 

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Scott, I think you identify a valid point that if we adopt a zero tolerance, best tires on rear approach, tire rotations are basically eliminated. New cars presented for the first service will often have a measurable difference between front and rear tires, should they not be rotated? Different publications and articles that I have read in the past will often refer to tread depth differentials as a determining factor when deciding rotate or not to rotate. That being said it is unclear to me where these tread depth differential specs come from. Most of the specs that I have seen indicate a 2/32” to 3/32” tread depth differential cut point. Meaning if the front tires are at 7/32” and the rear tires are at 9/32” the tread depth differential would be 2/32” and rotating would be acceptable. But if the front tires were at 5/32” and the rear tires were at 9/32” then the differential is 4/32” which is excessive and the tires should not be rotated. In a previous post I suggested that the RMA should provide us with written guidance concerning tire rotations that include definitive differential tread depth measurement cut points. If they determine best tires on rear regardless of tread depth differentials then so be it, but put it in writing. 

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1 hour ago, tyrguy said:

Except in unusual circumstances, if tires are rotated every 5k from mile 1, there will never be enough of a tread differential to deter tire rotations.

And we can probably all agree that except in unusual circumstances, car owners are not going to have their tires rotated every 5k.

Scott

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Well we give all out tire customers rotation schedules when we sell a set and I'd say the vast majority of them stick pretty close to the schedule. Plus mechanicnet sends out rotation reminders which helps. I don't think the real problem is the rotation of  a set that was originally install together. I think the problem is mostly when only 2 tires are being installed.

Edited by tyrguy
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13 minutes ago, tyrguy said:

Well we give all out tire customers rotation schedules when we sell a set and I'd say the vast majority of them stick pretty close to the schedule. Plus mechanicnet sends out rotation reminders which helps. I don't think the real problem is the rotation of  a set that was originally install together. I think the problem is mostly when only 2 tires are being installed.

That is pretty impressive. With 7,500 and 15,000 mile oil changes being pushed by the manufactures, I'm finding it challenging to get customers in more often than that. I'm curious what others here are experiencing.

 

Scott 

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