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Do allwheel drive tires need to be rotated?

All Wheel Drive Tire Rotation Patterns

Tire rotation patterns vary for several reasons. But the most common reason is the axle that drives the vehicle forward. In this case, both.

Most all wheel drive cars and trucks tend to have a rear wheel drive bias and when rotating tires on AWD vehicles the patterns are usually similar to rear wheel drive patterns.

All Wheel Drive Tire Rotation Pattern

There are two acceptable rotation patterns for all wheel drive vehicles. The rearward cross and X-pattern. The rearward cross is the more preferable method since it better distributes the tires around the car or truck over time.

As with most advice though, be sure and read your owner’s manual for specific recommendations from your vehicle manufacturer.

The rearward cross is the slightly preferred pattern of the two primary patterns for all wheel and four wheel drive vehicles.

The rearward cross moves the front tires rearward and across to the opposite sides of the vehicle. The rear tires move forward but remain on the same sides of the car or truck.


The X-pattern is an acceptable alternative to the rearward cross. Although, it does not have the benefit of eventually rotating the tires around to every position. It will only swap each tire with one other position.

The X-pattern is simple and simply moves the front tires to the rear and across to the opposite sides of the vehicle. The rear tires move forward and also cross to the opposite sides of the car or truck.

Best Tire Rotation Pattern For AWD

The best tire rotation pattern for all wheel drive vehicles is the rearward cross. It ensures that every tire will rotate to each wheel position after a few rotations. It also focuses on distributing the rear tire wear a little better by ensuring that the rear tires always cross to opposite sides each rotation.

How To Rotate Directional Tires On AWD

Directional tires are usually excellent performers in wet weather, providing excellent traction. But they have the disadvantage of not being able to be rotated with typical rotation patterns.

Once a directional tire is mounted on a wheel it can only be used on one side of your car or truck. If it is moved to the opposite side it will spin in the opposite direction that it was designed to work.

Directional tread patterns can only spin one way and if they are mounted incorrectly it can cause a dangerous situation, especially in wet conditions.

Front To Rear

Because the tires can not cross to the opposite sides of your car or truck, the only rotation pattern available is front to rear. In the front to rear pattern, the rear wheels swap positions with the front wheels. No tires cross over to the opposite sides of the vehicle.

How To Rotate Staggered Tires On AWD

Staggered wheels and tires are those that are different sizes between the front and rear axles. For instance, all-wheel drive sports cars that have a greater than normal rear bias may have wider tires on the rear to provide better traction during acceleration and help prevent oversteer when cornering.

Staggered wheels and tires can not be rotated front and rear and must remain on the same axle. They can only be rotated side to side. Unfortunately side to side tire rotations tend to have much less benefit to tire life than front to rear rotations, but it will help even wear inconsistencies between the two sides.

Side To Side

As the name implies, side to side rotation involves simply swapping one front tire with the other front tire and one rear tire with the other rear tire.

How To Rotate Tires On AWD With Full Size Matching Spare Tire

If you have an all wheel drive car or truck that also happens to have a full size spare tire with a matching wheel, including it in regular rotation of the tires will greatly improve the tire life of the complete set and ensure that the spare tire doesn’t go to waste before it dry rots due to age.

The spare tire will also be much more likely to be in good condition and properly inflated and holding air well if it is in regular use.

Rearward Cross 5-Tire Rotation Pattern

The rearward cross 5-tire pattern of rotation is the best pattern for including a spare tire into regular rotation on an all wheel driven car or truck.

As the name implies, it’s simply a modification of the rearward cross that adds the extra tire. The only difference is the driver’s side front tire moves to the spare location and the spare moves to the passenger side rear wheel position.

Do You Need To Rotate Tires On AWD

Every car or truck can benefit from tire rotations. When all four tires are being driven, the tires will wear more evenly than rear or front wheel drive vehicles, but there are still significant differences between the rear and front tires.

If you rotate your tires regularly, you can even out the wear between the front and rear wheel positions and help extend tire life.

How Often Should I Rotate AWD Tires?

All tires should be rotated according to the tire manufacturer requirements to maintain your tire warranty. This duration is usually between 5,000 and 8,000 miles.

You should check the paperwork you received with your tires to confirm the mileage requirement and look for any other requirements needed to make sure you can make a warranty claim.

Is Tire Rotation Necessary For AWD?

You need to rotate tires according to the tire manufacturer requirements to maintain your warranty. If you do not perform this tire maintenance task you will void your warranty as well as shorten the life of your tires.

Final Thoughts

Having your tires rotated can seem insignificant, but the most important benefit is the tire warranty. The second most important benefit is extending the life of your tires, which saves you real money. Tires are expensive and arguably the most important part on your car or truck.

You can usually get your tires rotated for free with other maintenance services so there is little reason not to have a rotation performed.


