How your tire wears tells you a lot about your maintenance problems. These wear patterns reveal tire maintenance issues, front end misalignment and other problems. The following are five common wear patterns with descriptions on how you should interpret them.
The Center of the Tire is Worn
This indicates an over-inflated tire. The weight of the car normally causes all of the tread to contact the road but over-inflation prevents this. Instead, only the center part of the tire contacts the road, which causes it to wear quickly. The most common reason why people make this mistake is failure to use a pressure gauge when inflating their tires. Instead, they add air until no bulge is visible on the tire sidewall. This method over-inflates the tire because a certain amount of sidewall bulge is normal.
The Tread at Both Outer Edges are Worn
This means the tires are under-inflated. Not enough air causes more road contact at the edges than at the center of the tire. Under-inflation is often caused by neglect. Because air slowly leaks from your tires over time, under-inflation is the inevitable result of not paying attention to the tire pressure. Chronically under-inflated tires cause excessive flexing of the sidewalls. This fatigues the rubber and may lead to a tire blowout.
The Tread on One Side is Worn
Tread wear on one side indicates wheel misalignment, which causes the wheel to lean on the worn side of the tire. Sometimes the misalignment is caused by worn ball joints, worn springs or suspension bushings. This wear pattern is also caused by chronic overloading of the car or failure to rotate your tires.
Bars of Hard Rubber are Between the Treads
These bars are tread wear indicators. They're built into the tires and become flush with the top of the treads when the tread depth is too low. When this happens, it's time to replace your tires. Continued use of the tires means dangerous loss of traction, especially on wet roads.
This is caused by either an extreme skid where the friction rubs away the tread at one spot, or by parking the car over a long period of time. The portion of the tire that contacts the road becomes permanently deformed, although the tread isn't worn down.
Check your tire pressure once per month with a pressure gauge, and add air when necessary. Don't forget to pay attention to tire wear patterns because they will warn you of improper tire inflation, as well as car maintenance problems.
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