Where rubber meets the road.
Tires are what separates you and your vehicle from the cold, hard, and dangerous surface of Minnesota’s roadways.
So, how do you spot abnormal tire wear before you’re stranded somewhere? With a trained eye, you can tell if something is wrong simply by looking at the wear patterns on your tires.
No matter the season in Minnesota, understanding your car’s tire wear patterns will help keep you on the roads.
What Causes Tire Wear?
Vehicles, drivers, and driving habits all vary, and tires are no different. Not all tires are made the same which means wear and tear can occur at different rates.
Many factors contribute to irregular tire wear, but the four most common causes include:
- Improper inflation
- Bulges and bubbles on tires
- Broken, bent, and balding tires
Let’s take a deeper look at each.
Alignment issues occur when the tire isn’t aligned correctly with the ground. Misalignment causes the tire to lean towards a single side and wear unevenly. Misaligned tires will usually wear either on the inside or outside of the tire.
Uneven tire wear is an indication that your tires are misaligned. Other signs of misalignment may include:
- Steering pulls hard to either side while driving
- Tire noises such as squeaking, creaking, and rubbing while driving
- Tire vibrations or shaking while driving
- Older tires
2. Improper Inflation
Proper inflation of your tires will help prevent abnormal wear and tear. There are two types of improper inflation to look for: overinflation and underinflation.
If a tire is overinflated, the middle of the tire will make contact with the road while the edges will be slightly elevated off the ground. Driving on overinflated tires causes the center of your tire to wear down more quickly.
Underinflation causes the edges of the tire to contact the surface of the road while the middle of the tire makes little to no contact. As a result, the edges of the tire will wear down much more quickly than the center of the tire.
Look at your owner’s manual or the label on your driver’s side door for the correct tire pressure to avoid under- or over-inflating your tires.
As seasons and altitudes change, so does air pressure. This can also affect your tire pressure. We recommend checking your tire pressure once a month, and don’t forget to check your spare tire as well. A benefit to properly inflated tires is that you’ll get better gas mileage, and who doesn’t like that?
3. Tire Bulges & Air Bubbles
A tire bubble forms when air gets in between the layers of rubber thus creating a small bulge on the sidewall.
Tire bulges mainly result from one of three scenarios:
- A pointed impact, such as a nail piercing the tire
- Low air pressure
- An imperfection in the tire (factory defect)
The longer you wait to fix a tire bubble, the greater the likelihood it will grow and rupture your tire. To remedy a tire bulge, take your vehicle to a service center.
4. Broken, Bent, & Balding Wheels
Driving hazards like potholes, nails, and glass can all cause damage to your tires. Damage from potholes and road debris causes cracks to form against the wheel which then results in abnormal tire wear.
Avoid driving over potholes, rocks, curbs, metal, glass, and wood which can cause internal and external tire damage like broken and bent wheels. Driving over objects located on the road also causes damage to a tire’s tread.
When treads wear down, you end up with a bald tire. Bald tires are unsafe to drive on, and a sign that it’s time to replace them.
To check the tread of a tire, all you need is a quarter:
- Insert quarter (head first) into the grooves of the tire
- If the top of Washington’s head is exposed, it’s time for new tires
Check Your Tires Regularly
Looking at the alignment, inflation levels, and tread condition of your tires, you’ll be able to spot uneven wear. Knowing the difference between wear patterns and what to look for can help you prevent a flat tire.
Tires are an incredibly important part of your vehicle, so check them regularly. Monitor your tires monthly or bi-monthly for optimal performance. If you notice anything unusual, schedule an appointment at Poquet Auto Service Center in Golden Valley or Lakeville!
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