How to Limit Uneven Tire Wear ￼
Your car’s tires work hard. Every time you drive, they come into contact with the road’s surface and allow you to steer, turn and stop safely. Over time this contact will wear down the tire’s rubber. If your car is working properly, all of the tires should wear down in a similar fashion — but if there’s a problem, the tires will wear unevenly. This article will cover the signs and causes of uneven tire wear and what to do if it happens.
Can I Fix Uneven Wear On My Tires?
The short answer? No, you can’t fix uneven tire wear once it has occurred. Wear comes from the stripping away of the rubber of the tire itself, and that can’t be replaced. If you notice uneven wear, you can take steps to prevent it from getting worse. But if it’s severe enough you’ll need to replace the tire.
What Causes Uneven Wear?
Uneven tire wear is a sign that there’s a bigger problem happening with your car. These causes can include:
- Bad wheel alignment. The car’s suspension system is responsible for keeping your car’s tires all in even contact with the road. When one of these pieces is out of alignment, it means one tire might be pressed against the road while the other isn’t able to come in full contact. Because the pressure isn’t evenly distributed, this means different areas of the tire will wear down in a way they aren’t supposed to.
- Under- or over-inflated tires. Tires have a recommended pressure-per-square-inch, or Psi. Keeping the tires at the correct pressure is the best way to ensure that the surface has the right amount of contact with the road. If tires are overinflated, then too much pressure is being placed on a small area. If they’re underinflated, too much surface area is pressed against the road.
- Unbalanced wheels. Your car’s wheels are made to rotate smoothly around the axle. When they are unbalanced, they can wobble side-to-side or hop around, which creates vibrations that affect the tire tread.
- Broken or dented wheels. Potholes can cause the frame of the wheel to bend, which stops the tires from rotating smoothly. The vibrations here also result in uneven tire tread.
How Can I Prevent Uneven Wear?
- Avoid curbs and potholes. Potholes, speed bumps and curbs can all damage the tire and its wheel if struck too aggressively. Even if the frames are OK, these bumps can knock the suspension out of alignment, which will also result in uneven tire wear. Try to avoid coming into contact with curbs and potholes, and cross over speed bumps at safe speeds.
- Avoid hard braking. Squealing tires may look cool in an action movie, but it’s actually a sign that the rubber is being stripped off of the tires. When accelerating and braking, do your best to increase speed gradually so there’s no squealing.
- Have the tires rotated regularly. No car is perfectly balanced all of the time, so getting the tires rotated helps to even out the rates at which they wear down. The easiest way to do this is to have your tires rotated when you get the oil changed.
- Have the car’s alignment inspected. If your car is pulling to the side or feels wobbly and unstable, it could be the alignment. Have your suspension system inspected annually to make sure it’s aligned properly and the tires aren’t experiencing unbalanced pressure.
- Check the tire pressure. Keeping your car’s tires inflated to the right pressure is key to preventing uneven tire wear. Use a pressure gauge to test the pressure levels, and use the guide that’s inside your car’s driver side door instead of the numbers on the tire itself for the most accurate measurement.
How To Check the Tire Tread for Uneven Wear
If you feel like your car’s driving experience has grown wobbly or unstable, it could be your tires. The best way to identify uneven wear is through inspecting the tires yourself one of two ways:
- Visually inspect the tires. Tire tread should be a consistent pattern and depth. If there is balding, banding, bubbling or stripes of treadless tire, then you have uneven wear.
- Use a tire tread depth gauge. A tire tread depth gauge can help you determine if the tread depth is at unsafe levels. Test the tread depth in several different areas and make note of whether or not it’s within the safety zone.
When To Bring Your Car In for Tire Replacement
Uneven wear and thinning tread are safety hazards that should be addressed as quickly as possible. The tread is designed to grip the road and give you the ability to maneuver safely using the steering wheel. Uneven tread reduces the vehicle’s handling ability and can result in loss of control or poor stopping.
Uneven wear also results in flat tires. Not only does this make your car undrivable, but it can result in damage to the rim that would require shelling out even more money on a replacement.
Once you can visually identify uneven wear or your tread depth gauge signals the tread has reached unsafe measurements, you should make an appointment with a trusted repair shop as soon as possible. The tech will inspect your car’s tires and replace the ones that need it. This replacement often includes a tire rotation as well. It’s typically recommended that at least two tires are replaced at the same time to keep them all wearing down at a similar rate.
By driving safely, keeping your tires the right pressure and keeping up on routine maintenance, you can extend the life of your tires and keep yourself safe on the road.