Middle of the Road: RNR Explains Tread Wear Patterns
What the heck is this? The other day, I parked a little wonky with my front wheels turned, and when I happened to glance down, I saw something like this! The middle of my tire is all worn out! How did that happen? And what’s more important, how can I keep it from happening again? I’d blame it on my boyfriend who drives like a maniac, but I looked at his tires, and they look just fine. So, what gives?
Worn Down in Texas
That, my dear, looks like a tire that’s been rolling around over inflated. You can try to blame it on your boyfriend’s poor driving skills if you want, but you probably won’t get too far. Your tires are wearing unevenly because there’s been a tire pressure problem going on for a while.
If the pressure is too high consistently, then the middle of the tire (the part of the tire that’s hitting the road the most) will wear down, and your tire will end up looking like the picture you sent us. It could also mean that you have really wide tires on narrow rims, but I’m going to guess for you that’s not the problem. What this means for you ultimately: You need new tires (or a new tire). Have you checked the others for similar wear?
If your tires are under inflated, they’ll wear more on the outside edges of the tire. Consistent under inflation means that the tire is riding more flat and those outer edges are taking the brunt of all that friction and being worn down. If you notice that just one side or the other of the tire is wearing unevenly, you might have a problem with your alignment. These are the most common factors in uneven tread wear.
What can you do (in addition to replacing those worn tires)? Check your tire pressure every now and then. If you’re not sure what the pressure should be, consult your owner’s manual or check the side panel of the driver’s side door for a sticker–you should find it there. Once you know what the pressure should be, get a tire pressure gauge (at any automotive store or even Walmart), and check the pressure by pressing it into the tire valve stem (try to press it evenly) and holding for a second or two. Always check your tire pressure when the car is cold (hasn’t been driven for 3 hours or more) to get the most accurate reading. If you need to add air, do it slowly and check the pressure in between inflations until you get the pressure where it should be. The pressure really shouldn’t be more than 5 PSI more or less than what’s recommended. If you keep your air pressure where it’s supposed to be and your alignment is good, your tires should generally wear evenly–and last longer.
Sorry about your tires, Worn, but feel free to come see us at RNR for recommendations on new tires to fit your needs. May we also suggest rotating your tires and having them balanced on a regular basis? This will minimize uneven tread wear and extend the life of your tires; and if you buy your tires from RNR, you’ll get FREE tire rotation and balancing for the life of your tires! If you need your alignment checked, some of our stores can do that as well, but call your local store to see if they offer that service first. If you need some help paying for those new tires, we can set you up a payment plan that will fit your budget, too. Hope to see you soon! Stay safe on the road!
P.S. Give a thought to nitrogen inflation with your new tires, as well, Worn. The pressure will stay more constant when your tires are filled with nitrogen vs. regular air.