Tire Wear Patterns: All That You Need to Know

The tire is one component of the car that is prone to wear and tear. Understandably so, considering that it bears the vehicle’s entire weight, even though there is some boost from the car suspension system. The tires also come into contact with the road, which is quite rough and will hasten its tear rate. Like a good mechanic or a car enthusiast, it is an asset if you know the various tire wear patterns.

When you grasp the different tire wear patterns, you can know the problem with the vehicle. Some problems present themselves in distinct wear configurations. We will look at most of these patterns for better comprehension.

What Do Your Tire Wear Patterns Mean?

Below is a tire wear patterns guide, showing you common tire wear patterns and what they mean. 

Tire patterns

Tire Tread Wear On the Center

One of the most common patterns that you will encounter is wearing in the center of the treads. If you notice this in your car tires, it is an indication of over-inflation. When you exceed your tires’ inflation limit, they will ride by the central treads. Too much exposure on the road will lead to the wear concentrated on this part. The solution is to fill the wheels to the required limit.

Tire Tread Wear On the Sides

You may also notice tire tread wear patterns on the sides. It is an indication of poorly inflated tires. The tires bear the weight on the sides, which causes their deterioration. It may also be due to unbalanced tires, which low inflation can contribute. Fill the tires to the right level and check if there is any problem that may compel a tire replacement.

Feather Edge Tire Wear

Feathered tire wear refers to the pattern where the edge is smooth on one side and lifts on the other. Among the causes of feathering is excessive positive or negative toe or poor alignment settings.

There is also the toe-out tire wear, which is quite similar to the feather edge tire damage. In this case, the shoulder ribs wear quickly, and they may have a sawed or toothed texture. The leading cause of this problem is excess negative or positive toeing.

One-Sided Tire Wear On the Shoulders

If there is one-sided tire wear on the shoulder, it is a sign of too much camber. Camber is the inner or outer angle of the tire, as seen from the front or rear. Camber is common in sporty and modified cars with a lower clearance. Excess inward angling of the tires is negative camber, while the outward angling is positive camber. Having too much load and a flawed suspension system can cause cambering.

Patchy Wear Patterns

If your tires have patches, with some of them being deeper than others, it means you have unbalanced wheels. Another sign of out-of-balance tires is a diagonal wear pattern. To beat the problem, you should conduct tire rotation.

Little Dips on the Tread

A lousy suspension system will show in the form of little dips, also known as cups on ye treads. You should check your shocks and springs if you notice the dips.

Looking at the various highlighted tear patterns, you can quickly tell what would cause a tire to wear on the outside.

What Are The Different Signs Of Tire Wear?

When looking at signs of tire wear, there are many to keep tabs on to know how much attention the tires require.

Here are some of the different signs of wear.

Tread Wear

Treadwear is one of the common signs of tire problems. The treads may wear out in different patterns, as earlier mentioned. The pattern the wear assumes can indicate several issues with the car, and you have to be keen to know which problem is in your hands. You can refer to the tire wear patterns guide for proper understanding.

A Rough Driving Experience

You may also notice a rough driving experience if you have worn-out tires. It may come from the imbalance or a poor tread, which translates to poor traction on the road. If the tread wear is deep, you may feel the bumps when driving on rough roads. The bumps may be very pronounced, unlike when driving with new tires.

Poor Fuel Economy

You will experience a hiked consumption, primarily if the tire wear affects its inflation. Poorly inflated tires are among the causes of tire wear on the inside, especially on the shoulders. The tires have more drag, and the engine needs more power to move them. Here, it needs more fuel, which will drain your tank fast.

Bulges And Blisters

Another sign of tire wear that you may encounter is blisters and bulges. They are very serious, and you need to change your tires immediately. The bulges can grow over time and cause a tire to burst. You will experience bulges and blisters on the sides most of the time. It is an indication that the tire is past its life. The logical solution to this problem is getting a replacement.

tire wear patterns guide

What Would Cause A Tire To Wear On The Outside?

What would cause a tire to wear on the outside? This is one of the questions many drivers have when they notice the treads diminish fast on the outer edge. There are several causes of this problem, and we will look at most of them.

Alignment Issues

One of the main culprits of tire wear on the outside is wheel misalignment. It may come due to a faulty suspension system or mechanical impact. The poor wheel alignment may cause it to tilt to the outside, exposing the outer shoulder to the road surface. This situation will lead to outer tread wear. The solution is going for wheel alignment.

Bad Springs

If you notice the front tire on the outside, the problem might be on the springs. The springs perform an essential role in weight support. However, as they age, they lose their elasticity. The frontal wheels use coil springs, which lose their elasticity quite fast, making them lose their height. The loss of height brings about the poor alignment of the suspension system. This will cause the tires to tilt and expose the outer shoulder.


The toe-out refers to when a vehicle’s ball joints fail to work correctly and lose their grip on the suspension system. Like most vehicle parts, the ball joints are prone to wear and tear, and they can start malfunctioning. When the affected part is the lower joint, the tires might start bulging outside.

A Problem with the Bushings

Another reason behind the tires wearing on the outside is a problem with the bushings. These components play a crucial role in preventing free play. In short, you can say they help in firmly holding the suspension system, reducing friction and noise.

In case they malfunction, they may cause the wheels to camber outside. Excess cambering may cause the wheels to tilt inside and cause wear on the tires’ outer edges.

