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Three Common Tire Troubles

Tires can often be the window into the soul of your vehicle’s front-end suspension. When it comes to preventative maintenance for your tires, it is important to pay attention to the signals your tires may be sending to you about the wear and tear to your car’s front end and undercarriage. There are different problems that can arise from worn front-end suspension parts, and the different types of wear and tear shown by your tires can give some important clues regarding the suspension components that may be in need of attention.

Fast Wearing Tires

As Houston commuters add miles to their cars, they will notice that the tread will simply wear down and the ridges in the tire’s tread pattern will become shallower. If your tires are wearing evenly, but wearing down too quickly, you may need to replace the tires with a higher quality brand that is designed to wear longer. Within the treads of your tires, there is a wear-bar that runs perpendicular to the major tread pattern, and when you can see these wear bars clearly it is time to replace your tires. If you can see any wire or metal parts protruding from your tire treads that means the tire has long exceeded its useful life and is probably no longer safe to drive on.

One tried and true technique for anyone to check tire-wear is to use a standard U.S. penny. If you stick a penny into the tread with the president’s head sticking down, the tire tread is acceptable if any part of the head remains below the tread. If your tire does not pass this penny test, chances are the tire has worn too far and it should be replaced.

Uneven Tread Wear

When the treads of your tires are wearing unevenly, there is less likely a problem with your tires. Uneven wear is a signal that the front-end suspension of your car has issues that need to be addressed. If only one side or edge of the tires are wearing out, this may indicate that your car needs a front end alignment, but it could also be a sign that worn ball joints or control arm bushings in the front end are causing problems. If your tires are showing this type of wear, it is important to have a professional mechanic diagnose your front-end issues.

If both the outer and inner edges of the tire are wearing faster than the middle tread of the tire, you may have under-inflated tires. Over-inflated tires will generally wear the center tread more than the edges. Either case can be avoided by using a tire pressure gauge when filling your tires with air, and you should check the pressure of your tires periodically.

Feathering or Scalloping

Sometimes tires will wear in an odd pattern where there is a rounded edge on one side of the tire and an uneven, scalloped or feathered wear pattern on the other edge. In some cases, this condition can be seen by a visual examination of the tire, and in other cases, the condition can be detected best by simply running your hands over the edge of the tire. You will be able to feel the unevenness as you run your hand over the tread. A third method of detection is a vibration or humming noise that can be heard from the front end while driving. The main cause of this issue is front-end tire alignment, and if caught early enough, a proper alignment can prevent further damage to the tire. This condition can also be caused by damaged or bent wheels or other suspension parts.

One of the best ways to ensure the longest life for your tires is to rotate them regularly and make sure that you make a tire-check part of your regular pre-road trip inspections. If you are in the Katy area, be sure to schedule your regular front-end maintenance today at Mission Car Care on Clay Road to ensure that you get the most out of your tires.
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