Your car’s tires are vital when it comes to you enjoying a smooth and safe drive, stopping your vehicle quickly, or steering accurately for that matter. Hence, over time, it is normal for a tire to wear out and overall tire performance to get affected.
Checking the tires for tread depth and uneven tire wear regularly will not only help you know when it’s time to replace but also alert you to other maintenance issues.
Too little tread can result in unsafe conditions for driving. Understand that if the tires don’t get a proper grip on the road, you might lose control of the vehicle. In the case of precipitation (should the road be snowy or wet from the rains) getting between the road and the tires, you’d want the tread to maintain as much road contact as possible.
The shallower the tread, the easier it is to lose traction while driving in the rain or snow and there are many other car problems that occurs during the monsoon session. Remember that uneven tire wear — around the circumference or across the tread — indicates a problem that you’d want to fix without any delay.
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Feathering. Scalloping. Cupping.
Have you heard these terms before? Do you know what they refer to? A little confused? Let’s try and cut the clutter:
With this uneven tire wear pattern, the tire has thinner (or shallower) tread in the middle vis-à-vis the outside edges.
Centre wear is caused by over-inflation of the tire, which allows increased surface contact with the middle portion instead of the tire’s outside edges.
An edge wear pattern refers to a thinner tread along the tire’s outside edges as compared to its middle portion.
This irregular tire wear pattern is generally caused by an under-inflated tire that forces its edges to rub abrasively on the road, causing premature wearing out of the tread.
Sometimes referred to as ‘feathering’, toe wear refers to a lower tread rib on one side and higher on the other side. When looking at it from top-down, the tire wear looks like a ‘toe’ that’s pointing inward or outward.
This irregular tire wear pattern is generally a result of bad wheel alignment.
Not your everyday tire wear pattern, camber wear is essentially increased edge wear, either along the inner or outside edge. If you are standing in front of the car and looking at it, ‘camber’ denotes the tire’s angle vis-à-vis the ground.
Generally, camber tire wear is also the result of improper wheel alignment. However, car racers sometimes use negative camber, for it allows easier cornering.
Also called ‘scalloping’, cup wear can look like somebody scooped out the tread with an ice cream scoop, four-five inches around the tire’s circumference.
This tire wear pattern is usually a result of poor wheel alignment, cheap and unbalanced tires, and worn out suspension components like shock absorbers and bushings.
Flat spots refer to worn out sections of a tire. While these may not be visible at first, they can cause the driver to feel thumps and bumps while driving. If visible, you might notice only a single bald spot or many of them, usually present across several parts of the tire.
Unbalanced car tyres usually cause bald spots. However, they can also form should you abruptly apply the brakes and the tires skid.
That depends upon the extent of tire damage. For example, should you notice centre wear, you know that it results from excess air pressure in the tires. Fix it, and the issue should resolve by itself.
That being said, you should ideally have the tires checked by a trained technician.
Generally, improper wheel alignment is the reason why tires can wear out on the inside. The uneven tire wear pattern that’s caused by a questionable wheel alignment is known as camber wear.
There is nothing like the best tire tread pattern. That’s because different types of tread are suitable for specific driving styles and road conditions.
There are several reasons. But the most common ones include over inflation/under inflation, lack of rotation, irregular wheel alignment, unbalanced tires, and worn out shock absorbers and other suspension parts.
To comply with safety standards, your vehicle’s tire tread should be a minimum 1.6mm deep. Should the tread be less than 1.6mm, you must replace the tires.