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There are so many different scenarios that can cause the tires on your vehicle to wear unevenly or prematurely. Figuring out what is causing uneven or premature wear is extremely difficult when you do not know what to look for.
Our Treadwear Patterns Guide will help you identify what is happening with your tires as well as provide both causes of wear and solutions. Keeping your tires properly inflated and regularly rotated can help reduce your chance of uneven or premature wear.
Center wear is exactly what it sounds like: the tire is worn down in the center. There will be tread on the sides of the tire and a smooth, narrow strip of wear around the center of it. This is mostly caused by tires that are overinflated. When a tire is overinflated, the tire, in essence, bulges out more in the center. The tire then rides mostly on that bulge and that bulge wears faster than the sides of the tire. Keeping your tires properly inflated can help you to avoid center wear. If you aren’t sure what the proper tire pressure is for you, consult your vehicle’s owner’s manual or look inside the driver’s doorjamb of the car where it should be listed.
This is the exact opposite of center wear. Instead of a smooth, worn strip down the center of the tire, the sides, also known as the shoulders, of the tire will be worn. So the tire will have a smooth, narrow strip of wear on one shoulder, a strip of normal-looking tread around the center, then another smooth, narrow strip of wear on the other shoulder. Under-inflation is shoulder wear’s most common culprit. When you drive on an underinflated tire, more of the tire contacts the road, and this causes the shoulders of the tire to wear prematurely. Similar to center wear, you can steer clear of shoulder wear by making sure that your tires are properly inflated. Helpful tip: your tires can lose 1 to 2 lbs. of air pressure for every 10° the temperature drops outside so when it gets cold, check your tire pressure to make sure your tires are properly inflated.
“Camber” refers to how a tire tilts. If a tire has negative camber, it means that the top of the tire is tilted towards the vehicle. If a tire has positive camber, it means that the top of the tire is tilted away from the vehicle. Tires on a everyday car (i.e. a vehicle not used for racing) should have little to no camber at all; when you look at the tires from the front or back of the vehicle, they should be perfectly vertical. Camber wear occurs when a tire has positive or negative camber. With positive camber, the outer shoulder of the tire will be a smooth, narrow strip of wear while the rest of the tire will look fine. With negative camber, the inner shoulder of the tire will have that smooth, narrow strip of wear. Camber wear can be caused by improper tire pressure, misaligned wheels, or worn suspension components. If you spot camber wear and the tires are properly inflated, having your vehicle looked at by a professional is recommended.
Feathering refers to when the tread blocks of a tire have rounded edges on one side and sharp edges on the other. While this can be spotted visually, it is usually easier to feel feathering when you run your hand along the tire tread. Feathering can be caused by misaligned wheels but is often caused by high-speed cornering. When a vehicle rounds a corner at high speeds, the road essentially rubs against the tire aggressively, resulting in feathered wear. Obviously this can be avoided by slowing down and taking the corner slowly but you can also invest in performance tires that have stiffer side walls, which hold up better to aggressive driving.
There are coil springs in between the frame and wheels of your vehicle. When you drive over a bump, the car bounces on the springs . Shocks and/or struts keep the vehicle from bouncing continually, keeping the tires connected with the road. When the shocks and/or struts are worn out, the car continues to bounce, causing the tires to momentarily leave the road surface. Besides being really unsafe, this bouncing can cause pieces of rubber to be gouged out of the tires, which is referred to as cupping or scalloping. Cupped tires will often have random smooth patches all over them. These smooth patches are holes left by the missing rubber that have been smoothed over by driving on them. Unbalanced tires or wheels can also cause cupping.
This type of wear is also known as brake skid wear because if you brake hard in an emergency situation and skid, the parts of the tires that are contacting the road at that moment are rubbed away by the excessive friction. In this case, the tire will have normal tread around most of its circumference (that is, if it doesn’t have any other kinds of wear) and then a sudden smooth spot where the tread has been scuffed away. Flat spot wear is often caused when brakes lock up so if you find that your tires have this type of wear, you might want to consider getting your brakes looked at to make sure they’re working properly.
The amount of “toe” a vehicle has refers to the angles at which the tires are aligned. If a vehicle’s tires are “toe-in” (also known as positive toe), the front of each tire is angled inward. If a vehicle’s tires are “toe-out” (also known as negative toe), the front of each tire is angled outward. It is actually normal for a vehicle’s tires to have a tiny amount of toe. The amount of toe can increase due to wheels being out of alignment, and that is when it can cause your tires to wear prematurely. A tire with toe wear will typically be worn on the inside shoulder of the tire. That is, it will have a smooth strip of wear around it on the side that is facing the wheel well. Having your alignment checked and adjusted regularly can help you to avoid toe wear.