Abnormal or uneven tyre wear is usually the result of a number of issues which may compromise the handling of your vehicle, as well as the life and performance of the tyres, and ultimately safety. The tyres are the only part of the car to come into contact with the road when driving and play a significant role in the handling and performance of the car. Corrective action to remedy uneven tyre wear should be taken as soon as possible in order to avoid more serious problems.
Common Causes of Uneven Tyre Wear
- Alignment and suspension
- Tyre balance
- Over or under inflated tyres
- Mechanical parts
- Aggressive breaking
Alignment and Suspension
One of the most common causes of uneven tyre wear is poor wheel alignment – this refers to steering and suspension components, a system which connects and controls the motion of the wheels. If the wheels are not properly aligned, the tyres will wear differently as more pressure will be put on one spot of the tyre rather than distributed evenly across, affecting the car’s performance, it is also less economical. Alignment can easily be knocked out of place, hitting a pothole or a protruding manhole cover at speed may be all it takes.
Asymmetries of mass can cause a wheel to wobble as it rotates on the moving vehicle, this can lead to uneven tyre wear and disturbances to the drive such as vibrations to the steering wheel at specific speeds. Tyre balance is tested in repair garages using static balancers or dynamic balancers, correction weights in the form of an adhesive backing are stuck onto the wheels, to balance the tyres and remedy any driving disturbances.
Driving on Over or Under Inflated Tyres
Tyre inflation should follow the vehicle manufacturer’s specified inflation pressure; under-inflation can cause tyres to wear on both outside shoulders due to the tyres coming into contact with the road more than they should – this reduces fuel economy, tyre life, steering response and directional stability.
Over-inflation can cause the tyres to bulge in the middle and make more contact with the road, reducing braking and traction and increasing the risk of blowouts.
Loose wheel bearings or worn suspension and steering components such as bushes, ball joints and link rods can contribute to uneven tyre wear and other issues.
Full braking with locked wheels can cause flat spots.
Common Patterns of Abnormal Tyre Wear
When the camber is out of alignment, it may cause the inner or outer edge (shoulder) of the tyre to wear prematurely, considerably more than the rest of the tyre. The most common cause is misalignment, others may include a dislocated tower strut, a bent strut, a weak or broken spring.
Feathered Directional Wear
This type of wear pattern is smooth, when you rub your hand across it one way and rough the other way – hence the name feathered. It refers to toe wear problems caused by a parallel gap between the wheels as they roll down the road – it transpires when the wheels are toed in or out, causing the tread to scuff, often a result of misalignment or a worn tie rod.
Cups or dips around the edge of the tread usually indicate a cupped wear pattern, it occurs when the wheels bounce up and down as they roll down the road – it may be a result of weakened struts or shock absorbers.
Shoulder More Worn Than Centre
This is usually a result of under-inflated tyres causing the weight to shift to the edge of the tyres resulting in the shoulders to wear more than the centre.
Tread Centre More Worn Than Shoulders
More often than not, this is an indication of over-inflation, too much air in the tyres causes the centres to bulge out and wear unevenly.
We recommend checking your car tyres regularly, identifying uneven tyre wear early enough can help save you money and avoid any unexpected incidents. Contact Longmynd Service Station for advice on uneven tyre wear, our expert team can check your tyre alignment and rectify any problems to get you safely back on the road as soon as possible.