Your tires have a tale to tell, and possibly several. The wear patterns on your tires aren’t just an indication of how many kilometers you’ve driven; your tires can also indicate possible mechanical issues with your vehicle that can affect driving safety.
Wear along the edges or at the middle
Tires that are properly inflated should wear evenly across the face of the tread. If your tires are worn more at the edges than at the center, this is a common indication of under-inflation. Be aware that tires lose air every month and can lose are more rapidly in the winter months. Under-inflated tires are more susceptible to punctures or blowouts and without a proper contact patch, can struggle for traction when cornering or braking.
If your tires are worn at the center of the tread, this is a sign of over inflation. Tires that are over-inflated have a much smaller contact patch, which is why they wear at the center of the tread. The shoulders of the tire tread have reduced contact with the road surface, which again reduces traction and diminishes handling.
Check your tire pressure once every month and inflate your tires to the pressure suggested on the door placard or in your owner’s manual.
Wear along one edge
If your tires are showing premature wear along the inside or outside edge of the tread, this can be an indication of misalignment or a wheel that is out of camber, meaning it tilts inward more than it’s supposed to. Alignment or camber issues are difficult to spot with the eye but your tires can indicate a problem. Have a certified auto technician inspect your vehicle’s alignment and replace the affected tires if needed.
Feathering or “cupping”
Look for signs of uneven wear on the individual tread blocks. What you might find is that the leading edge of some tread blocks or worn further than the trailing edge of the same tread block. From a distance, this might look like “shadows” and lighter areas on your tire tread. If you run your hand over the tire, it will feel bumpy and uneven. In most cases, this condition on a tire indicates worn suspension components. Your tire is bouncing up and down on the road, causing uneven wear. A well-tuned suspension is designed to keep your tires flat on the ground. A worn suspension can make handling unpredictable and can reduce traction.
If your tires are showing signs of feathering or cupping, take your vehicle to a trusted auto technician and have them do a safety inspection.