How Much Do Tire Rotations Cost? (2022 Pricing Guide)

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Updated December 2, 2022

Should you look into tire rotation for your car? In the following guide you’ll learn:

  • What is tire rotation?
  • Why regular tire rotations are necessary
  • Extending your tires’ lifespan
  • The cost of tire rotation

Let’s hop on to it and hear from the experts!

How Much Do Tire Rotations Cost?

Table of Contents

How Much Do Tire Rotations Cost On Average?

How much does it cost to rotate tires on your vehicle? The short answer is anywhere from $35 to over $200 for a basic rotation depending on your make of vehicle and where you get your vehicle serviced.

The final price you pay for this very necessary service can depend on where you live. It can also depend on whether you have your vehicle serviced regularly at your local garage, or if you prefer using the dealership where you purchased your vehicle. Hourly rates differ from dealerships and chain outlets such as a Walmart service center.

Dealerships generally have higher service rates than the local unaffiliated garage, though often they have deals, a sort of loss leader to bring in new customers. The cost will also depend upon what other services you want done at the same time. A simple tire rotation service as defined in the owner’s manual or by tire manufacturers is often just a matter of lifting your vehicle on a hoist and swapping the wheels around to minimize uneven tire wear regardless of the type of tire.

However, there are many other factors that can come into play as I have discovered in my 40-plus years of working as a mechanic and in garage ownership.

In this article, I’ll do a deep dive into all the things that can go right and what can go wrong with a tire rotation, both front tires and rear tires.

How Much Do Tire Rotations Cost On Average

What are the costs of labor for my type of vehicle?

If you have read other articles on this website, you will know the hourly charge-out rate for having your vehicle worked on can vary greatly. Not only can it vary from tire shops to tire shops, but also from dealerships to dealerships, towns to towns and states to states.

Some facilities will have a flat rate for a tire rotation that based on whether your vehicle is all-wheel drive/four wheel drive, front-wheel drive or rear wheel drive.

To give you an idea of labor costs across the country, it appears automobile owners in Ohio pay the lowest hourly rates while car owners in California pay the highest.

In having an engine check light analyzed and the problem repaired, an Ohio driver will pay an average of $340 compared to California drivers who pay an average of $410.

If you are a “diy” (do-It-yourselfer) person and have the equipment, your labor cost is free!

What are the costs of parts?

Generally speaking, the parts required for a tire rotation are minimal. If you are just having your car’s tires switched around, back to front and front to back, no parts are needed.

If you decide to have tire balancing at the same time as you rotate your tires, you will incur the cost of wheel balance weights. Can a tire be balanced without weights?  Having a perfectly balanced wheel without the use of balance weights is unlikely. Neither wheel rims of the best tire are perfectly molded and for this reason, balance weights are required to balance out the inequities in both.

Most tire shops or repair facilities will do a quick check-over of your vehicle’s suspension and brakes with the wheels off. This is both a courtesy to you the vehicle owner and a way of bringing in more business. The shop may suggest at that time, a wheel alignment.

If they do find an issue such as a worn steering tie rod end or a worn ball joint then you will be in the position of paying out for parts if you agree to have the work done. Generally speaking, the repair shop will provide you with a written estimate and advise you as to how urgently you need to have the work done.

Having the written estimate in hand, you can visit other shops to see which one can offer the best deal. Make sure you ask about the shop’s warranty.

Keep in mind, that when you take your vehicle in for a tire rotation service, there is the chance the technician will find some issues with your tires. The tread may be worn down below the safety margin or you can have uneven tire wear in which case, you will be in for the cost of new tires. If that is the case, ask for a written estimate and shop around for a tire replacement.

Cost Of Parts - How Much Does A Tire Rotation Cost

When Should You Get A Tire Rotation?

 How often should you get a tire rotation is a common question asked by vehicle owners and the answer to that question is – it varies.

When I was in the business, I had a customer reminder system in place where I would drop a postcard in the mail to customers to nudge them their vehicle was due for an oil change, a tune-up or a tire rotation. My recommendation was to rotate the tires every 5,000 to 7,500 miles.

Most manufacturers recommend every 6,000 to 8,000 miles or every 6 months.

A lot depends on how much you use your vehicle. If you rack up 20,000 miles a year you are going to need your tires rotated more often over the course of a year than someone who just drives weekends. Regardless of your driving habits, tire maintenance should always be factored in.

Why Do I Need A Tire Rotation?

A common question that arises is why the need for a tire rotation? There are two main reasons. Tire safety and tire lifespan.

Before radial tires became the go-to tire of car manufacturers, cars came equipped with cross-ply or bias ply tires. These pneumatic tires were invented in 1898 and were multi-directional meaning a tire rotation could be carried out diagonally. Therefore the LR tire would be swapped with the RF tire and the LF tire could be swapped with the RR tire to prevent uneven tire wear.

Cross-ply tires are not as road hugging as radial tires at high speeds as the tire does not retain its shape as the radial tire does. They don’t provide as much tire wall stiffness in dealing with centrifugal forces. Due to its thickness and makeup, a cross-ply tire can expand by around a third of an inch or 10mm at speeds of 100 miles an hour which increases heat build-up.

