How to Rotate Tires with One Jack

By Jed Lehman •  Updated: 08/22/22 •  7 min read

Tires can wear out over time, which not only affects their performance but also raises your chance of getting a flat on the road. To help keep your tires in good shape, learn how to rotate them with one jack.

Contents:

What is Tire Rotation?

Regular tire rotation will give you the chance to inspect your tires visually for damage. In addition, you should check the air pressure, have them rebalanced if you hear any vibrations, and measure the tread depth.

Why is Tire Rotation Important?

The rotation of your tires is a crucial part of your regular tire maintenance for a number of reasons.

Since deep, new tire tread is more susceptible to uneven wear, rotating new tires every 5,000 miles is especially important.

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How to Rotate Your Tires With One Jack

As a precaution, we always advise against rotating your tires with one jack. However, if you absolutely need to do so, the below steps will help you safely accomplish your goal. Whenever possible, it is a good idea to have someone with you while you perform this maintenance.

1. Park Your Vehicle and Apply Your Parking Brake

Before you do anything else, make sure to park your car in a safe location. It’s best to perform your tire rotation on level ground, with no other passing cars nearby. Ideally, you should do this in your garage or driveway. When your car is in park, engage your parking brake.

2. Loosen Wheel Lug Nuts

After you’ve parked your automobile and applied the parking brake, you can now begin to loosen the lug nuts.

Pry off any hubcaps or wheel covers if your car has them. From there, fasten a wrench to one of the lug nuts and twist it counterclockwise. Continue doing this until all of the lug nuts are loose enough to be turned by hand.

Make sure you’re loosening your lug nuts while your car is still on the ground. If you try to loosen the lug nuts after jacking the car up, it can be challenging because your wheels can spin.

3. Raise the Car Using a Jack and Rest it on Jack Stands

It’s now time to elevate your automobile. Place the jack underneath the metal piece of your car’s frame. The jack should not touch any plastic molding. The best way to ensure you’re putting your jack in the ideal spot is to consult your owner’s manual.

When you’ve got your jack where you want it, jack up the front or back of the vehicle, then lower the axle until it is resting on a jack stand. Continue until all four tires are airborne and the jack stands are completely supporting the car.

4. Remove Your Tires and Start the Rotation Process

Once your tires are safely in the air, you can now take them off and begin the rotation. Make sure you are using the right rotation pattern based on the type of vehicle you have. If you are unsure about this, click here.

5. Tighten the Lug Nuts and Lower the Car

Once you have completed the rotation, tighten the lug nuts until they start spinning. The tire should then be cautiously lowered to the ground after carefully jacking up one axle and removing the jack support. For the other three tires, repeat the same procedure.

6. Final Step

Once on the ground, circle back to each tire and firmly tighten the lug nuts.

Congratulations, you have successfully rotated your tires with one jack.

What Tire Rotation Pattern Should I Use?

There are numerous tire rotation patterns, and the one you should use depends on different factors.

Below are the most common types of tire rotation patterns based on front or rear wheel drive vehicles.

Front Wheel Drive Vehicles

Forward Cross Pattern

The most common pattern for front-wheel-drive cars is the forward cross pattern. The rear tires are shifted diagonally up to the opposite side of the front axle, while the front axle tires are pushed straight back.

4-Wheel and Rear Wheel Drive Vehicles

Rearward Cross Pattern

For vehicles with rear-wheel drive, all-wheel drive, or 4-wheel-drive, we advise the rearward cross pattern. The front tires are shifted to the opposing sides of the rear axle while the rear tires are moved to the forward axle and kept on the same side of the vehicle.

How Often Should You Rotate Your Tires?

Rotating your tires keeps them in good shape, lowers the likelihood of flats, and lengthens their lifespan. The regular recommendation on tire rotation is every 5,000 to 7,500 miles.

If you really want to stay on top of your tire maintenance, here is a quick guide to help you figure out the right interval:

Does Tire Rotation Impact Alignment?

Many people believe that rotating their tires will help keep their vehicle’s alignment in check. However, this is not the case. Alignment is determined by the angle of your vehicle’s wheels in relation to your car’s body. Rotating your tires will not change this angle. However, if your alignment is off, it can cause your tires to wear unevenly. As a result, you may notice that your vehicle pulls to one side or the other when you are driving.

If you suspect that your alignment is off, it is best to take your vehicle to a professional for an inspection.

Conclusion

So, there you have it! Now you know how to rotate tires with one jack. It’s not as hard as it may seem, and by following these simple steps, you can save yourself a lot of time and hassle. Have any questions or comments? Contact us here.

Jed Lehman

Jed Lehman is a born gearhead who has been working on cars since he could crawl. He inherited his love for auto from his grandfather who owned a maintenance shop in Carlsbad, California. Jed is the driver behind Gearshift, and started this site to provide straightforward, helpful automobile information. From maintenance tips to product reviews, you can find it all here.