How to read tyre wear and suspension issues
Paying attention to the way your tyres wear can be a great indicator on the overall condition of your vehicle's suspension. Tyre wear patterns can tell you what tyres are working the hardest, whether you may have an alignment issue or even a worn suspension component.
Whenever replacing the tyres on a vehicle, it’s best practice to get the car aligned. Each wheel on a car has a small amount of adjustability. This is to compensate for vehicle ride height, pothole damage or imperfect tolerances from when the vehicle was made.
In some performance applications it may even be beneficial to have the wheels ever so slightly aiming in different directions (more on toe later).
Generally, a stock vehicle will have the wheels tilted in at the top, almost imperceptibly, by 1 degree or so depending on the make and model. This is called camber. Having a small amount of camber pre-set into a car means the tyre has the maximum contact patch on the road while cornering.
Measuring tread depth
In Australia, the minimum legal tread depth is 1.5mm. Measuring tyre tread depth is a fairly straightforward process. The easiest way is by using a cheap gauge readily found at most automotive stores. Remember to measure the tread at least 3 times, the outer and inner sides of the tyre, as well as in the middle.
If you do not have a tread depth gauge you can use a 20 cent coin. If the tyre tread doesn’t reach the platypus bill, you have less than 3mm of tread left and should start considering new tyres.
While the legal minimum is 1.5mm, as tyres wear down past 2-3mm you will notice a steep drop off in wet-weather performance as the tread will struggle to push enough water out of the way to maintain grip on the road.
Every road legal tyre on Australian roads has tread wear indicators built into the tread. As the tyre wears down to become level with these indicators, you can visually assess the tread depth without the need for extra tools.
Types of tread wear
- Under Inflated tyres will wear primarily on the outer edges
- Over Inflated tyres will wear in the middle of the tread, with wear tapering off towards the outside of the tyre.
- Camber wear will give more wear to the inner side of the tyre tapering smoothly towards the outside
- Toe wear will cause aggressive, stepped wear on the inner or outer edge of the tyre depending on whether the car’s alignment is toed in or out.
- Cupping wear is generally a sign of worn or damaged suspension. The tyre will move around unpredictably with worn suspension bushings causing uneven wear patterns.
- Patchy Wear is a sign of a mistreated tyre. Leaving a vehicle parked for too long (left in storage, for example) can cause flat spots, as can emergency braking or locking up the tyres.
Causes of issues
Uneven tyre wear is a symptom of one, or more of the following factors.
- Worn suspension components, shocks, springs, or suspension bushings
- Damaged wheel, eg, from pothole or impact
- Incorrect wheel alignment, excessive camber, toe, or weight
- Incorrect tyre air pressure
Contact the store!
So, what are you waiting for? Speak to Barry and the expert team at Tyrepower Kogarah. Improve the safety and performance of your car with a new set of quality tyres and a wheel alignment in 2020!
Call into our store at 433 West Botany Street, Kogarah, or give us a call on (02) 9587 3366 to find out more about our great range of quality tyres, including our extensive range of Pirelli tyres. Our knowledgeable team will help you to find the best tyres for your car and driving needs.
We do tyres, wheel alignments, wheel balancing as well as pink slip inspections to get you on your way in a car that handles its best.
Call (02) 9587 3366 today, or drop by the store at 433 West Botany Street, Kogarah.