On our way home from the airport last week, we noticed that our Honda Odyssey was “shimmying” way too much at highway speeds. We’ve also noticed a good bit more road noise than we recalled having in the past. We actually first noticed the problem on our way to the airport, but were hoping that it was just the roads that we were driving. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.
Upon returning home, we took a closer look at the front tires. There were much more heavily worn than the rear tires. The next day, our local tire shop confirmed our suspicions… The front tires were shot. No big deal, right? Tires wear out all the time. Ah, but in this case, the tires didn’t actually have that many miles on them relative to their rated life span. On top of that, the rear tires looked almost new.
The problem? We hadn’t rotated our tires.
As it turns out, your front tires experience a good bit more wear and tear than your back tires, especially on front-wheel drive cars. They carry more weight, they’re responsible for putting the engine power to the road, they do a disproportionate amount of braking, and they do all of the steering.
Also, depending on your driving habits, the left and right tires each face their own unique burdens. For example, highway driving often means a lot of cloverleafs, which result in high speed right-hand turns. In contrast, on surface street, left hand turns are typically taken at higher speeds, but right turns are tighter.
The end result of all of this is uneven tire wear. The goal of rotating your tires is to ensure that the entire set wears at the same rate, resulting in an overall safer set of tires that don’t have to replace tires out of sync. Ultimately, you should be rotating your tires in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications even if they don’t show signs of uneven wear. But we didn’t.
The end result
In our case, we burned up a pair of tires and didn’t have a leg to stand on warranty-wise since we hadn’t rotated them. While we could’ve just replaced the two worn tires, we weren’t particularly happy with these tires in the first place. For one thing, they appeared to have worn faster than they should have, even after accounting for the lack of rotation. In addition, while they had gotten much louder as they wore out, they weren’t exactly quiet in the first place.
We ended up talking to the tire shop about this and they agreed to buy back the two rear tires (at a reduced price) so we could replace them with a full set of matching (and better) tires. In case you’re curious, the old tires were Goodyear Integrity, whereas the new tires are Goodyear Assurance ComforTred. We’ve only had them a week, but we’re already much happier with them. They’re much quieter and also seem to give a better ride (though the latter point is a bit subjective).
Staying the course
Now… We just need to commit to regular rotations. It really shouldn’t be that big of a deal, as the tires come with free rotations. As long as we make a point of getting our oil changed at the tire shop, we can just have the tires rotated when the Odyssey is in for its regular service.
To assist with this, we’re stealing a page from MightyBargainHunter’s book, who recommends using one of your trip odometers (most cars nowadays have two) to keep track of mileage between service visits.