What Tire Wear Patterns Mean

Having tire wear on your business fleet of vehicles can reduce the overall performance of your tires, resulting in increased fleet maintenance costs. Perhaps more importantly, when tires have irregular wear, it can lead to the loss of tread and traction, which increases the risk of vehicular accidents. Tire wear can stem from varying causes from misalignment to improper air pressure. The following information helps you identify the causes and type of tire wear your fleet vehicles may be experiencing.

Common Causes of Tire Wear

One of the most common causes of tire wear includes less-than-optimal tire air pressure, either due to low or high pressure. Improper balance,where there are vibrations on the tires from wobbling while driving, is another culprit, as is bent wheels. Misalignment can also cause unusual wear patterns on your tires.

Identifying Tire Wear Patterns

Examining and identifying tire wear patterns sheds light on the cause. Below are common tire wear patterns and their probable cause.

One Shoulder Wear.  If you notice just one shoulder of your tire is worn, but not the other, it is likely due to alignment issues. More pressure is being put on one side of the tire, thus causing this unusual wear pattern. The tire may be tilting and putting additional pressure on the shoulder of the tire. Rotating the tire may be helpful, but this is often noticed when the tire already needs to be replaced.

Wear on Both Shoulders. In another case, there is visible wear patterns on both shoulders of the tires. The most common cause of this balanced wear pattern is due to the tire not being inflated enough. Be sure to check the recommended pressure for tires and keep your fleet tires at the proper levels.

Spot Shoulder Wear. If just one spot on the shoulder of the tire has a wear pattern, it is commonly because of a problem with the wheel, usually a bent wheel. Another possibility is the steel belt inside the tire being bent, in which case it will need to be replaced soon.

Center Wear Pattern. Another wear pattern you might notice in your tires is the center wear pattern. This can be identified when the wear marks are mostly near the center of the tire. There are two possibilities; the tires are either too wide for the wheels or too much pressure is being put on the side of the tires.

Scalloping. A scalloping pattern that looks like a feather-like pattern, happens on the sides of your tires and the tread. This occurs when the tread is blocking the tire’s shoulder from creating a normal and balanced wear pattern. If you feel scalloped edges when feeling the tread with your hands, this is a sure sign.

How to Look At Tires

Aside from noticing these patterns, it is also helpful to look for anything embedded in the tire, such as a stone or nails. These are often deep in the tread, so you may need to really search for it. Don’t remove a nail, but instead take it to a mechanic so they can either patch the tire or replace it completely. You should also make a habit of glancing at the sidewalls of the tire for bulges, slits, holes or odd worn patterns.

Knowing tire wear patterns helps you determine when it is time to have your fleet vehicles looked at. Also be sure you have a commercial auto insurance policy if the wear leads to a more serious event.