Understanding Tire Wear Patterns: Why Are My Tires Wearing Out So Fast?

In the fast-paced, busy environment that you are in, your vehicle’s tires are probably the last thing you think about. Unless you have to pull your car on the sidewalk over a blowout or flat tire, only then will you take time out of your busy schedule to attend to your tires. Eventually, you will need to replace it with a new tire which is such a bummer since it will cost you a substantial amount of money. If you are only attentive to the signs of wear, you’ll never have to deal with the unplanned expense and inconvenience.

HOW DO I SPOT TIRE WEAR PATTERNS? The life of your car’s tires is relative to the depth of the rubber covering the ring or more popularly known as the tread. Most of the signs of a deteriorating tread can often be detected by the eye as it will evident itself through the tear and wear.

The ability to determine premature wears will save spare you from frequenting tire dealers which in the end will save you tons of money. More importantly, it will save you from fatal road accidents. You can find some of the common tire wear conditions below.

FEATHERED TIRES (Outer Edge, Center and Inner Edge Tread Wear)

Tire feathering or scuffing may present itself either on the inside or outside edge of the tread. Often caused by a sort of alignment settings such as excessive positive or negative toe and caster angle, the indicators of feathered tires are tread ribs that are worn lower or smoother on one side and sharper or higher on the other.

You can also find this wear pattern in between the edges. A drastic increase in acceleration can quickly wear the in the center of the tire, a common issue with high-powered cars.

Apart from the visible wear, you can tell a tire is feathered if you run your fingers on the tread blocks. If the surface feels like saw teeth, it’s likely that your wheels are suffering from feathering.

The Fix: Since the main cause of tire feathering is improper alignment, you will need to bring your car to the shop to be re-set by an auto-technician. Failure to do so will set further tire damage.

FLAT SPOTS

Also known as the contact patch, tire flat spots are the result of the car weighing and flattening that area of your car as it touches the ground, a scenario that commonly happens when your car is a park for an extended period of time especially in a cold area.  You can easily recognize the flat spot in the area where the symmetrical or directional tread pattern faded.

The Fix: Most of the time, you can simply drive away mild flat spots, possibly around 15 minutes of driving. The tires will get flexible as it gear.

Unfortunately, there are cases when the spots become permanent and may need immediate replacement or tire shaving, both of which are services offered in many dedicated shops. It is important to attend to flat spot because they are dangerous and can balance problems, tire wobbles and shimmy vibration that makes it difficult to steer the car.

CUPPED OR SCALLOPED DIPS

Similar to the flat spot, there is an uneven flat pattern in a tire cupping. The only difference is that tire scalloping appears in dips, usually in a smaller section of 3 to 4  diameters and prevalent all over the tread edge rather than in just one spot.

A rumbling noise when driving at top speeds can also be an indicator of cupping tires. At lower speeds, the glide may also be harsh due to this issue.

Driving over road debris or rough rocky road is what causes tire cupping as the wheels move and bounce irregularly,  resulting in those scalloped patterns. There is a likelihood of loose, worn and misaligned suspension parts with tire cupping.

The Fix: If the cupping isn’t very bad, you can even out the wear after you rotate the tires. Additionally, a technician can fix or change the suspension part or shock absorbers responsible for the treadwear pattern.  In the case of serious scalloping, you need to replace the entire tire, preferably with wider tires and rims as they have more contact pat area needed for the wheel stability.

EXPOSED STEEL CORDS

Another indication of a tire wearing out is the wires or cords in the inner liner popping. This kind of treadwear may be a result of under-inflation, a tire that is not in balance or is poorly aligned. Regardless of the cause, it is worth note taking that your tire will not perform adequately and is in danger of a blow out with those visible cords.

The Fix: Exposed tire cords are an indication that you need to replace your tire as the broken wire alone disqualifies the tire from further use.

CHUNKING OR PITTING PARTS

The appearance may seem as though some parts have been torn off in chunks or sliced in random areas. The damage is typically related to suspension problems. In particular, it is an indication of a poor shock absorber that hinders the tire to maintain contact with the road, making it bounce up and down that causes the impact of chunking.

Another cause is related to heat, specifically not warming up a tire before exposing it to great stress on the road course or autocross.

The Fix: Chunked tires are not a serious threat although they may significantly shorten the lifespan of your tire. For safety concerns, tire replacement is highly recommended. The more parts that are missing, the less grip the tire will have on the asphalt, which can result in unpredictable movement on the car under braking, inclement weather as well when cornering.

