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Reading Your Tire Wear

Different problems leave distinct patterns Catching tire wear early on can add thousands of miles to tire life, saving you thousands of dollars. The kind of wear on your tires can also let you know what the problem is, whether the problem is with the tire itself or with your truck's alignment, and how best to mitigate it going forward. Here are a few common examples of tire wear, what they mean, and how you can avoid them.

Thrust or scrub angle wear If the inside of one drive tire is wearing thin before the other, this is called thrust or scrub angle wear. It is caused by improperly aligned drive axles and causes the truck to veer to the right or left depending on which tire is impacted. Unparallel wheels on an axle make one tire roll in a larger diameter. Properly aligning your drive tires will correct scrub or thrust angle wear.

Dog tracking Similar to thrust angle wear, improper alignment of a tractor's rear axles with the trailer axles leads to dog tracking, which will cause the trailer to veer from a straight direction. If your truck is pulling to one direction while traveling in a straight line, your rear tires may be suffering from dog tracking. Making sure a trailer's rear axles are aligned correctly will fix dog tracking.

Sidewall damage Excessive curbing and abnormally heavy loads can damage your tires' sidewalls. Keeping yourself from hitting the curb while parking is the most effective way to keep your sidewalls strong and wear free, but you should also make sure that you're hauling only weights your truck can handle.

Tire camber Improper camber will lead to uneven tread wear. Positive camber happens when a tire is titled out, resulting in smooth wear on the outside of tires. Negative camber is the opposite—tires are tilted in at the top, leading to smooth wear on the inside of tires. Aligning the tires to factory camber specs will produce even wear across the tire.

Cupping wear If sections of your tires are constantly not making contact with the road, this can lead to cupping wear. High and low spots of tread wear will occur as only parts of the tire are actually hitting the road. Worn ride control or suspension components are often the culprit of cupping wear, and it can also mean that your truck needs new shocks.

Flat spotting Aggressive braking, panic stops, or a locked or dragging brake can lead to flat spotting. This is when a lone patch of tread creates a flatter area than the rest of the tire surface. Flat spotting is best avoided by braking properly. The less aggressive you are with your brakes, the less you will have to deal with flat spotting.

Toe or feathered wear When small spots of wear start crossing your tread in a diagonal pattern, you're dealing with feathered or toe wear. Mismatched or improperly inflated tires, differing tire diameters, worn bearings, and improper alignment are all causes of toe or feathered wear. Maintaining proper alignment and inflation should keep this kind of wear to a minimum.

Tire wear is serious business. It can lead to blowouts, wrecks, injury, or worse. By knowing what causes common tire wear, you'll be better prepared to handle it. If you've noticed any of these wear patterns on your tires, bring your truck into Tredroc. We'll be able to correct the cause and make sure it doesn't happen again.