Irregular Tyre Wear Indicators Causes and Resolutions

Irregular tyre wear is frustrating to say the least, and it can steal your tyres’ tread wear and performance if you allow it to. However, irregular wear has so many types and causes, from improper balance and misalignment to low pressure or a bent rim. Below, you’ll learn how to recognize the issue, how to tell where its origins lie, and how you can resolve problems.

The Causes of Premature Tyre Wear

  • Air pressure: Too much or too little air pressure will cause your Michelin tyres to wear in certain patterns.
  • Balance problems: If a tyre is improperly balanced, it will spin in a wobbly way. The wobbling will cause your Nitto tyres to wear improperly, and you’ll likely feel a vibration throughout the vehicle.
  • A bent wheel: Along with causing vibration issues, bent wheels can affect wear on all four tyres. As the tyre’s bead follows the wheel’s contour, the bent part of the wheel will be copied by the tyre’s shoulder tread as the entire sidewall follows the bend. This can cause all sorts of problems with 4×4 wheels and tyres.
  • Misalignment: A four-point alignment, rather than a front-end alignment, will ensure that all four tyres are flat on the ground and parallel to one another. If a vehicle is misaligned, a variety of abnormal wear patterns may develop. Furthermore, the type of impact that bends a rim will also knock a vehicle out of alignment, creating a wear problem that essentially magnifies itself.

Wear Patterns

  • One shoulder: If one of the tyre’s shoulders are excessively worn, it’s usually related to incorrect camber or another alignment issue. Here, the tyre tilts to either side, putting too much pressure on its shoulder. When this type of wear becomes visible, it’s often too late for any fix short of tyre replacement and realignment, although it may be possible to flip the tyre on the wheel or rotate it to the opposite side.
  • Feathering or scalloping: This problem occurs when all tread blocks on one tyre shoulder develop uneven wear, leaving a raised area on the trailing or leading edge of each tread block. The earliest indication of this kind of wear is a change in the sound the BF Goodrich tyres produce. Scalloping is typically caused by improper camber, and if it’s caught early enough, an alignment may bring the tyre back to a normal wear pattern.
  • Wear on both shoulders: If a tyre has wear on both sides, it’s due to underinflation. The air pressure recommended by the manufacturer is typically on a sticker or plaque on the inside of the driver’s door.
  • Center rib wear: If a set of tyres is worn in the centre, it’s often due to excess air pressure. Be sure that the pressure is set to the manufacturer’s recommendation, not what’s written on the sidewall. That number is the maximum allowable pressure, not a firm recommendation. If the problem isn’t due to air pressure, it may be due to the tyres being too wide for your wheels.
  • Spot shoulder wear: If a tyre’s shoulder is worn in one spot, it’s usually due to bent steel belts or a bent wheel.
  • Lateral wear: If your tyres are laterally worn, they wobble from one side to the other as they spin. This is typically an alignment or suspension issue, specifically an improper toe setting. A toed-in wheel is slanted toward the vehicle, while toed-out wheels slant away. A common issue occurs when both front tyres are toed in the same direction, which causes the vehicle to pull to either side when you let go of the steering wheel. However, you may also encounter problems when opposite-side tyres are both toed in or toed out. This won’t cause your vehicle to pull noticeably, because the tyres are fighting one another. However, you may notice a very annoying vibration throughout the vehicle. This type of wear can happen quickly, but if you catch it early enough, you can correct the alignment issue and restore the tyres to a normal wear pattern.

As always with wheels, tyres and other 4WD supacentre deals, a bit of prevention can be worth the cure. The best preventive measures for abnormal tyre wear are simple: monitor the air pressure, align the vehicle when you put on new tyres, and rotate them regularly. With these tips, you can keep your tyres rolling (and wearing) evenly throughout their lifetime.