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How to Read Car Tire Tread Wear | Sanjeev Nanda’s How To Stuff

Reading treadwear is relatively easy once you know the basics.

The finer points of¬†car maintenance can seem mysterious to those who aren’t familiar with the craft. How, for example, can a mechanic take one look at your car tires and diagnose a problem? Once you know the basics, it is relatively eastto read car tire tread wear (the way in which the tread on the tire is wearing). Different types of tread wear are indicative of different kinds of problems, most of which can be easily remedied.

Difficulty: Moderately Easy


  1. Look for excessive treadwear at the center of the tire. If the center tread displays more wear than the outer tread, it almost certainly means that the tire is consistently over-inflated. To solve this problem, look for the recommended tire pressure (on the sidewall of your tire) and adjust the tire to that pressure.
  2. Look for excessive tread wear on the outside of the tire. If the outside tread displays more wear than the inner tread, it’s most likely caused by consistent under-inflation of the tire. Make sure that your tire pressure is consistent with the manufacturer’s recommendations.
  3. Look, and feel, for feathering. Feathering is where one side of each tread wears more than the other side does, creating a rounded shape on one side and a sharp edge on the other. Feathering isn’t always visible, but you can feel for it by running your hand one way on the tread and then running it the other way. If the tread feels much smoother on way, you’ve got feathering. To correct feathering you need to make sure that your wheel inset is correct.
  4. Look for tread wear that is occurring on only one side of the tire. If the tread is worn on only one side then you likely have a wheel alignment issue that needs correction.
  5. Look for cupping. Cupping is when small cup-shaped indentations form in the tread via wear. Cupping is usually caused by worn-out suspension components and, to be corrected, any such parts (shocks, springs, ball joints) that are worn out will need to be replaced.


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