Originally Posted by avanti
Routine tire rotation is generally not cost-effective. Its purpose is to keep you coming into the service center. Certainly not worth the hassle and expense.
Just keep your suspension in good shape.
I used to think this way a lot more than I do now. I also have been changing my mind on rotation pattern if you do rotate them.
I tend to keep the vehicles in very good condition, so no loose front end parts or bad alignments, etc. I also watch the tire wear patterns and pressures closely.
Front drivers do tend to wear the front tires more than the rears, I would guess as high as 2 to 1 on some of the cars we have had, and in the past a lot of gurus were saying to only rotate front to rear, even if the tires were non directional. The theory had something to do with the rotation direction wear pattern would make traction and wear better if not changed. What I found happening was that there certainly was a directional pattern over time, and really only major on any edges of tread that were across the tread face. Circumferential tread is continuous so no pattern. The leading edges would wear faster than the rest of the tread so each tire "block" would be a little wedge shape. Whether this improved anything was something I could not tell, either better or worse, but what it did do was tend to make some tires get really noisy as they wore down.
I have since started doing the normal 4 or 5 tire rotation patterns and the blocks now stay flat, and quiet.
I do my own rotations at home, so cost is zero for us, so not a big deal, as I really like to get a look at the brakes every 10K miles or so anyway which means the wheels are off.
A lot of places offer free lifetime rotation with new tire purchases which can be a good deal for those that don't do their own, and normally doesn't increase the cost of the tires. Two of our vehicles have that with the new tires, but we never use it. If you do have the free rotation be very aware of why they offer it for free. First and foremost they want to get you there and vehicle on the hoist so they can check stuff and try to sell you things like alignments, brakes, shocks, mufflers, air cleaners, oil change, trans flush, batteries, wiper blades, etc. If you do take advantage of the free rotation, be sure expect the sales pitch, and/or just tell them you only want the rotation and not to do the other checks. When I got the last set of tires for my old Escort, they broke the air cleaner box cover while checking it. Luckily they had a window to the shop and saw it happen, and when I asked about it they said they always check everything as a service and that the cover was already broken. They did finally buy a new one for it, though, after a few phone calls. If you see the hood open when getting tires rotated, you either have very weird tire locations
or they are going places they don't need to be.