If you are looking to find out what the tire wear on your vehicle signifies, we have broken down all the different types of tire wear and what they mean.
Is it important to have your vehicle serviced each year to catch any issues before they become serious. Catching a specific tire wear pattern early will allow you to rectify the cause as well as rotate your tires which will prolong their life and save you money.
Knowing what all these different tire wear patterns mean for your vehicle will allow you to rectify the issue before they become a bigger problem and require you to purchase new tires unnecessarily. Read on to learn more.
What are the different Tire Wear Patterns?
Tires are one of the most important aspects of your vehicle as they are the only part of the vehicle that is in contact with the road. Therefore it is paramount to ensure the good condition of your tires and to be able to spot if they are wearing unevenly. We have broken down each type of tire wear below.
Even Tire Wear
The tire wear patterns you hope to see on your tires are a completely even tire wear all around your tire. This means that the tire has been inflated correctly and that there are no issues with your vehicles wheel alignment or with your vehicles suspension.
If you have also been rotating your tires then you can be happy knowing that you have gotten the maximum mileage out of your tires (assuming that your driving style hasn’t worn away your tires prematurely!)
Once a tire reaches 1.2mm in tread depth and the tread markers are reached, it is time to replace your tires. Make sure to check our offers for the best prices on tire, only available for our readers.
Center wear of your tires occurs when tires are over inflated. This causes them to ride along the center of your tires and wear down at a faster rate than the rest of your tire. Always make sure that your tires are inflated to the recommended pressures in your vehicle handbook.
Depending on how badly worn the center of the tires are, it may be necessary to replace them. You can test this by checking the tread depth with the penny test. If you can see the whole of Lincoln’s head, you will need a new tire as the tread is not deep enough.
Inner and Outer Edge Tread Wear
If your tires are under inflated, this will cause more wear to both the inner and outer edges of your tires as they will be making more contact with the road. This is not to be confused with other tire wear patterns where only either one of the inner or the outer edge of the tire wears away faster.
Always ensure that your tires are inflated to the correct pressures as recommended in your vehicle handbook. Under inflated tires are a common issue in the winter as the air contracts inside the tire and lowers the tire pressure.
Newer vehicles are often fitted with tire pressure monitoring systems which will alert the driver when tire pressures drop too low.
Outer-Edge Tread Wear
If the outer edge of your tires are wearing away faster than the rest of the tire, the most likely cause is the wheel alignment being out of specification. Wheel alignments should be done every 2-3 years when servicing your vehicle or after having new wheels or tires installed.
Another common reason we see for an outer edge tread wear pattern is due to drivers consistently taking corners too fast. This causes the outer edges of the tires to scrub harder on the road and wear down faster as a result.
Inner-Edge Tread Wear
Inner edge tread wear is the most common type of tread wear issue seen by shops. This is another culprit of poor wheel alignment. The angles that cause this type of tire wear patterns are typically negative toe and camber.
If a wheel alignment does not solve the issue, then the suspension components of your vehicle will be to blame. This will be more likely an issue on older vehicles, vehicles with higher mileage or vehicles driven in harsher terrains.
Tire feathering is a tire wear pattern when the treads on a tire are rounded or lower on one side and higher with shaper edges on the other. This occurs because the tire is worn down at an angle and is an indicator of a misaligned toe angle. Vehicles are very sensitive to even minor changes in toe angle and a good alignment will rectify the issue.
If caught early, the tire may still be usable if there is enough tread depth on it. If in doubt, take it to your local shop and they will advise whether it is safe to drive on. Severe tire feathering may require you to replace with a new tire.
The signs of scalloped or cupping on your tires is the indication of a more serious issue with bent or worn suspension parts. While the reason can be due to poor wheel alignment and wheel balancing, it is unlikely as this would usually result in a more even distribution to the tread wear.
Patchy Wear or Diagonal Wear Pattern
Patchy wear or diagonal wear patterns to your tires are the symptom of unbalanced wheels. When you have new wheels and tires added to your vehicle, the shop will balance your wheels with counterweights to ensure your tires ride smoothly and wear evenly.
You may also want to rotate your tires. This will extend their life by ensuring that they all wear down evenly.
What are the signs of uneven tire wear?
As the average motorist infrequently does a visual inspection of their tires, it is useful to know what other signs to look out for. This way you are able to catch tire wear before it becomes serious and requires you to replace the tire.
Examining the Tread
The easiest way to spot if your tires are worn or are suffering from any abnormal tire wear, is to examine them. This may sound easy but there are many reasons why this is not as easy as it sounds.
It is difficult to get a good view of the entire tire without having the vehicle on a ramp or without removing the wheel. For this reason, a quick stop at your local tire shop will be the easiest way to figure out if there are any issues. They will usually be happy to fit you in at no charge and you can be done in as little as 10 minutes.
If while examining your tread you notice any large bubbles or blisters on your tire, this is a sign of a serious failure within the tire. These bubbles could grow over time and may cause a tire blowout. This requires immediate attention and we would strongly advise you to change your tire as soon as possible.
Check out our full guide on “tire bubbles” here.
If you notice that your vehicle starts to return a lower MPG than usual, this may be an indication of extra resistance from poor tire wear. This will show as you will find yourself needing to fill up more frequently and spending more on gas. When tires wear unevenly, this increases the rolling resistance they experience thereby increasing fuel consumption.
Rough Driving Experience
One of the first signs that something is not right with your tires will be felt while driving. This will be easier to distinguish if you have owned your vehicle for an extended period of time. A common sign of an issue will be vibration through the steering wheel, especially when driving at higher speeds.
Also be sure to listen out for any unusual or funny noises from underneath your vehicle. Either of these signs is an indication that there may be an issue with your tires. We would recommend having it checked out with your local shop.
Can tire wear patterns be repaired?
Depending on how your tire has worn and how far it has worn in any particular way will determine if it is able to be fixed. The main way to fix the issue will be to rotate your tires or potentially even tru your tires.
You may also be able to extend the life of your tires by retreading them. However not all tires will be suitable for this.
What it the minimum tread depth on a tire?
The tread depth on your tires needs to be at least 1.2 mm. However once your tires are at this point or close to this point, your tires will need to be replaced.
Is it ok to drive on tires that aren’t evenly worn?
If you notice that your tires are not wearing evenly as they should, we would recommend taking your vehicle to a shop for an inspection. We would not recommend driving on tires that have worn unevenly as it is an indication of an issue with your vehicle.
If you must drive your vehicle, avoid driving in wet conditions and drive cautiously. Avoid harsh acceleration, braking or steering until you are able to have a mechanic inspect your tires.
Find Out More Below
Knowing the telltale signs for bad tire wear patterns and what they mean will help you figure out what may be wrong with your vehicle. Routinely checking your tires for unusual tire wear patterns will ensure that your vehicle is safe for many miles to come.
Spotting an issue early will save money by rectifying it before it requires you to purchase a new tire. If you are ever in doubt, we always recommend talking to your local tire shop.