Tires naturally wear and tear due to the fraction force that is applied by surfaces. However, uneven wearing is the enemy of decent tire life. It can be shown up in different forms. In this article, I will explain different tire wear patterns and the reasons that could be behind them. Let’s begin!
Tire Wear Patterns and What They Mean?
Irregular wear on the rubber can create various types of tire wear patterns. Most popular are inner&outer shoulder wear, center wear, shoulder edge wear, cupping, and heal&toe type uneven wearing. Uneven wearing can be caused by the internal structure of the tire or most probably is the signal of the need for mechanical fixing. For this reason, checking the uneven wearing often will give you an idea about the current situation of your vehicle.
Let’s see the different patterns and what they mean.
Inner and Outer Shoulder Wear
Shoulder Step Down
Inner Shoulder Wear
Outer Shoulder Wear
Inner and outer shoulder wear can be shown on single or both shoulders on your tire. A number of the deflected shoulders is the game-changer out here.
So, when you use an under-inflated tire, robust shoulders can’t step to the surface completely. As a consequence, tires’ shoulders wear unevenly. In that case, the location of uneven wearing is crucial. If it’s on the inner side of the shoulder, it might also be caused by the poor internal structure of your tire. Hence, you may contact the manufacturer and replace your tire with a new one.
If shoulder wear occurs on both sides;
That means your tires are under-inflated. Stiffness of tire compound changes from section to section. The Center section compound is always fluffier due to increasing grip capability. However, shoulder compounds should be robust, due to resisting wrenching force and keeping to tire in shape while wheeling.
On the other hand, if uneven wearing on the outer side of the shoulder or your shoulder rib step down completely, that mostly caused by under-inflated tire and there is no way that manufacturer will replace it.
If the shoulder wear occurs on one side;
That comes to mean your vehicle needs a wheel alignment. Vehicles are mechanical devices and they need calibration from time to time. Similar to periodical maintenance of your vehicle, your wheels need to be aligned. I recommend at least 2 times a year.
In that case, you should recheck your camber angles. Leaning outside is negative, leaning inside is positive camber. Both cause irregular wear. The above illustration will explain it properly.
If your tire rapidly wearing from the center, you may use your tires overinflated. Fluffy center compound flexes a bit outwardly than tough shoulder compound and that causes uneven wearing on the center. That one is also considered as a customers’ mistake and you can’t replace your tire with a new one. If you face this tire wear pattern, I recommend you replace your tire immediately.
Cupping Tire Wear Patterns
Tire cupping is the uneven wear that looks like some part of your treads wear anomalously wear more or less than other parts of your tire. Cupped tires aren’t always dangerous. In that case, the design of your tire is the game-changer. If it’s shown on a rib-type pattern, it might be a sign of a crucial problem. However, that uneven wear appears on almost every lug-type pattern at the beginning of its tread life.
Cupping could be caused by;
- Misaligned Tires – In that case, your tires should be misaligned too much that already pass over the shoulder edge wear stage. These tires should replace immediately.
- Worn Suspension and Shocks – If these systems aren’t working properly on the left or right tire of your vehicle, that tire bounce more than its design, and that causes cupping. In that case, you should change your suspensions and tire also.
- An unbalanced tire and bend wheels – This one is the most popular one. When your tire is unbalanced, it can’t step to the ground as designed. For this reason, some parts are affected by fraction force more than others. Hence, your tire wears unevenly. On the other hand, bending wheels are also work in the same way. These tires can’t resist centrifugal force properly and mostly wear more from the bend wheel side.
Symptoms of cupped tires;
- Tire Noise – When some locations wear way much more than others, the worn location creates a gap and that gap also creates height difference. Thus, you hear rhythmic noise every time an unworn part hits the ground.
- Vibration or shaking – This symptom generally starts out from certain speed ranges(for instance, between 40-60mph). You feel unusual vibration or shaking especially from the driver’s seat. In that case, you may save your tires with rotations. If this vibration and shaking become consistent, it’s too late to save your tire. For this reason, you should take quick action.
- Vehicle Pulling on one side – That’s also a sign of misalignment. When you don’t guide the steering wheel, due to its design, it goes back to 0 point which means your vehicle move on the straight line. If it pulls to the left or right that means your vehicle is misaligned. If you ignore this sign, a pulling level will increase over time and that means your tire is also in the business. Hence, you can try it from time to time and prevent cupping.
If your tire is lug-type;
That type of uneven wear is called heel and toe. That’s completely natural at beginning of the tread life. So, if you pay attention to rotation, the sound and vibration that is caused by the heel and toe will disappear over time.
Note: Your vehicle needs to be aligned at least 2 times a year. If you feel pulling from one side, I recommend you to bring a mechanical appointment forward.
I recommend you to check Goodyear’s guide if you need a piece of further information about cupping!
Cut and Chipping
That kind of uneven wear is mostly shown on off or on/off-road tires. The tire rubber started to rupture little by little and that’s chipping. If the pieces are bigger, that’s cutting.
That issue might be caused by poor rubber or wrong application selection. If it appears on all of the tires, that’s probably because of poor rubber and you can blame the manufacturer. However, if it’s shown in some certain places only, you might overload your tire or use your tire of its application range.
You might wanna check this article out for detailed information.
What Causes Uneven Tire Wear?
Uneven tire wear could be the manufacturer’s or your fault. If you have already checked the below points and there is no problem, I recommend you to claim that tire to the manufacturer.
- Check your vehicle’s toe angels
- Check your vehicle’s camber angles
- Be sure that your suspensions and shocks work properly
- Be sure that your wheel is in shape
- Re-evaluate your application range and check if your tire fits
- Check the inflation pressure more often
Note: If your vehicle is tuned, manufacturers won’t replace your tire even though you don’t see any significant problem regarding the above points.
Can Uneven Tire Wear Cause Vibration?
Yes, uneven wearing causes vibration. Yet, most probably, your tires are out of balance. Unbalanced tires cause vibration and also uneven wearing. So, you should define uneven wearing type before and check if it is caused by unbalanced tire.
Can Uneven Tire Wear Indicate Problems with the Suspansion System?
If your tire is cupped, the answer might be yes. However, before making a decision, you should be sure that your axles are aligned, your tires are balanced and your wheel is in good shape.
Uneven tire wear is common. Yet, it’s preventable. If you will follow the rules in this article, I’m pretty sure that you won’t face uneven wearing unless it’s the manufacturer’s fault.
If you have any further questions, you can leave them in the below section.
Note: If you will share your tire photos, I may help you with your issue and how to fix that!