There are many different causes of tire wear. There are also many different types of tire tread wear. The style and condition of the tires on your vehicle are one of the biggest safety items to consider. It is important to have your trusted mechanic rotate your tires regularly (we recommend every 5k miles). During the rotation, it is important to set to proper inflation, measure tread depth, and check for any signs of damage or abnormal wear.
What is abnormal tire wear?
Edgewear is the most common wear we see. The front tires on your vehicle will typically wear on the edges much faster than the rear. The biggest reasons are the front tires have more weight on them due to the engine and transmission being in the front of the vehicle and the front tires are the steering tires. There is a lot more road friction when your tires are turned than when you are driving in a straight line. This is why it is so important to have your tires rotated on a regular basis. If tires are rotated front to back on your vehicle every 5k miles, you shouldn’t be able to see signs of two of the tires wearing edges faster than the other two.
The next most common reason we see excessive edge tire wear is due to the alignment being out of specification. It is important to have your mechanic check all your steering and suspension components regularly to ensure there is no excessive play or tire wear that will cause your alignment to be out of specification. Once steering and suspension parts are inspected and repaired as needed, it is important to have your alignment set to manufactures recommended specifications to ensure the car drives properly and minimizes tire wear. Keep in mind that a proper alignment needs to be performed regularly even if no steering or suspension parts have been replaced. Regular tire wear and tear, potholes, and uneven roads can cause your alignment to come out of specification also. The last most common reason for abnormal edge wear is underinflation. Your tires utilize the sidewalls and the air pressure inside of your tires to support the weight of your vehicle. If your tire is underinflated, it puts added pressure on the sidewalls of your tires where the tread comes to the edges. Once again a good reminder to have your mechanic check your tire pressures when rotating your tires regularly.
Cupping wear is another common tread wear we see. Cupping wear is harder to see than edge wear. Once a tire gets enough cupping wear, it can cause road noise and even vibrations. With the vehicle on the ground, it is very difficult to notice cupping wear. We typically find this style wear once we have your vehicle raised up to eye level on the hoist. Cupping or feathering wear is when you have uneven wear across a particular section of the tread. Tire cupping is usually caused by a worn suspension component. Once a suspension component wears out, it no longer keeps your tires firmly planted on the road. When driving over imperfections in the road, the worn suspension component will allow excess up and down movement instead of steady pressure on your tire. This is what causes the tread blocks to feather and wear. The most common suspension component to wear and cause tire wear cupping is your struts and shocks. These are tough components to know if they are worn because they wear out slowly over time and many miles. The struts and shocks on most vehicles fail between 75k and 125k miles.
Center wear is another common tire wear we see. If we notice that the center portion of the tire is worn out more than the edges, the first thing we check is the tire pressure. Center wear is almost always contributed to overinflation. The excess amount of air pressure when above specification can cause the center of your tire to be raised slightly higher than the edges. Over time and miles of driving, this will cause the center of your tire to wear faster due to the weight of the vehicle being concentrated to the center of the tread.
Here are my recommendations to get the best out of your tires:
- Rotate front to back regularly (every 5k miles)
- Keep tires properly inflated to manufacturer specifications
- Regularly check steering and suspension parts for wear or play (every 5k miles)
- Have vehicle alignment checked and adjusted regularly (once per year)
- Replace Struts and/or Shocks between 75k and 125k miles or at the first sign of tire cupping
- Utilize a tire professional to make sure you have the right tire for your vehicle. Tread composition, load range, speed rating, etc.