Suspension & Brakes Theory, alignment, spring rates....

How to read tire wear

 
Old 03-09-2012, 03:58 AM
  #1  
The Grumpiest
Thread Starter
iTrader: (4)
 
grumblemarc's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Oak Ridge, TN, USA
Posts: 28,333
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Default How to read tire wear

HOW TO READ TIRE WEAR

The way your tires wear is a good indicator of other parts of your car. Abnormal wear patterns are often caused by the need for simple tire maintenance, or for front end alignment. Tires should be inspected at every opportunity; once a week isn't too often. Learning to read the early warning signs of trouble can prevent wear that shortens tire life or indicates the need for having other parts of the car serviced. Tires should be inspected 3 ways. First, visually examine all 4 tires; second, feel the tread by hand to detect wear such as feathering and third, check all 4 tires with a pocket type pressure gauge.

Over Inflation Excessive wear at the center of the tread indicates that the air pressure in the tire is consistently too high. The tire is riding on the center of the tread and wearing it prematurely. Many times, the "eyeball" method of inflation (pumping the tires up until there is no bulge at the bottom) is at fault; tire inflation pressure should always be checked with a reliable tire gauge. Occasionally, this wear pattern can result from outrageously wide tires on narrow rims. The cure for this is to replace either the tires or the wheels.
Under Inflation This type of wear usually results from consistent under inflation. When a tire is under inflated, there is too much contact with the road by the outer treads, which wear prematurely. Tire pressure should be checked with a reliable pressure gauge. When this type of wear occurs, and the tire pressure is known to be consistently correct, a bent or worn steering component or the need for wheel alignment could be indicated. Bent steering or idler arms cause incorrect toe-in and abnormal handling characteristics on turns.
Feathering Feathering is a condition when the edge of each tread rib develops a slightly rounded edge on one side and a sharp edge on the other. By running your hand over the tire, you can usually feel the sharper edges before you'll be able to see them. The most common cause of feathering is incorrect toe-in setting, which can be cured by having It set correctly. Occasionally toe-in will be set correctly and this wear pattern still occurs. This is usually due to deteriorated bushings in the front suspension, causing the wheel alignment to shift as the car moves down the road.
One Side Wear When an inner or outer rib wears faster than than the rest of the tire, the need for wheel alignment is indicated. There is excessive camber in the front suspension, causing the wheel to lean too much to the inside or outside and putting too much load on one side of the tire. The car may simply need the wheels aligned, but misalignment could be due to sagging springs, worn ball joints, or worn control arm bushings. Because load has a great affect on alignment, be sure the car is loaded the way it's normally driven when you have the wheels aligned; this is particularly important with independent rear suspension cars.
Cupping Cups or scalloped dips appearing around the edge of the tread on one side or the other, almost always indicate worn (sometimes bent) suspension parts. Adjustment of wheel alignment alone will seldom cure the problem. Any worn component that connects the wheel to the car (ball joint, wheel bearing, shock absorber, springs, bushings, etc.) can cause this condition. Worn components should be replaced with new ones. The worn tire should be balanced and possibly moved to a different location on the car. Occasionally, wheels that are out of balance will wear like this, but wheel imbalance usually shows up as bald spots between the outside edges and center of the tread.
Second-rib Wear Second-rib wear is normally found only in radial tires, and appears where the steel belts end in relation to the tread. Normally, it can be kept to a minimum by paying careful attention to tire pressure and frequently rotating the tires. Some car and tire manufacturers consider a slight amount of wear at the second rib of a radial tire normal, but that excessive amounts of wear indicate that the tires are too wide for the wheels. Be careful when having oversize tires installed on narrow wheels.




Additional imagery.

Measuring Tire Wear
Tires have wear bars (flat spots)in the tread grooves to visually indicate wear. If the tread is worn down so the wear bars are flush with the surrounding tread, the tire is worn out and needs to be replaced. If you see cords showing through the rubber, the tire is unsafe to drive on and is on the verge of failure. Replace the tire without delay! The same advice goes for any tire that has bulges, deep cracks or the tread is separating from the casing.


The Penny Test
Tread wear can be measured using a penny. Place the penny with Lincoln's head upside down in a groove between the treads. If you can't see the top of Lincoln's lead, the tire is okay and still has some wear left in it. But if the top of Lincoln's head is flush with the tread, the tread depth is 2/32-inch (1.6mm) or less, indicating the tire is worn out and needs to be replaced.
Some experts now say the same test should now be done with a quarter. If the top of Washington's head is flush with the tread when you place a quarter upside down in a groove, the tread depth is 4/32-inch (3.2mm). Though the tire still has some tread wear left, braking, traction and handling are significantly reduced on wet pavement compared to a tire with more tread on it. Because of this, many experts now recommend replacing tires when the tread depth is worn down to 4/32-inch or less if you drive in an area that receives a lot of rain or snow.

