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How Does Unusual Tread Wear Affect the Performance of Your Vehicle?

How Does Unusual Tread Wear Affect the Performance of Your Vehicle

Your tires play a huge part in giving you a smooth and safe ride. They help in steering accurately and in stopping quickly. It is important that you check your tires for unusual and uneven tread wear regularly since this will warn you to issues that could result in an accident-causing blowout. Unusual and uneven tire wear compromises the longevity and performance of your tires, your safety, and the handling of your vehicle. It can also reduce fuel efficiency. Detecting it early and taking corrective action are a must. 

Auto Repairs Are EXPENSIVE


Through time, it is normal for the tread of your tires to become shallower and for their overall performance to change. Unusual tread wear may happen for a number of different reasons that will leave you with no choice but to say goodbye to your tire sooner than you would like. Checking the tread depth of each tire on your vehicle regularly will not only tell you when it is time to replace a tire but can also help you catch other parts that need maintenance. This way you get the most value of not only your tires but also your vehicle.




Too little tire tread will lead to unsafe driving conditions. When tires lose their grip on the road, a driver may lose control of the vehicle. Tire tread depth matters over wet or snowy roads. When precipitation gets between the tires and the road the driver needs the tread to cut through it and keep as much contact with the road surface as possible. The shallower your tread, the easier you may lose traction when you are driving over wet or snowy roads. It helps if you slow down in those conditions to maintain grip.




The One-sided Wear




Incorrect Wheel Alignment – The way your wheel is aligned is just as important as pressures in making sure your tires perform well and last longer. This is the reason manufacturers provide recommendations on steering and suspension settings to guarantee that the wheels are positioned properly. One-sided wear happens when the top of the tire leans away from or toward your car. 


When the car is brand new the settings are spot-on for the steering and suspension settings, however through driving over potholes, hitting large bumps and general wear and tear these settings can be thrown out. The steering will start to feel different or the vehicle will pull to one side or the other. Alignment problems arise because of unusual tread wear with the typical culprits being toe and camber. 


Tires with excessive toe-in point too far towards the center of the vehicle on bird’s eye view. This causes the scuffing on the outside edge of tire tread which can result in tread blocks looking like saw blade teeth. 


Mechanical parts: Bent or damaged front-end parts such as ball joints and tie rods can also result in uneven outside wear.

Effects on Vehicle Performance

One-sided wear reduces your tire life and decreases steering response. 

The Solution: You should have your vehicle serviced by tire experts for a wheel alignment. They will identify what is wrong with your suspension system and will make sure your car is set straight and your wheels are parallel.

Wear on Both Shoulders

Cause: This type of wear is due to tires being underinflated. Underinflation causes tire edges to have excessive contact with the road. 

Effects on Vehicle Performance

This type of wear lessens tire life by 15 percent or more. It also reduces fuel economy by as much as 15 percent because underinflated tires demand your engine to work harder to make the vehicle run.

The Solution: Make sure that your tires are pumped up to the correct tire pressure as recommended by your manufacturer. Regularly check your tire pressure through the use of a tire pressure gauge. Do this in the morning when your vehicle’s tires are cold. 

The Center Wear 

Cause: Overinflation is the cause of your tire being worn down only in the middle. Too much air causes the middle of the tire to bulge and make more road contact. As a result, the driver had only a fraction of the rubber contacting the asphalt so traction suffered. 

Effects on Vehicle Performance: 

Center Wear speeds up tire wear. It also compromises braking and traction. On top of that, it makes you more prone to blowouts since bald strips cannot dissipate heat. 

The Solution: Deflate your tires until they achieve the recommended PSI as recommended by your manufacturer. You can find this information in your owner’s manual or the sticker in your door jamb. Take note that the max press number found on a tire sidewall is the maximum, not the optimum pressure for daily driving. It’s recommended you check the pressure when tires are cold before you start driving your vehicle. There’s a false claim that you should overinflate tires to lessen rolling resistance and improve fuel economy. While you might save some fuel, you’ll still end up spending more for prematurely worn tires. If your pressure is right but still see center wear then it may mean that the wheel and tires are not correctly matched. 

The Unusual Wear

Cause: Mechanical parts issue can lead to spotting, feathering or scalloped wear because the tire is not tracking straight.  A variety of issues could be contributing to the tread wear such as worn suspension components, loose wheel bearings, aggressive braking, imbalance or mismounted wheels. 

Scalloping/Feathering: These are the terms used when all tread blocks on one shoulder develop a wear pattern where one block edge is higher than the other which then leave raised edges on the trailing or leading edge of each block. You will feel an unmistakable flutter when you run your fingers lightly along the tread blocks over the raised edges. One of the onset indications of this type of wear is usually an unpleasant change in the noise the tire produces. You will hear a loud growl as the edges hit the pavement. Scalloping or feathering is usually caused by incorrect camber and can be considered the earlier stage of the one shoulder wear. You’ve just detected it early enough to correct the alignment and if you are lucky enough the tire might just wear back to normal. 