MANUFACTURING DEFECT PATTERNS

This damage is not because of wear but more of defects due to the manufacturing process.  Despite specifications, mistakes can be made during the construction process leading to faults built on the tire. The pattern often show itself through visible cuts on the sidewalls, splice or tire belt separation.

The Fix: Going on further with defective tires can put risk on your driving. Purchased tires come with warranty and can be returned in case of defects.

What are the primaty causes of a tire wear?

It is normal for the tread to gradually deteriorate and become shallow as it age or as the mileage increase.  But there are also a variety of reasons that cause it to wear prematurely.

UNDER-INFLATION

Tires that are incorrectly inflated causes the tread to wear out rapidly or unevenly.  It is important for the tires to have the optimal pressure to provide maximum traction, support vehicle’s weight and to perform proper other automobile handlings such as cornering, accelerating and braking.

Improper tire inflation is one of the leading reasons for poor steering control that results in the car spinning uncontrollably. It also has a profound effect on fuel consumption as a build-up on the rolling resistance means more requirement on the fuel energy to keep the wheels gearing.

What are the patterns of the under-inflated tire?

Without the right amount of air in your tires, you may feel an odd vibration on your steering wheel while driving. The reason being is the load is carried by the outside edges of the tread as the contact patch grows. Flatter tires also cause more friction on the road so you’ll also notice sidewall cracks and tire belt separation.

What can you do about it?

To ensure proper tire pressures, refer to the owner’s manual for inflation guidelines or find the manufacturer’s tire pressure specification of the placard near or along the driver’s door. Acquiring devices and instruments meant to monitor and give readings about the air pressure inside the tires, such as the Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)  and other certified tire pressure gauges, is also a sure way to keep your tires in their optimum pressure amount.

It is also necessary to follow the car’s capacity guidelines especially if you are driving SUVs or trucks, or vehicles that are used to hauling a lot of stuff. Exceeding the load capacity can cause the tire pressure to go down, build up excess heat and wreak catastrophes both to your tires and safety.

OUT-OF-SPEC TIRE ALIGNMENT

A tire or wheel alignment is related to the vehicle’s suspension, a system that connects it to the wheels. When the suspension is not at its manufacturer’s height modification, your car will most likely deal with the misalignment of the tires.

The occasional jarring or heavy impact caused by road obstacles such as potholes and bumping curbs also cause wear and tear in the suspension springs over time, leading to a shift on the alignment of the tires.

What are the patterns of a misaligned wheel?

The most obvious symptom here is a tire scrub or the car drifting to one side which for the most part is what causes the excessive wear on the wheels,  whereas a perfectly aligned car will stay straight. The misalignment is often accompanied by a squealing noise coming from the tires when driving. The performance of the steering wheel is also compromised. While making a turn, you will notice your steering wheel does not return easily and will possibly crook or vibrate.

What can you do about it?

Depending on the severity, your wheels may need a replacement or alignment. In order to perform the latter, you must take your car to the shop to perform necessary adjustments and bring back the tire’s proper configuration.

RECKLESS DRIVING HABITS

Occasional poor driving maneuvers such as stopping, taking off or taking on too quickly, driving at top speeds, driving haphazardly over road debris among many others, will introduce your tires to a lot of wear conditions, blowouts and costly repairs.

What are the patterns of wear due to poor driving habits?

If you do the aforementioned too often, it will kill your tires and manifest through the seams bulging. You may notice that your car is not unnecessary rumbling as you drive, vibrations on the steering wheel will be apparent, and you will feel the car pulling on left or right. Additionally, your car also loses traction in wet surfaces or that it takes you longer to brake, all signs of a worn-out tread.

What can you do about it?

The safe driving practices do not only ward-off accidents but also prolong the lifespan of your tires. So slow down, take turns more consciously, give your self ample of the distance needed to brake and steer clear of unfriendly road obstacles. This way you’re not only preserving the life of your tires but also your own life.

WHY SHOULD I BE WARY OF A TIRE WEAR?

Tires are more than just an essential component of your vehicles. These ring-shaped rubber components also play a significant role in the safety of your vehicle. More to the concern is unsafe driving conditions brought about by tires that are compromised. When the tires become shallow, the easier it is to lose contact and traction on the road surface. This can lead to the driver losing control of the vehicle.

You certainly need not wait for the mishap to happen as there are things you can do to maintain your tires. Such are regularly checking the tire depth and exhibiting patterns of tire wear. Hopefully, you have learned enough information from this post to set your wheels gearing. Have a safe driving!

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