My MINI OBSESSION
A Personal Site by Richard Lin aka OctaneGuy | Friday, June 23, 2006
Technical Articles
TIRE ROTATION  

Thinking of rotating your tires but wondering whether you should or shouldn't? Well the answer depends on who you believe and what your bank account is like. Ask MINIUSA and they will say, "We don't recommend rotating your tires". By not rotating, your front tires will wear bald before your rears so that when it comes to tire replacement, you need to buy 2 at a time. My fronts were bald by 19,000 miles, but my rears had about 75% life left. Runflats are cool technology, but I wanted to see if Yokohama AVS-ES100's would improve my stiff ride. I got the Sport Suspension on my MC, and it's a pretty firm ride. So with my new tires installed, I figured I would rotate them every 3,000 miles to see if I could increase their lifespan. Yoko's are pretty soft, so I've been told I might get anywhere from 10,000 to 25,000 miles on them, depending on how hard I drive them. I'm hoping to get 25K or better. Just a tip, should you do what I did and go with new tires, I would recommend keeping the 2 good runflats in case you want to use them in the future. It might even save you a disposal fee from the tire installer.

This article documents how I rotated my tires on my 2003 MINI Cooper which includes a compact spare and changing kit. The MCS doesn't have a spare so it won't apply exactly in that case! Since the OEM runflats and my Yokohama's are directional, you can only rotate the tires from front to back on the same side. So what you see here is me lifting up one side of the car, removing each wheel, and swapping them. No balancing is needed, since you are not removing the tires off the wheels. Also be careful about rotating the tires after you've driven excessive miles. That is, if you've driven 15,000 without rotating, and then decide to do so, it MIGHT be too late. You should consult a professional just in case.



With the wheels off, use this opportunity to give them a thorough cleaning!!

A sponge and soapy water does wonders!

Use a soft bristle brush to clean the hub cap cover.



I had read a lot about the fact the MINI uses wheel bolts instead of studs, and this worried me! Turns out that it's very easy to mount the wheels with the wheel bolts. The wheels are light enough that you can just lift them up into place and secure a bolt. There are tools to help you align the bolts, but they aren't needed. You can see that I've got one whole side jacked up. I used a 2 ton hydraulic jack I bought from Pep Boys as part of a kit that includes jack stands, wheel chocks, and even a creeper for about $50. While the jackstand is visible here, it wasn't used. The car was supported by the 2 ton jack and the spare tire jack. I placed the jack stand just in case the spare jack came loose.

Here is a picture of my Torque wrench. You need this to ensure you tighten the lug bolts to the proper 85 pounds (please double check this with the owners manual). You just set the desired force on the handle, and crank it ight until it clicks. Pretty simple. If I remember correctly the wrench was about $30 from Autozone.

Wonder how small the compact spare is? Here it is side by side my installed Yoko's!

This is just showing how you drop the spare from beneath the car. You also use this tool to lift the tire back up into the car. Oh what a chore it was to put back. I struggled for atleast 30 minutes until I realized that not only do you have to lift it up, but you need to slide the wheel back. More easily done with 2 persons. I did it myself, with lots of cussing! I used my knees to slide the wheel forwards once I had it up in the air.

This is what the spare looks like with the extension tube in place. My tube had a leak which caused all of the air in the spare to deflate! If you've got an MC, regularly check the tire pressure and maybe even disconnect this extension tube. Its there to allow you to check tire pressure without having to remove the tire, but if it's causing the air to escape, your spare is useless when you need it!

I applied some soapy water and you can see the air escaping here--the bubble forming.

If you've a CD changer installed, and the rear rubber mat, make sure to cut the mat around the changer, otherwise gaining access to the spare will be next to impossible without removing the changer! You might even cut/fold the thick foam cover that lies between the mat and the wheel. I just forcefully bent mine until I could remove the lid.

That's it!!! Rotating your tires isn't difficult, but it does take some effort. The first time took me about 30 minutes, but a lot of time was spent trying to loosen the lug bolts that the last tire installer hand cranked on way too tight--thanks to the those awful air powered tools. Remember that once you've torqued the lugs, drive around for or 10 minutes, then retorque the lugs to ensure they are truly seated.

Here is a list of the tools I used:

17mm Socket
Torque Wrench bought from Autozone/Pep Boys
2 ton Hydraulic Jack Pep Boys
Spare Tire tools from MC

Here is a great article on changing your spare tire!

Another relevant thread on Tire Rotations on NorthAmericanMotoring.com

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