How to Fix Tire Wear on The Outside

When you notice that your tires are worn on the outside, it is prudent that you fix them promptly. It will help you prevent secondary issues that can make the issue more severe.

The following are some of the moves to make to help you in fixing a bad tire.

Inspecting the Tires

Start by inspecting the tires and reading the tread wear patterns if present. The p-patterns will aid in telling you what the underlying problem is. If you are not sure of the patterns, you can bring in a professional to help diagnose the issue at hand. Once you identify the problem, you can start planning on the necessary repairs.


Most of the time, repairs will work for you to bring the tires and entire suspension system back to working order. After inspection, you will know the areas to lay your focus on. If it is the tires, you can inflate them to the required level and perform wheel balancing.

You can also rotate them to improve their service lives. Next, pay attention to other components like bushings, springs, and ball joints. If they have a problem, you need to fix them too.

Making replacements

At times, you may find that the tires and other parts of the suspension system are badly off, and repairs won’t make much difference. In this scenario, the best move to make is to replace them. Look for genuine parts which will serve you for a long time.

What Would Cause A Tire To Wear On The Inside?

As you now know, tires can wear both outside and inside. What would cause a tire to wear on the inside? This is a good question that will help you understand the root of your problem. In this case, you realize that the inner shoulder edge is badly worn out. Below are some of the causes of this issue.

Poor Camber Angles

One of the main causes of tire wear on the inside shoulder is due to poor camber angles. Here, you deal with a negative camber angle, where the bottom part tilts outside more than the top parts. Too much of the negative camber tilt will put much stress on the inner edge of the tire. It may start with slight feathering before it goes overboard.

Poor Wheel Alignment

Poor wheel alignment is another culprit when it comes to tire wear on the inside. The imbalance brought by misalignment will lead to the tire being out of balance, and it may tilt outside, exposing the right shoulder to the road surface.

Worn or Damaged Suspension System Components

Another reason for wheels wearing on the inside can be damaged parts of the suspension system. This car system is extensive and contains many components. Among the components include shocks, ball joints, springs, and bushes. If any of these parts get damaged, they can affect the wheel’s alignment and balance. Depending on the angle that the wheels assume, you may have a case of inner or outer tire shoulder damage.

How to Fix Tire Wear on The Inside

When you realize that there is tire wear on the inside, you have to act promptly before it becomes a big burden to deal with. Dealing with inner tire damage is relatively stress-free, especially if you know what you are doing. Like most issues affecting vehicles, you start by inspection to ascertain the extent of the damage. It will help you know which areas need immense attention. If you are not sure about this step, it is better to bring in an experienced party that will handle it professionally.

Once you know where the problem lies, you can start with routine maintenance. You can change the tire, rotate them and go for balance. At times, you may also need to go for wheel alignment. It is advisable to perform wheel alignment regularly. Do this practice every 6000 to 7000 miles for the best driving experience.

Similar to dealing with tire wear on the outside, you may need to replace some parts. If the parts are past redemption, it will help if you make the necessary replacements. Go for genuine parts, most of which are very durable and will serve you for a lengthy period before compelling another replacement.

Types of Tire Wear YouTube 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How Do You Read A Tire Pattern?

Tire tread patterns will help you understand the problem at hand. Among the things to look for include the affected areas and the nature of the wear. Are there dips on the treads, diagonal wear patterns, or is it affecting the shoulders? You can use a tire tread wear pattern guide, which shows you the tread wear pattern and probable diagnosis.

Q: Can You Fix Cupped Tires?

Tire cupping is the formation of uneven dips on the tire surface. You can fix cupped tires if the problem is mild. However, of severe, you will have to replace the tires. Most of the time, fixing the problem involves changing the shocks. As a preventive measure, you need to inflate the tires and perform tire rotation regularly and correctly.

Q: Will An Alignment Fix Camber?

Too much camber is one of the causes of tire wear, either on the inside or the outside. Alignment is one of the ways to help you fix a cambering issue. Aligning helps square the wheels and helps them be congruent to each other.

Q: Will Bad Ball Joints Cause Tire Wear?

Ball joints give the pivoting movement for a smoother ride. When the ball joint is faulty, the wheel moves freely on the axles, and they may slant. Depending on the tilting angle, the lousy ball joints can either cause inner or outer tire wear.

Q: Is It Bad To Drive On Cupped Tires?

Cupping is damaged to the tire surface, and you should never drive on damaged parts. Most of the time, cupping comes about due to bad shocks and struts. In case you notice that cupping on tires, you have to make the necessary changes like replacing the shocks or struts. In case of severe dipping, tire replacement is recommendable.

Final Word

Understanding tire wear patterns will help you know the issue with your vehicle. It is one thing to rely on when coming up with a car diagnosis, mostly of issues affecting the car suspension system. Highlighted in this piece are the different tire wear patterns and their guide. Follow the guide and know how to deal with any issue that may affect your car tires or associated systems.

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Hi there, I am R. Hasan Tito, a mechanic, and owner of this website. My friend and I created this website to share our knowledge, expertise, and experience with our fellow mechanics' community and car users. I am a specialist and certified automotive mechanic (Both Heavy Commercial and Private Cars). I worked as a Mechanic and Mechanic Supervisor for over fifteen years at Global Rebound Automotive companies - Toyota, TATA, BMW, Nissan, TVs, and Others. Now, I enjoy my new role of leading a team of automotive experts (in their respective fields) and publish new content on a regular basis on my website and social media.

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