What You Need To Know About Tire Rotations and TPMS
April 9th, 2016
Updated March 17th, 2017
Winchester, VA - If you've reviewed your owner’s manual once or twice - you probably skimmed through the section on “Tire Rotations” and the importance of rotating your tires on a periodic basis. This critically important maintenance item is one of the cornerstone elements of optimal vehicle performance, but surprisingly, it is neglected by many drivers. In theory, a tire rotation is a very simple concept: You simply remove all of the tires, rotate the back ones to the front and the front ones to the back, and then re-install them. Other tire rotation patterns can come into play, but the basic premise is the same--you move the tires around in different positions, so that they don't stay in the same spot for the duration of their lifespan. This is important, because if you never rotate your tires, they will inevitably experience uneven tread wear, which can reduce performance and create an inconsistent lifespan for each tire.
TPMS: The "Monkey Wrench" of Tire Rotation
As mentioned earlier, rotating your tires seems like a pretty straightforward job, but recently it has become a little more complicated due to a relatively new feature on vehicles known as the Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS). This small device is designed to keep track of the amount of air pressure in your tires to ensure that they're properly inflated, which will improve gas mileage and increase the lifespan of your tires. The TPMS will also provide you with an alert any time your vehicle experiences a loss of tire pressure. So how does this simple safety device affect your ability to rotate your tires?
Each tire contains a tiny sensor that feeds the car's computer with information regarding how much air pressure is in the tire. Before your first-ever tire rotation, this is not a big deal, but when it comes time to rotate the tires, a problem emerges: The sensors are specific to each tire, and the car's computer knows which tire is which based on its original, straight-off-the-assembly-line position. In other words, the car's computer can tell the difference between the front left tire and the rear right tire. When the tires are rotated, this "confuses" the computer, prompting it to turn on a light on the instrument panel until the problem is resolved and the computer is reset. The majority of TPMS sensors in use today require some type of scan tool to reset the TPMS after a tire rotation, and others that are more sensitive can even require a reset just from putting air in the tire.
Ever since 2008, the government has required these systems to be installed on every car manufactured in the U.S. What this means is that if your car is a 2008 or later, it will have a TPMS, so you will need to be sure to check the owner's manual of your vehicle before you decide to get your tires rotated, or even if you just need to add a little air to one of your tires. If you want to rotate your vehicle's tires yourself, you can actually purchase a TPMS scan reset tool that will enable you to do the job. If all of this seems like more trouble than what it's worth, you're better off taking your car to a local auto repair shop and having them perform the tire rotation for you.
Watch this video from Might Auto Parts on "How Do Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems Work:
*Always check your owner’s manual for your vehicle model’s specific instructions before attempting any type of repair.
Hogan & Sons Tire and Auto provides automotive safety and auto repair information for the sole purpose of educating the community at large. “We believe an educated customer is a loyal customer.” Hogan and Sons Tire and Auto in Winchester, Virginia. 8 locations throughout the Northern Virginia to choose from. http://www.hoganandsonsinc.com
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Video Credit: Mighty Auto Parts