Over the years, I’ve learned that my tire wear reveals a lot about my driving and car maintenance habits. Sometimes it’s the result of making a mistake and noticing an odd wear pattern after the fact. For example, once I backed my car down the driveway without noticing that one tire was flat. After fixing and inflating the tire back to full pressure, I noticed a faint gray ring on the tire sidewall. My car mechanic later told me that the ring indicates damaged rubber and that I should immediately replace the tire.
It turns out that your tire wear patterns reveal many things about your car’s condition, tire maintenance mistakes, and even driving mistakes. Of course, it’s best to stay on top of your car and tire maintenance, and eliminate bad driving habits rather than inferring these problems after the fact from your tire wear. However, it’s better to recognize a problem late than not at all, especially if it can cause an accident.
Stay safe and keep your average car insurance rates low by watching for and correcting the underlying causes of these six tire wear patterns:
The Center of Your Tire Tread Wears Faster Than the Edges
This means your tires are over inflated, which causes the center of the tread to bulge out and become worn. Over inflation wears your tread down faster and the frequent tire replacements will get expensive.
The Sidewall Has Cracks or Bulges
This indicates tire damage caused by striking a curb too hard, running over a big pothole at high-speed, or running over an object such as lumber or a brick on the highway. This is extremely serious and you should replace the tire immediately. A blowout can happen at any time.
The Outside Edges of Your Tread Wears Faster Than the Center
Your tires are under inflated. Driving on badly under inflated tires risks a blowout, especially in hot weather. You may also notice small micro cracking in the sidewall rubber.
One Side of Your Tire Tread Wears Faster Than the Rest of the Tire
This often means that your car needs an alignment. Other possible causes are problems with your springs or ball joints. All of these problems affect your car’s handling and your ability to make hard emergency maneuvers to avoid an accident.
Flat Wear at a Single Spot on Your Tire
Hard braking that induces skidding will wear down your tread where the tire is contacting the pavement during the skid. If you have a habit of doing this, you will see more than one flat wear spot.
Cupping Tread Wear
With cupping, you will see a diagonal tread wear pattern that occurs at regular intervals along your tire’s circumference. This means your suspension is worn or damaged. Another possible cause is a worn shock absorber. This problem means your tires can’t maintain constant contact with the road. This can cause loss of control.