What It Means to Have Uneven Tire Wear
The tread on your tires should wear down evenly if your car is correctly aligned, and you drive with the proper PSI for your make and model.
When you experience uneven tire wear, then the unevenness is due to a specific cause. Spotting this issue early can help you to correct a potentially costly problem.
It could also save your life. Uneven tire wear can lead to blowouts that may happen while operating your vehicle at high speeds.
Common Causes of Uneven Tire Wear
Spotting uneven tire wear is easy when you know what to look at on the tread. Here are the common patterns that most drivers see
- Excessive wear on the inner or outer portion of the tire.
If your tire starts to look slanted because the inner or outer edge is wearing down faster, then this is usually a toe wear issue. Extreme cases could also be camber wear. This issue suggests an alignment problem, which means a visit to your favorite mechanic is often necessary to correct the issue.
- The center of the tire is wearing down faster.
If you see that the center of your tire is losing its tread faster than the sides, then this typically means that you are chronically overinflating it. You’ll want to look for the correct pressure for your vehicle by looking at the sticker found on the driver-side doorjamb. It will also be listed in your owner’s manual.
- Both edges are wearing down faster than the middle.
If you see both edges (not just one) wearing down faster than the center tread, then this issue usually means the tire is underinflated. You can correct this problem by adding air so that you reach the recommended pressure levels published by the manufacturer.
- The tire has staggered, diagonal lines of wear.
When you have diagonal wear lines that cut across most or all of the tire, then this issue is called “cupping.” It suggests that there is a problem with your car’s suspension. It could be bent, worn, or compromised in some other way. You should visit a mechanic immediately if you suspect that this pattern is what you see on your tires.
- There are random patches of wear on the tire.
If you see patches of wear with your tread that don’t seem to have any pattern to them, then this issue indicates that your tires aren’t correctly balanced. Having your mechanic rotate and spit them can help to equalize this issue. Most vehicles need to have this service performed every 5,000 miles or so unless the owner’s manual says otherwise.
Understanding why your tire tread wears out like it does can help you to spot big problems before they cause a bigger headache. If you have any questions about what you see on your wheels, then speak with a trusted mechanic to discuss what might be happening.