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Tire Forensics at Right Way Auto Repair

Tire Forensics at Right Way Auto Repair

Police investigations on television have taught us that small clues can help us formulate big conclusions. Believe it or not, the same thing can be applied for tires. Some specific tire wear patterns (clues) can reveal more about your car than that meets the eye. Follow along as we teach you how to read those clues and draw a conclusion on what needs to be done to restore driving performance.

Excessive center wear: Over-inflated tire

Over-inflation will cause the center of the tire to bulge out. As a result, the center of the tire receives the most contact with the asphalt, decreasing the tires’ contact with the ground. This causes the most wear at the center treads of the tire. Over-inflation can also cause the sidewalls and treads of the tire to become harder than normal, reducing traction and performance of the tire. Proper inflation pressure optimizes the distribution of vehicle load, acceleration and braking.

Excessive wear along the shoulders: Under-inflated tire

Under-inflated tires cause the tires sidewalls to collapse, since the air pressure is insufficient to hold the weight of the vehicle. This results in excessive wear along the outer edges of the tires. Under-inflated tires reduce the car's fuel efficiency and create excessive heat build-up that not only increases the rate of wear of a tire but can also cause it to blow out entirely.

Cupping on tire: A pattern of alternating hills and valleys

Cupping on the tire often reveals the underlying suspension issues. These issues include, but are not limited to misaligned tires, shock and strut deterioration, unbalanced tires, or bent wheels. Suspension problems worsen the vehicle’s ability to absorb the impact of the bumps. Besides visual tire wear, other signs of suspension issues include tire noise due to uneven wear, vibrating in the steering wheel or seat as you’re driving, and the vehicle pulling to one side. Severe cupping requires the tires and deteriorating shocks or struts to be replaced.

Single-Side Wear: One side of the tire wears down faster than the other

This type of wear means that the inside or the outside of the shoulder rib of the tire tread wears down more than the other ribs. When your vehicle’s suspension system is out of alignment, it may lead to uneven wearing of tires. These issues can cause the vehicle to pull right or left while driving, reducing control and handling efficiency. Make sure that your wheels are aligned to ensure your tire’s longevity and most importantly, your safety.

Heel/Toe tire wear or “Saw-tooth”

“Saw-tooth” refers to the partial wear of individual tread blocks in the direction of tire rotation instead of across the tread. This wear occurs when one side of the tread block wears down more quickly than the other in a circumferential manner. Heel-toe wear is typically a symptom of insufficient tire rotation intervals. It can also be caused by misalignment, worn or damaged suspension bushings, ball joints, and wheel bearings.

Slow leaking tire

The tire is undamaged, but air is still escaping it. It is probably due to a leak between the tire and the rim, wheel damage, or valve stem damage. Any sealing surface between rubber and metal can cause loss of air. The age of the tire, bead chunking (the area where the rubber meets the metal of the rim), a small piece of debris between the rim and the tire, and corrosion contribute to the seal breaking and open a small window for the air to escape. Driving with a slow leak in your tire is potentially dangerous, because it can cause a flat tire. Consequently, a flat tire can become a blowout hazard, which can cause you to lose control of the vehicle, putting yourself and others at the risk for a car accident. If you notice that your tires are not holding air, it is best to get them looked at by a mechanic to diagnose the problem and repair the leak.

Your tires are a critical element to your vehicle's safety and optimal performance. Being attentive to the patterns of tire wear and tear can provide the insight into your vehicle’s underlying issues, so that you can properly and timely address them. If you are not sure of the patterns, have our technicians at Right Way Auto Repair inspect your tires and make recommendations to ensure safe and efficient drives.