Spotting: As the name suggests, this refers to tire wear pattern resembling spots in various parts of the tire. The common cause of this is improperly balanced tires. It can also be caused by the driver abruptly slamming the brakes and the tire skids. 

Effects on Vehicle Performance:

Unusual tread wear reduces longevity of tires. It can also compromise braking and traction, and therefore leads to unsafe driving. 

The Solution: Set an appointment with an auto service center where you can get the right diagnosis. They will do the necessary repairs to get your tires hitting the road uniformly and tracking straight. 




Making sure your tires are in good condition is a must. It keeps you safe, saves you fuel and lets you drive smoothly. Here are some simple tips you can do to maximize the life of your tires.


  1. Make sure your tires are properly inflated. As mentioned earlier, improper inflation pressure makes the tire wear more quickly and/or unevenly. Vehicle manufacturers do not only specify the inflation pressures on tires to maximize performance for handling, fuel economy and ride comfort, they also consider tire wear. Proper inflation pressure helps in optimizing acceleration, distribution of vehicle load, cornering forces in the tread and braking. Check your tire pressure regularly (at least once a month) when the tires are cold. 
  2. Regularly rotate your tires to make them last longer and to improve their performance. Ideally, you should rotate tires once every 10,000 km or 6 months.
  3. Have a wheel alignment annually or every 25,000 km to avoid irregular tread wear. The beatings your tires get from potholes and railroad crossings daily plus more serious impacts if any (like car accidents) can knock the vehicle’s tires out of alignment.
  4. Regularly check your tires. Inspect your tires once a month and see if there are any cracks, punctures, bulges, objects lodged in it, and uneven tread wear.
  5. Make sure your tires are appropriate for the current season. Have them changed according to the season. Using tires that are not right for the season will make your tires faster than expected. Different seasons have different driving conditions so it is only reasonable to change them accordingly.
  6. Do not mix and match. At first, it may seem it is more cost effective to replace one or two tires at a time. But if you do not want to give yourself a headache then better avoid having mismatched tires. It will only reduce tire life, cause uneven tread wear and even mechanical issues. 
  7. Replace your tires when necessary. Inspect the tire tread for signs on when to replace your tires. 
  8. Make sure your car’s tires are balanced. Unbalanced tires will shorten the tires’ life and will lead to premature tread wear. It is highly recommended that you have your tires balanced every time you rotate or replace your tires, or buy new. 
  9. Make sure that punctured tires are fixed correctly. A punctured tire can be easily fixed depending on the severity of the puncture or size of the object lodged into it. But it needs to be done the right way so it is recommended that you bring it to a mechanic. 
  10. Store your spare tires properly. Keep them clean, free of grease, gasoline or any type of substance that can affect the quality of the rubber. For indoors, you should make sure your tires are stored in a  cool, clean and dark place away from direct sunlight or any other source of heat. For outdoor storing, keep them raised off the ground and make sure there is waterproof covering with holes to avoid moisture build-up.


Properly taking care of your tires means not having them replace them as often saving you money in the long run and more importantly keep you safer while driving.  


Final Words:


Most uneven tread wear conditions on drive and axle tires are usually caused by improper inflation pressure. The effects of underinflation are well reported and the industry’s disinclination to cover the cost for effective inflation pressure maintenance programs is a clear indication that this issue will continue in the coming years. Irregular tire wears, on the other hand, are generally attributed to worn or misaligned front-end components. 


Studies have indicated that cost per mile is almost twice when original or retreaded tires are pulled early due to the tread being worn unevenly or quickly. The wheel alignment, balance, inflation pressure, fifth wheel placement and wheel width are just a few of the factors that determine tread wear patterns. They can lead to tires' accelerated wear. 


Car owners know that they should not wait for their tread to be worn completely from the surface of their tires before they have them replaced. Driving on bald tires is very risky. You are putting yourself in danger. When tires have little to no tread left, they cannot grip the road properly particularly in wet conditions. It makes your vehicle more prone to hydroplaning and skidding during abrupt braking. Moreover, even if the tires still have tread but suffer from unusual wear, it can reduce your tire life, your car’s handling and fuel economy. 


You must act on the first signs of unusual tread wears. And to detect them early and even prevent them from happening, you must check the pressure in your tires at least once a month, regularly have your wheels aligned and inspect them visually periodically.  The time and money you spent on doing these regular checkups are worth it. You do not want to spend more money and time dealing with the consequences of driving in tires with irregular or uneven tread wear.

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