A car that recently had its tires rotated.

This common maintenance task—which should typically be done every 5,000 to 8,000 miles—isn't one you should ignore. It may seem minor, but remember: Tires are the only thing that comes between your 2-ton vehicle and the road. Well-maintained tires will help you travel safely for tens of thousands of miles.

More on Tires

Without rotation, tires may not wear evenly. Front tires play a larger role in braking, and on front-wheel-drive vehicles they must claw for traction, which means they wear out more quickly. Plus, minute variations in suspension and alignment can introduce uneven wear patterns. All of this can have an impact on your car’s ride and noise level, as well as the tire's longevity.

"Spreading wear around all four tires ensures even tread depth and grip," says Chris Jones, a certified mechanic and tire technician for CR. "A visit to the mechanic is also an opportunity for a pro to inspect your tires for damage and proper inflation."

Your owner's manual will have guidance on the rotation pattern (some are front-to-rear, others side-to-side) and frequency. Tire rotation can cost up to $60, but shop around: Some retailers may provide the service free of charge.

For information about the latest tires in our ratings, check out the best car tires of 2019.

Editor's Note: This article also appeared in the October 2019 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.