Tire tread wear can be measured with a simple gauge like this.


Other Mechanical Issues.
Regardless of the position on the vehicle, a worn or loose wheel bearing will result in a severe irregular tread wear pattern. Typically, a series of flat spots appear across the tread face, from shoulder to shoulder, around the circumference of the tire. They can be straight or diagonal, and may be accompanied by cupping or scallop wear. Rib depression can also be caused by a worn or loose wheel bearing. In many instances, vehicles with high-speed empty hauls aggravate irregular wear patterns caused by bad wheel bearings. Flat spots caused by frozen or improperly adjusted brakes are usually easy to recognize. They are relatively uniform and extend evenly across the tread face. In dual applications, the flat spots will be in identical positions on both tires. Once again, this problem will not correct itself in service. In fact, as the tire “skips” every time it rotates, it creates another flat spot, which eventually covers the entire tire. New tires with severe brake skid damage repaired by building up the worn area with extruded rubber, curing the tire like a retread, buffing it to make it round again, and skiving out the original tread pattern! It doesn’t look pretty. Mis-mounted or out-of-balance tire/- wheel assemblies can also cause irregular tread wear patterns. These are characterized by both uniform and erratic depressions and are generally present around the circumference of the tire. In some instances, the problem can be corrected so the tire can be run out. In extreme cases, though, the tire must be re-treaded or scrapped.
Too Many Variables.
It is literally impossible to describe all of the reasons why a tire develops uneven tread wear. There are so many variables related to alignment, balance, inflation, suspension and even driving routes that tire technicians could not diagnose every problem without some outside assistance.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pw1lWqlFsEE

_____


Last edited by grumblemarc; 03-14-2013 at 04:11 AM.
grumblemarc is offline  
Old 03-09-2012, 06:23 AM
  #2  
Ek Forever y0!
 
Libertariat's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Beating people with a stick, GA
Posts: 16,712
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Default Re: How to read tire wear

Thanks for the writeup, stickied

Though I'm not sure whether this more appropriately fits in this forum or the tire forum.

This forum generally deals far more with alignment, so I'll leave it here for now.
Libertariat is offline  
Old 03-09-2012, 06:39 AM
  #3  
The Grumpiest
Thread Starter
iTrader: (4)
 
grumblemarc's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Oak Ridge, TN, USA
Posts: 28,333
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Default Re: How to read tire wear

Tire wear by itself would be definitely more suited to the Wheel & Tire forum. I thought it might be appropriate since being able to read tire wear issues can help you to ascertain what parts of your suspension you might need repair or adjustment.
grumblemarc is offline  
Old 07-03-2012, 04:50 AM
  #4  
Honda-Tech Member
 
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 10
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Default Re: How to read tire wear

hah, thanks for this, it seems the previous owner of my vehicle was overinflating the tyres then....
tropicola is offline  
Old 09-23-2012, 11:26 AM
  #5  
Honda-Tech Member
 
BCGARAGE_ED7's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: United States
Posts: 203
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Default

Great write up! Cleared a lot of questions up.


Posted from Honda-tech.com App for Android
BCGARAGE_ED7 is offline  
Old 09-25-2012, 04:30 PM
  #6  
Trial User
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 1
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Default Re: How to read tire wear

thanks
mainmyers115 is offline  
Old 10-04-2012, 10:25 PM
  #7  
Trial User
 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: USA, Chicago, Illinois
Posts: 5
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Default Re: How to read tire wear

That's really a tremendous piece of work and really cleared a lot of questions in my mind that was in my head for like many years .......
Johnlawrence is offline  
Old 10-17-2012, 03:00 PM
  #8  
Honda-Tech Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Posts: 28
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Default Re: How to read tire wear

Thanks this really helps me
ckirso is offline  
Old 01-06-2013, 04:30 PM
  #9  
Honda-Tech Member
 
lilslim's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: North Hollywood, ca, USA
Posts: 7
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Default Re: How to read tire wear

tire wear 101. good sticky.
lilslim is offline  
Old 03-09-2013, 05:16 AM
  #10  
Honda-Tech Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 43
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Default Re: How to read tire wear

Great write up!!!
Eastcoastctr is offline  
Old 03-12-2013, 08:39 PM
  #11  
Trial User
 
Join Date: Mar 2013
Location: Longview, TX
Posts: 1
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Default Re: How to read tire wear

This is awesome. Thanks for the tips! Going to check out possible suspension problems now...
brozizzle is offline  
Old 03-13-2013, 01:27 AM
  #12  
a.k.a. Komodo
 
Kozy.'s Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: England
Posts: 847
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Default Re: How to read tire wear

