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Uneven Tire Wear – Types and Causes

Learn about abnormal tire wear patterns, how they're cause and ways to prevent them.

tires 01-27-17 Share:


Have your tires ever worn out faster than they should have? Did a tire technician tell you that your tires were worn unevenly? Feathering, cupping, scalloping – these are terms you may have heard before but had no idea what they meant. Let’s clear up the confusion and take a look at these abnormal wear patterns.

Center Wear 


This refers to thinner tread in the middle of the tire vs. the outside edges. This means the tire was over-inflated, and allowed the middle portion to have more contact with the road than the outside edges.


Edge Wear

This refers to thinner tread along both of the outside edges of the tire vs. the center. This means the tire was under-inflated, causing the edges to drag along the road and wear out prematurely.


Toe Wear (sometimes called “feathering”)

This refers to the tread ribs being worn lower/smoother on one side and higher/sharper on the other, kind of like saw teeth. “Toe” is the angle of the tires pointing inward or outward from a top-down view. (Imagine looking down at your own feet and seeing them point inward or outward – this is toe.) Toe wear is often caused by an alignment problem.

Camber Wear

This refers to exaggerated inner or outer edge wear (not both edges). “Camber” is the angle of the tire in relation to the ground if you’re looking at the car from the front. This is also usually caused by an alignment issue, although negative camber is sometimes used intentionally by people who race cars, as it offers better cornering grip.

Cup Wear (sometimes called “scalloping”)


This refers to diagonally “scalloped” worn out spots that are relatively evenly spaced. This is usually caused by bent or worn out suspension parts, or sometimes caused by lack of tire rotation.


Bald/Flat Spots


You could see just one spot or many, and they could be in various parts of the tire. These spots are often caused by improperly balanced tires; they can also form when you suddenly slam on your brakes and the tire skids.


What Can Be Done?

Is there any way to correct uneven tire wear before it’s too late? Well, that completely depends on the extent of the damage that’s already been done. If you notice center wear on your tires, you know your air pressure is too high; correct it, and the problem may eventually even itself out. However, it’s always best to have a trained technician evaluate the extent of the damage before you continue to drive on questionable tires.

Things like tire inflation, balance, rotation, and alignment all need to be maintained on a regular basis to prevent many of these issues. At Wiygul Automotive, we’re dedicated to providing you the safest ride possible. Stop in to any of our 8 locations and our expert techs will be happy to inspect and/or maintain your tires!

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