Rotating your tires is an essential part of thorough car maintenance. By rotating your tires, you are making sure that your tires are always wearing evenly across all four corners. It’s common knowledge that the front and rear tires don’t wear in the same way which means when you rotate them, you are balancing the wear as much as possible.
The easiest thing you can do is to take your car to an experienced shop where they can do everything for you in 10-20 minutes. However, you can also do some bonding time with your car and do it yourself, even with a single jack. So, how to rotate tires with one jack?
How To Rotate Tires With One Jack
First of all, rotating your tires by yourself with one jack is not an advisable thing to do because it is both dangerous and unnecessary. However, if you are willing to give it a try, you will have to acquire one or preferably two jack stands which will help you along the way. You will have to lift your car with the jack and place the jack stands at appropriate locations around the car.
Then, you should rotate your tires depending on the car’s rotation pattern which also means that you should take into account if you are using directional or non-directional tires.
How To Rotate Tires With One Jack: Step By Step Guide
- Park your car and apply the parking brake
- Loosen up the lug nuts
- Raise the car with the jack
- Support the jack with jack stands
- Remove the tires and rotate them
- Remove the jack stands and lower the car
Park Your Car And Apply The Parking Brake
Before you do anything, you need to make sure that the car is parked on level ground away from traffic, and preferably in a shielded place such as a garage. You need to engage the parking brake before you do anything as even though you are on level ground when you raise the car, chances are that the car could roll.
Loosen The Wheel Lug Nuts And Studs
Whatever you do, don’t do the rookie mistake of raising your car up and then remembering that you need to loosen the nuts and studs. You need to do this while on the ground as the tire is likely to rotate if it’s not being held down by the ground. You should not completely loosen them, but only slightly just to get the tension off.
Raise The Car With A Jack
Now it’s time to finally raise the car up, but before you do, be sure to go through the owner’s manual to see where you should jack the car up. Not all cars are the same which means that some cars have designated places where you can lift them, while others can be lifted almost anywhere. If you own an EV, you need to be extra careful as the underside of an EV is typically where the batteries are located at.
Support The Car With Jack Stands
After you have successfully lifted the car enough for at least two tires to be off the ground, now you have to place one, or preferably two jack stands near the two tires you plan on rotating. This needs some precision work so be sure to take your time and potentially even go through a few online videos to see where it’s best to put the jack stand as not all cars are the same.
After you’ve put the jack stands in place, and you are 100% sure that they are not going anywhere, be sure to lower the jack slightly in order for the car to fully rest on the stands. You can nudge the car a little bit to see if everything is sturdy and stays in place, if it is, it’s time to rotate some tires.
Remove The Tires And Rotate Them
Now it’s time to rotate your tires which means following a strict rotational pattern depending on the type of car you own and the manufacturer’s recommendations. Also, if you only have one jack stand, be sure to raise the two tires you plan on rotating as this is the best and easiest way to do so. Double-check if everything is correct when you finish as you don’t want to realize you’ve rotated the tires in an incorrect pattern after you lower the car to the ground.
Remove The Jack Stands And Lower The Car
After you’ve double-checked that everything is done according to the pattern, you can now start tightening the nuts and studs, but don’t go all the way as that is something you will be doing when you lower the car down. Be sure to raise the jack a little bit in order to clear the jack stands, but do so slowly and don’t go underneath the car at any point.
After you’ve successfully removed the stands, now it’s time to fully lower the car to the ground, tighten up the tires to an appropriate torque level, and congratulations, you have just successfully rotated your car’s tires.
Which Tire Jacks Are Best For Rotating Tires?
You can always use the jack that probably came with your car, but it’s common knowledge that those are only designed for emergencies such as replacing a single tire. As such, if you can get your hands on a 1-ton jack, or a 2-ton jack, that would probably be ideal. However, it also depends on the type of car you own as some heavier sedans, trucks, and SUVs are likely going to need something beefier like a 3-ton jack.
Always make sure that the jack you are using is capable of withstanding the weight of the car. Don’t go ahead and use a tiny jack thinking that everything will be fine as that could cause lots of damage. If you don’t have an appropriate jack, just go ahead and take your car to places like Walmart or Discount Tire and they will happily do it for you.
Can Tire Rotations Affect My Wheel Alignment?
Contrary to popular belief, tire rotations do not affect wheel alignment. If everything was fine with your wheel alignment to begin with, chances are that a simple tire rotation is not going to change a thing. You can check your car for signs of misaligned wheels while you are rotating them as wheel misalignment typically leads to uneven tire wear by itself.
This means that if you keep your wheels aligned and your tire rotated every 5,000-7,500 miles, you should not worry about uneven tire wear. Either way, no matter which sort of maintenance you do to your tires, you should always give them a good hard look to see if everything is in order and if there are any signs of uneven tire wear.
How Long Does It Take To Rotate Tires By Yourself?
The answer to this question depends on if you’ve had any previous experience rotating tires, or not. For someone who knows his/hers way around cars, rotating tires should not take any longer than 20-30 minutes. If you have decent experience rotating tires and you use all the right equipment for the job, you can rotate tires in less than 10 minutes.
On the other hand, if you are going to rotate your tires for the very first time, don’t keep track of time as that will only distract you. You should take your time to make sure that everything is in the right place and that you have done everything you can for the process to go as smoothly and as precisely as possible.
When Should I Not Rotate Tires By Myself?
Even though DIY tire rotations could be a great way to learn a thing or two about your car, relax, and save some money, it’s sometimes best to just let the professionals do it. As such, be sure to consider this list before you attempt to rotate tires all by yourself.
- You don’t have a jack at all
- You don’t have a jack stand
- You don’t have access to an area that is suitable for rotating tires
- You own a heavy car
- Your parking brake does not work
If you can relate to anything from this list, it’s best for you to just take your car to someone who can rotate your tires for you as it’s never a good idea to risk yourself, your car, or everyone around you to do simple and cheap tire maintenance.
Rotating your tires with a single jack is not something anyone deems ideal so if you are going to attempt it, be sure to do it slowly, safely, and precisely. It is indeed possible to rotate tires with a single jack as many people do so anyway. To do it successfully, you need to place both the jack and the stands in the correct position so as not to damage your car, or yourself, in the process.
After you’ve made sure that the car is raised and is going nowhere, you can rotate the tires according to the pattern. After you are finished, you can lower the car down and go spend that $20-40 on something more valuable.