Over and under inflated are the wrong way round.
Kozy. is offline  
Old 03-13-2013, 04:13 PM
  #13  
Honda-Tech Member
 
Salami's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: NC
Posts: 702
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Default Re: How to read tire wear

Originally Posted by Kozy. View Post
Over and under inflated are the wrong way round.
What?
Salami is offline  
Old 03-13-2013, 04:38 PM
  #14  
Honda-Tech Member
 
chargeR's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Posts: 441
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Default Re: How to read tire wear

Originally Posted by Salami View Post
What?
Over and under inflated are the wrong way round.
chargeR is offline  
Old 03-13-2013, 05:14 PM
  #15  
Honda-Tech Member
 
Salami's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: NC
Posts: 702
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Default Re: How to read tire wear

Originally Posted by chargeR View Post
Over and under inflated are the wrong way round.
Thanks for restating it exactly the same way and making zero attempt to clarify what the issue is. Very helpful.


The descriptions are correct for each, not sure what "are the wrong way around".
Salami is offline  
Old 03-14-2013, 12:47 AM
  #16  
a.k.a. Komodo
 
Kozy.'s Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: England
Posts: 847
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Default Re: How to read tire wear

Originally Posted by Salami View Post
Thanks for restating it exactly the same way and making zero attempt to clarify what the issue is. Very helpful.


The descriptions are correct for each, not sure what "are the wrong way around".
My bad, I was looking at the shape of the carcass and had a brain fart. The deformation of the over inflated tyre makes it look like an underinflated one, and visa versa. Looking purely at the tread, yes, they are correct.

Apologies for the confusion.
Kozy. is offline  
Old 03-14-2013, 03:08 AM
  #17  
Honda-Tech Member
 
chargeR's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Posts: 441
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Default Re: How to read tire wear

Originally Posted by Kozy. View Post
My bad, I was looking at the shape of the carcass and had a brain fart. The deformation of the over inflated tyre makes it look like an underinflated one, and visa versa. Looking purely at the tread, yes, they are correct.

Apologies for the confusion.
Yeah I did the same thing, apologies from me too. It was late.
chargeR is offline  
Old 03-14-2013, 04:07 AM
  #18  
The Grumpiest
Thread Starter
iTrader: (4)
 
grumblemarc's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Oak Ridge, TN, USA
Posts: 28,333
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Default Re: How to read tire wear

Guys. These are the illustrations and descriptions I've seen in almost every off the shelf car manual for the past few decades.
grumblemarc is offline  
Old 03-14-2013, 04:26 AM
  #19  
a.k.a. Komodo
 
Kozy.'s Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: England
Posts: 847
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Default Re: How to read tire wear

This is what I was thinking of:



Note the carcass shape, they're opposite to the illustrations in the article.
Kozy. is offline  
Old 03-14-2013, 04:35 AM
  #20  
The Grumpiest
Thread Starter
iTrader: (4)
 
grumblemarc's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Oak Ridge, TN, USA
Posts: 28,333
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Default Re: How to read tire wear

I added an additional graphic to the OP. The pictures do look different between yours and mine but the wear patterns are still the same.
grumblemarc is offline  
Old 03-14-2013, 03:09 PM
  #21  
Honda-Tech Member
 
Salami's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: NC
Posts: 702
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Default Re: How to read tire wear

Was beginning to think the cold I am fighting was messing with my brain, 20 years in the tire business was telling me otherwise.


Good thread Grumble, thanks for posting.
Salami is offline  
Old 04-06-2013, 01:50 AM
  #22  
Honda-Tech Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: USA
Posts: 19
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Default Re: How to read tire wear

Proper tire tread is an essential part of your car’s performance. Check your car frequently to make sure the tires still have adequate tread. I think that steps that you should follow are find a safe surface to park a car, check that the car is in park, apply the parking brake and turn off the ignition, walk around the car and examine each wheel, check that your tread gauge “zeros” out by pressing it against a hard, flat surface.
davidbloom2013 is offline  
Old 05-06-2013, 12:34 PM
  #23  
Honda-Tech Member
 
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 6
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Default Re: How to read tire wear

I got some weird wear on my tires. I guess I got some work to do
paintedrock is offline  
Old 05-15-2013, 01:53 PM
  #24  
Honda-Tech Member
 
97civic89's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Halifax, NS
Posts: 6
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Default Re: How to read tire wear

thanks for the write up. i'm a automotive apprentice and i'm always looking for stuff like this to help me be more efficient.
97civic89 is offline  
Old 09-25-2013, 03:41 PM
  #25  
Trial User
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Posts: 1
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Default Re: How to read tire wear

Great write-up.
Villain98 is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Quick Reply: How to read tire wear


Contact Us - About Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service

© 2019 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.
 
  • Ask a Question
    Get answers from community experts
Question Title:
Description:
Your question will be posted in: