Poor tire maintenance can lead to premature tire wear, a flat tire or even a blowout. Factors other than tires themselves also can affect tire wear. Worn suspension parts and wheel alignment both play a direct role in tire wear and performance.
Tire Problems to Look For During a Visual Inspection
- Over inflation: Too much air pressure causes mostly the tire’s middle section to contact the road. This creates wear primarily in the center of the tread, with less wear at the tire’s edges.
- Under inflation: Too little air pressure causes mostly the tire’s outer edges to contact the road. This creates wear primarily on both edges of the tire tread, with less wear in the center.
- Tread wear on one edge of the tire: This typically occurs when the wheels are out of alignment.
- Erratic tread wear: This is often called cupping, and may mean the wheel is out of balance, or that the shock absorbers or other suspension components need to be replaced.
- Raised portion of the tread or sidewall: May indicate that one of the belts in the tire carcass has separated from those next to it.
Tire Problems to Look for While Driving
- Unusual vibration or thumping noise: Vibration or thumping noises can indicate an out-of-balance tire, one with tread that has a flat spot due to locking the wheels in a panic stop, or a tire with a separated belt.
- A pull to one side: While driving at a steady speed, pulling to one side may indicate an underinflated or damaged tire on the side of the car to which the vehicle pulls. If this is not the case, a brake problem or poor wheel alignment may be causing the pull.