Tire Wear and Tear Patterns Can Tell You A Lot About Your Car


Tires are often the part that receives the least attention from the owner. They are always in contact with the ground, so why should the driver pay attention to it? They get dirty and eventually get worn down, ready to be replaced.

However, they are also the part of the car where a problem appears. Any damage in the tires can lead to serious issues later on that can compromise the safety of the vehicle and anyone inside. Tires are also costly to repair and replace before they experienced their normal end of life.

Tires need to be taken care of, too. They require regular visits to tire rotation services to stave off wear and tear for as long as possible. Moreover, you need to avoid behaviors that can damage tires.

Only the Center Is Worn Down

The tires of your car should be worn down uniformly. Otherwise, you will need to replace it more often. Moreover, if the wear and tear are only apparent in one area, you might be doing something wrong.

For example, if the center ring has lost its original texture, you likely are overinflating your tires. The center ring turning smooth while the rest looked normal meant that only that part was hitting the road. Whenever you drive your car, only that small portion has contact with the asphalt, losing traction.

Some people over-inflate their tires to reduce rolling resistance which they believe increases fuel economy. While there is truth to the claim, the savings will be minimal. Popular Mechanics actually tested it in 2009 with a Honda Fit. On a drive from Los Angeles to Phoenix, they recorded fuel consumption of 42.19 miles per gallon (5.575 liters per 100 kilometers). On the drive back, they overinflated the tires and recorded 42.14 miles per gallon (5.581 liters per 100 kilometers) of fuel consumption.

In the end, car owners will have to shell out more to replace worn-down tires. Follow the pressure recommended by the manufacturer.

Only the Outer Edges Are Worn Down

The same thing happens when the tires are underinflated. The wear and tear happen inconsistently. Usually, when tires are underinflated, only the outer edges are worn down because those parts come in contact with the road. The middle, on the other hand, looks pristine.

Underinflated tires are dangerous. The tires will flex more, building heat that could cause a blowout later on. The Ford scandal in the early aughts was due to the recommendation from the automotive company to underinflate tires. It led to millions of Firestone and Wilderness tires being recalled.

A Single Spot Is Worn Down


There are two likely explanations when there is only one single spot on the tire that looks more worn down than the rest. If the car had to skid to avoid an obstacle, for example, the flat spots appeared because of the incident.  Vehicles that do not have an anti-lock braking system will lock their own tires during sudden and heavy braking. That will cause a flat spot.

The car parked for extended periods is also likely to get flat spots on the areas in contact with the road. However, if parking was the cause, there should not be wear and tear anywhere else.

Feathering Treads

Feathering is not as easily visible, but it is there. You can tell that the tire is through touch: by stroking your fingers on the edge of each tread bar or block, you will feel the feathered spots.

Feathering is caused by excessive positive or negative toe angle. Feathered edge on the inner part of the tread bar means excess toe-in. A feathered edge on the outer part means excess toe out.

If there is nothing wrong with the alignment, the problem is damaged suspension bushing. It is causing shifts to the alignment while you drive, which leads to feathering. Check also for worn-out ball joints and wheel bearings to diagnose issues with the suspension bushing.

Scallop-shaped Spots

If the surface of the tires has alternating hills and valleys, better bring it to the mechanic fast. This is caused by the impact of the tire bouncing up and down as it travels. The problem could be bad shock absorbers or wheels that are out of balance.

Drivers should pay attention to their car tires because they usually reveal symptoms of problems that may appear later on. These then can cause further issues that will impede your vehicle’s performance. By knowing the different patterns of wear and tear, car owners can prevent damages that will need expensive repairs or replacements.


About the Author

James Wheeler

Meet James Wheeler, a self-proclaimed motorhead and automotive aficionado. With a lifelong love for cars and bikes, James has immersed himself in the world of all things automotive. From tinkering with engines to exploring the latest tech advancements, he's got a passion for every gear and bolt. When he's not behind the wheel, James can be found penning engaging articles, sharing his insights, and uncovering the hottest trends in the automotive industry. Get ready to rev your engines and join James on a thrilling ride through the fascinating world of cars, bikes, and everything that makes your heart race.
Scroll to Top