Tire wear occurs naturally over time as you use your vehicle and the rubber on your tires wears away. However, certain patterns of tire wear can represent problems with your vehicle, and can shorten the lifespan of your tires if left unchecked. Understanding what to look for when examining your tires can help you discover problems with your vehicle before they become serious.
If you notice that the middle of your tire is more worn than the sides, this is most likely caused by overinflated tires. When the air pressure within your tires is too high, the middle of the tire will bulge outwards. Besides causing excessive wear on the middle of the tire, this also increases the risk of your tires of bursting, and reduces the amount of grip that your vehicle has on the road, reducing the responsiveness of your brakes.
On the other hand, if the sides of your tire is more worn than the middle, it is probably because your tires are underinflated. This will reduce your vehicle's fuel efficiency and acceleration. In order to find out the proper air pressure for you tires, check your owner's manual, or read the side of your tires. Most tires have the recommended PSI printed on them.
Single Sided Wear
If only a single side of your tire is worn, this means that your tires are most likely improperly mounted on your vehicle. This can be a huge problem, and can affect the steering and control of your vehicle, as your tires are sitting on an angle. You should bring your vehicle into a mechanic immediately to have your axel and tire mounts looked at and corrected.
Flat wear refers to large flat spots on some part of your tire, surrounded by regular wear. This occurs when your tires skid while driving, usually due to braking at high speeds. However, they can be representative of problems with your brakes locking up. If you have flat wear on your tires (especially in more than one spot) you should have your brakes looked at to ensure that they are working properly.
Cupping wear refers to when circular pieces of your tire's surface are missing. This is usually caused by a faulty or old suspension system, in which the shocks of your vehicle don't stop it from bouncing when going over bumps. This bouncing allows for sections of the tire to be gouged out. You should have your suspension checked if you notice any cupping wear on your tires. Contact a tire shop for more information about tires.