Radial tires were invented in France in 1948. The big difference between cross-ply tires and radial tires is the radial tire has a central belt running the circumference of the tire upon which the rest of the tire is built upon. This belt provides the tire with less flex and greater stability. This in turn helps the tire retain its profile at high-speed driving, high-speed cornering forces and life span.  Until recently, radial tires were unidirectional meaning a LR tire could not be swapped with a RF tire as bias ply tires can be. A tire rotation if your vehicle has unidirectional radial tires means swapping front to back, therefore, the LR tire is swapped with the LF tire and the RF tire is swapped with the RR tire.

The reason for this is simple. If the tire is not multidirectional, it establishes a tread wear pattern in the direction they roll in, therefore, a forward direction. If the tires are swapped diagonally, a LR tire switched to the RF they would be rolling in the opposite direction to the way the tread has settled into. This can cause issues with tire noise and reduce the lifespan of a tire and is also a matter of safety.

To determine if your tires are unidirectional or multidirectional check out the tread pattern.

Tires that are unidirectional have a V-shaped or asymmetrical tread pattern that resists hydroplaning, a problem for some tires in wet weather when the vehicle runs through pools of standing water on the road.

How Much Does A Tire Rotation Cost At The Dealer Vs Other Places?

Generally speaking, car dealerships have a higher hourly service rate than independent tire shops or auto repair shops. The reason being, dealerships have higher overheads and are sometimes union shops.

I recall a customer once complaining about my company’s hourly rate. She said: “I wish I could earn that much an hour”.  I had to educate her on the cost of running a business. The rate she was being charged was not going into my pocket I said but had to cover technicians’ wages, rent, taxes, overheads such as hydro, water, heating, etc, bookkeeping, servicing equipment and on and on.

A search on the internet reveals an average cost of a tire rotation is $35. Some dealerships charge up to $210 for this service. If we take these numbers as a high and a low and average them out, we get $122.

The following are several examples of independents and chain outlets compared to a median price of $122 for a tire rotation as offered by dealers.

Where Should You Go For A Tire Rotation To Get The Best Price?

If you use the dealership where you bought your vehicle, check their prices first. If you are a regular customer, the dealer may give you a special price on a tire rotation or offer it as a complimentary service if you are getting your brakes checked for example.

Always ask if they are offering a deal. It never hurts and can save you some money

When I ran my own business, I would always ask the customer if they wanted their tires rotated. If their car was up on a hoist, it did not take the technician much more time to provide a complimentary tire rotation. And, it was good PR for my business.

Automotive chain shops like Jiffy Lube, Midas and Walmart often have online coupons. If your vehicle requires an oil change service, ask the shop if they can also rotate your tires while your vehicle is on the hoist. If your tires don’t require a balance, then the odds are good the store will rotate your tire for a nominal fee or provide a free rotation.

It always pays to shop around but if you always use the same service center, ask them for a deal or incorporate the rotation with another service.

How To Avoid Getting Ripped Off When Needing A Tire Rotation?

There are a few things I recommend when having the tires on your vehicle rotated. Keep in mind, as with any business, there are some bad apples in the automotive repair business. A common ploy by these shops is that once your car is on the hoist, you are a captive audience and they will use this to pressure you into getting repairs done that may or may not be necessary.

They may try to sell you a new set of tires. Or, you may get a call advising you of worn ball joints, worn steering links, a leak in your exhaust system, or some item that is not apparent to you the vehicle owner that may or may not affect fuel efficiency or the life of your tires.

If the car has been operating just fine, always opt to get a second opinion. Generally speaking, there are few suspension, steering, and exhaust problems that are going to prevent you from driving your car to another facility and requesting a review or a second opinion.

How To Save Money On Tire Rotations?

Regularly servicing your vehicle for required maintenance tasks is a great way to save money. Also, using the same service center for your repairs and services, by becoming a regular customer, you can request discounts and freebies.

Try and combine services. For example, if your vehicle is in need of a service such as an oil and filter change and a brake check, this is the ideal time for a tire rotation. If you are a regular customer, the odds are pretty good that you will get the tire rotated free. They may also throw in a complimentary wheel balance.

Always ask. If you are a valued customer, you stand a good chance of getting a freebie and saving money.

Another good way to save money on tires is to recommend the repair shop to friends and family. Tell them to say you recommended the shop to them and the odds are good that you can be provided a freebie.

As mentioned, chain stores regularly offer coupons, either online or in fliers. These are a great way to reduce your vehicle service costs. Also, bookmarking this website and checking back often for reviews, tips and money-saving ideas is worth the effort.

And finally, if you are a handyman (diy) or a gearhead with a small floor jack and jack-stands, you can do your own tire rotation. Just make sure you have a torque wrench to tighten the lug nuts according to the owner’s manual specifications.

Meet Your Tire Expert
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About The Author

Michael Trigg

Michael Trigg

Michael grew up in New Zealand where in his teens, trained as a mechanic / welder / fitter. After leaving New Zealand Michael worked around Australia and in New Guinea, immigrating to Canada in 1969. He started his own automotive business in 1974 and sold it in 1999, but he continue to dabble in cars and the auto business.

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