Tap to Read ➤

Tread Wear Patterns

Ashwini Kulkarni Sule

Inspecting tread wear patterns is of utmost importance to ensure safe driving and longevity of your tires. Read the following story to know more about various related aspects.
Tread wear patterns allow you to check if you have proper inflation or not. By studying one, you can gain knowledge regarding the air pressure, balance, and alignment of the wheels. The correct way to observe it is by inspecting the front profile of the tire, when the vehicle is stationary for quite some time. If you check for such patterns immediately after driving the vehicle, you may not get accurate reading. Even driving it for a mile can cause substantial deviation from its actual pattern. Hence, it is a must to allow the vehicle to be motionless for a considerable time.

How to Check for Such Patterns?

Depending upon the inflation, alignment, and balance of the wheels, they are classified as follows:


A distinct tread wear pattern is observed due to consistent under-inflation. Due to less air in the tire, its edges make increased contact with the ground. This results in them wearing out quicker. Soft tires decrease the performance of the vehicle, as they have to work harder than normal.
They also decrease its fuel efficiency, as they pose resistance to rolling. Under-inflation results in the production of excessive heat and premature wearing of tires. To resolve this problem, always fill the air up to the recommended PSI mark.


It refers to the condition in which the tire is filled with excess air. Due to increased air, only its center makes contact with the ground, resulting in more wearing than the edges. Thus, if you notice a more worn out middle portion of the tire, then you need to deflate it a little. Hard tires make the vehicle difficult to control, thereby increasing the risk of accidents. Also, there is always a possibility of a tire blowing up at higher speeds. To overcome this problem, slowly release bursts of air until you reach the recommended PSI mark.

One Side Wear

If the tread pattern shows a noticeable wearing of one edge, while the other seems normal, it could be the result of misalignment of the wheels. In this case, either the outer or the inner edge wears more than the other one. The problem may originate due to wearing out of certain parts like ball joints or control arm bushings. Often, overloading can disturb the alignment of the wheels. Hence, it is important to keep a check on the load in your vehicle.

Uneven Wearing

When you notice an uneven pattern, you can attribute the problem to misalignment or imbalance of the wheels. In such case, you can see bald spots, cups, or scallops on the surface of the tire. Many times, you may not be able to see these uneven patches, but they can be easily felt by moving your palm over the surface of the tire. To solve this problem, check for the worn out parts, and correct the alignment and balance of the vehicle.
If you fail to notice any of the aforementioned patterns, then be sure that your tire has worn out beyond the legitimate tolerance. To confirm this, take a penny test, which may help you to understand the extent of wearing. Take a penny and insert it in the tread groove, with the Lincoln's head upside down. If you see all of his head, then you have got an excessively worn out tire. Needless to say, you should replace it as early as possible.
Tread wear patterns must be always inspected using a reliable depth indicator or gauge. The inspection should be done as frequently as possible. Early signs of trouble can help you prevent them and increase the life of your tire.