Read What Your Tire Tread Says About Your Driving
The wear pattern on your tires can tell a lot about your driving and the condition of your car. Frequently checking the tread can give you a hint about bigger issues before they manifest into expensive trips to the mechanic. Here are four things to look for and what they tell you about your car and your driving habits.
1. Improper Inflation
If you notice that the outside edge of your tires seem to be wearing faster than the inside, this is a tell-tale sign of underinflation. Having underinflated tires can also cause undue stress to the sidewalls, resulting in cracking and bulging that can be very dangerous. Going the other way, an overinflated tire will have a center wear pattern. By overinflating a tire, you are making the overall shape of the surface in contact with the road more round. This causes the vehicle to sit only on the center part of the tire.
Check your tire pressure frequently and compare that pressure to the recommended level, which is usually located on the driver or passenger side door frame. Keeping your tires aired correctly will increase tire life and decrease damage to other parts of your vehicle.
2. Out of Alignment
The key to good alignment is having the angles of the tires and their contact with the road line up with manufacturer specifications. This means adjusting steering and suspension components. There are a few wear patterns to look for that could indicate bad alignment. Excessive wear on the inner or outer edge of the tire can result from a bad tire toe adjustment. Feathered edge wear, when the ribs are worn on one side of the tire and higher on the other side, can be caused by improper alignment horizontally or vertically.
3. Tire Rotation
Each vehicle has a recommended tire-rotation schedule. Following this schedule will lead to more even tire wear and extend the life of the tires. A visible heel-to-toe feathering pattern is a sign that the tires have not been rotated on the recommended schedule. This feathering will run around the circumference of the tire and not from inside to outside, like the feathering from bad alignment. The leading edge of the tread blocks will be low, and the trailing edge will be high.
4. Aggressive Driving
Tire tread wear is also affected by aggressive driving. Repeated rapid acceleration and high-speed cornering put more stress on the tire surface, causing them to wear out more quickly. If you are checking tire pressure frequently, keeping up with the rotation schedule, and maintaining good vehicle alignment and your tires are still wearing out, it is time to evaluate your driving habits. Reference the mileage rating on your tires against the actual mileage when you need to replace them. If the actual mileage is much lower, consider altering your driving style.
Having properly inflated tires with good tread is important to the safety of your vehicle. Well-maintained tires stop your car faster, have more traction in adverse conditions, and have less chance of failure. Not to mention, you’ll get better gas mileage with good tires. Before heading out on your next trip, it’s worth checking those tires for wear.
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