All-wheel drive (AWD) vehicles have become increasingly popular in Canada in recent years. With our unpredictable winter weather conditions, drivers appreciate the added traction and safety they provide. However, to get the best performance possible, it’s important to perform regular tire maintenance, including proper AWD tire rotations for all-wheel drive vehicles.
There’s a common misconception that tire rotation isn’t necessary for AWD vehicles. The reasoning is based on the assumption that AWD systems constantly deliver power to all four tires, which means they’re all wearing at the same rate. However, different auto manufacturers have developed several variations of AWD systems:
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.
As you can see, this can easily lead to confusion when it comes to tire rotations for AWD vehicles. What you need to know is, next to checking your tire pressure, proper rotation is the second-most important maintenance item for any vehicle, including AWDs.
Prolonging Tire Life
Regular tire rotations for AWD vehicles means you’ll maximize the life of your tires by preventing uneven wear. By keeping your tires in peak condition, you’ll also benefit from superior traction and handling as well as less road noise. You’ll enjoy smooth, safe driving a well as savings with long-lasting tires.
Keeping a Fine Balance
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.
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.
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).
Are you noticing uneven tread wear on your all-wheel drive vehicle’s tires? Visit one of our Kal Tire locations to discuss the benefits of tire rotations for AWD vehicle. Our Customer Care Plan includes free rotations at the recommended intervals when you buy a set of tires.