  • When should you rotate all wheel drive tires? – KalTire
  • Even AWD vehicles require tire rotation – Tire Review

All about AWD tire rotation

Do you have to change your tires soon? Whether this task is carried out by you or your mechanic, certain guidelines should be followed; in fact, a proper tire rotation is not done the same on a front-wheel drive vehicle as on an all-wheel drive model.

How to rotate tires for AWD?

Swapping the tires on your vehicle is not as simple as removing them, storing them and then putting them back on in whatever order when the season changes! In fact, there is an order to rotating tires on an AWD vehicle and following it is important.

To rotate the tires on an all-wheel drive vehicle, you must follow an “X” pattern: the left front tire will go to the right rear and vice versa; the same goes for the right front tire, which will go to the left rear.

Also, if your vehicle is equipped with a tire pressure monitoring system, it will need to be reset after each tire rotation.

This technique is specific to 4-wheel drive vehicles; the tires will not be rotated in the same way if they are mounted on a rear-wheel drive or front-wheel drive model.

It is also possible to rotate the front tires in an “X” pattern (left front tire to right rear and right front tire to left rear) and put the rear tires on the front while keeping their original side (left rear tire to left front and vice versa on the right).

How often should the tires on an AWD vehicle be rotated?

According to the APA (Automobile Protection Association), tires should be rotated at regular intervals to promote the most even wear possible.

In general, it is recommended that tires be rotated every 10,000 to 12,000 kilometres, which is about the same as when you change your tires. You drive with your 4-season tires, remove them for winter and rotate them when you put them back on.

Caution: replacing only 2 of the 4 tires on an AWD vehicle is not recommended, as it could distort the distribution of driving force between the front and rear wheels, or damage the center differential.

Why rotate the tires of an AWD vehicle?

Rotating the tires on an AWD vehicle – like with any other vehicle for that matter – will extend the life of your tires and improve their performance.

Indeed, with the proper tire rotation for the type of drive system the vehicle is equipped with, you reduce the risk of uneven tread wear, thereby extending the life of your tires.

Not only will you enjoy better handling, but you’ll also have a safer ride because you’ll always have tires of similar size, and you’ll avoid the risk of imbalance between the front and rear of the vehicle.

AWD Tire Rotation pattern diagram

The following diagram illustrates the proper way to rotate tires on an AWD vehicle.

Image showing the X rotation of AWD tires

If you are not sure how to rotate the tires on your AWD vehicle, don’t hesitate to have it done at your garage. They will also be able to tell you how worn your tires are!

When should you rotate AWD tires?

AWD logo on vehicle

With Canada’s unpredictable winter weather conditions, drivers have come to appreciate the added traction and safety of All-wheel drive (AWD) vehicles. To get the best performance, do you know when to rotate AWD tires?

There’s a common misconception that tire rotation isn’t necessary for AWD vehicles. Some think that since AWD systems constantly deliver power to all four tires, the tires are all wearing at the same rate.

However regular tire maintenance, including tire rotations, is important for all-wheel drive vehicles—in part because different auto manufacturers have developed several variations of AWD systems.

AWD SYSTEMS: Why you still need to rotate AWD tires

Part-time: In normal driving conditions, one axle receives power. In slippery conditions, the driver can engage the other axle with the press of a button (or lever).

Full-time: All wheels are powered at all times.

On-demand: Vehicle sensors detect slippery road conditions, and automatically deliver power to the other axle until normal road conditions resume.

No matter which AWD system your vehicle has, each wheel position will experience a different degree of steering, weight dispersion and traction. When tires are allowed to run on every wheel position, they wear out more uniformly, decreasing the chance of irregular wear.

Benefits of rotating tires on AWD vehicles

Next to checking tire pressure, proper rotation is the second-most important maintenance item for any vehicle, including AWD’s. That’s because tire rotations:

  • Prevent uneven wear
  • Maximize tire life
  • Improve traction, handling and road noise

When your tires are in peak condition, you enjoy smooth, safe driving as well as savings with long-lasting tires.

Ensuring that all four tires are as uniform as possible puts less stress on the components of your AWD system. If the difference in diameter between two tires on the same axle is off by even 1/16 of an inch, it’ll mean one tire is spinning at a substantially different rate than its partner. This can cause the AWD system extra stress, and possibly result in failure.

How should AWD tires be rotated?

Best practice is to rotate your tires every 8,000-10,000 kilometres, or every other oil change. For rear-wheel drive or AWD/4WD, the rotation pattern goes as follows:

  • Left rear goes to right front
  • Right rear goes to the left front
  • Right front goes to left rear
  • Left front goes to the right rear

If you have a full-size spare tire, it should be added to your regular rotations. Keeping the spare tire’s tread equal with the others in an AWD or 4WD will prevent damage to the driveline (the mechanism that sends power from the engine to your wheels).

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