What Your Car’s Tire Wear Pattern Says About Your Vehicle

Did you know you can tell a lot about your vehicle from the state of your tires? Here’s what’s behind your tires’ tread, plus our top tips on prolonging your tire lifespan. 

Your Top Driving Safety Feature

You may not realize it, but your tires are one of, if not the, most important safety features of your vehicle. After all, they’re the only part of your car to make contact with the road. If your tires aren’t in good condition, you’ll have a tough time gripping the road, safely turning, and coming to a stop. 

Tire Maintenance Facts & Best Practices

To stay safe on the road, keep your tires in tip-top shape with these important maintenance tips.

Rotate your tires

While you should refer to your vehicle’s owner’s manual for specific recommendations, tire rotation should generally be performed around every 5,000 to 7,000 miles to keep your tires from wearing unevenly. 

Check your tire pressure regularly 

Low tire pressure not only leads to excessive wear but can also be dangerous. If your tires don’t have sufficient pressure, they’ll have a harder time gripping certain surfaces. Check your tire pressure at least once a month to keep you safe and extend the life of your tires. 

Get a tire balancing service

Tires have small weights that limit vibration as they turn, and when these weights aren’t distributed evenly, your tires become unbalanced. This can lead to a bumpy ride as well as uneven wear on your tires. 

Ensure correct wheel alignment

Wheel alignment refers to your car’s suspension system, which connects your car to its wheels. When the alignment is off, your tires will start wearing unevenly. If you see signals that your wheels aren’t aligned, such as your wheel being off-center while you’re driving straight, bring your car to a trained technician. 

Common Tire Wear Patterns: What to Look For

Normal wear

Your tires are wearing normally if the tread looks evenly worn down across the entire face of the tire. 

Patchy tire wear

As the name implies, patchy tire wear occurs when your tires develop flat spots at random places along the tire face. In many cases, this is caused by unbalanced tires or wheel alignment issues. 

Center wear

If the tire tread is wearing only along the center of the tire, you likely need to check your tire pressure. Overinflation causes the center to bulge out and become the only portion of the tire making contact with the road.  

Edge wear

On the other hand, low tire pressure can cause shoulder wear, which means the outer edges of your tires are wearing more than the center. 

Tire cupping

When your tires are “cupped” or “scalloped,” you’ll notice strips of uneven wear, usually across the whole circumference of the tire face. The main culprit is typically a car’s suspension system. Because the car’s pressure can’t be distributed when your tires aren’t balanced, the tires don’t make contact with the road evenly. 

Other Important Tire Tips

Know the warning signs

Uneven tire tread is just one sign that it might be time to update your car’s tires. Other symptoms of tire issues include noises or vibrations while driving, frequent pressure problems, and bulges or cracks in the tire.

Understand your tire lifespan

With normal wear and tear, tires can often last up to 60,000 miles before they need to be replaced. But several factors can impact that number, such as your vehicle, maintenance routine, and local terrain, so check the condition of your tires regularly. 

Choose your tires carefully

It can be tempting to choose the cheapest or best-looking tires, but this can end up impacting your car’s performance and your safety. Because your car was built to work well with certain tire specifications, experts recommend selecting tires that are similar or identical to the originals. 

Tires are key to your safety on the road—and so are the right driving skills. Register for one of our driving courses and get the knowledge you need to drive safely and confidently.