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What Can Cause Excess Tire Wear?

tire-tread-wearA good general rule of thumb is to expect new tires to last about 40k to 50k miles. However, this is a very broad guideline as far as tire lifetimes are concerned. Why? Because there are so many factors that influence things like tread wear and tire life, such as the quality of the tires in question, the tread wear rating, what type of tire it is (i.e. all-season, winter, etc.), the vehicle it’s on, and a consumer’s driving habits.

New tires aren’t cheap, so it’s only natural for drivers to want to get the most miles as they can out of them. Rotating your tires every 6,000 miles (or roughly every other oil change) is pretty basic tire maintenance to reduce wear. Here’s a closer look at some other factors that can cause excessive and premature tire wear:

Mechanical Problems

In order to minimize tread wear, tires have to roll straight, perpendicular to the road, and run parallel to each other. Anything else is likely to cause excessive tread wear. Hence, one of the biggest culprits of premature tire wear are mechanical issues such as poor wheel alignment and bad tire rods. As far as the former is concerned, wheel alignment refers to the vehicle’s suspension and steering components – and how the angles of the tires are coming into contact with the road. So how do you tell if your wheels are out of alignment? Some sign of this can include

  • Uneven tread wear.
  • The vehicle pulling to the right or left.
  • Vehicle vibration during driving.

Using Winter Tires in Summer

The rubber compound that is used in winter tires is softer than that which is typically used in summer tires. As the weather gets warmer, your winter tires will start to wear down at a faster rate because of this softer rubber. You should plan to switch your tires when the average temperatures rise above/below the range of 45-50 degrees. Once the temperatures increase to 50 degrees Fahrenheit, your car’s stopping distance will increase by approx. 5% if you are using winter tires (Hosier).

Over/Under Inflation

Under or over inflation is one of the most common causes of excess tire wear, not to mention a safety hazard. It’s also one of the most easily correctable. Under-inflated tires, for instance, increase rolling resistance, which doesn’t just increase tread wear, but it also hampers fuel economy. Conversely, over-inflated tires mean that less rubber is in contact with the road, not only leading to excess tread wear on the middle portion of the tires, but also decreasing vehicle handling.

Keeping tire pressure to the manufacturer’s recommended amount is especially important in cold weather. Goodyear states that tire pressure can decrease by 1 to 2 pounds for every 10 degrees in temperature drop. To combat this issue, simply check your tire pressure every few weeks in the winter time, and once a month or so during the rest of the year.

Dry Rot

Tire degradation over time is also what’s referred to as “dry rot.” It occurs when oils in the rubber evaporate or break down, typically due to exposure to sunlight.


Some signs of dry rot include:

  • Cracking on the surface of the tire.
  • Sidewall damage.
  • Separation of tread.

As soon as signs of dry rot are detected, it’s recommended that the tires be replaced immediately. Failure to do so could result in complete tire failure.

Aggressive Driving

Aggressive driving is another factor involved in excessive tire wear. For instance, driving at high speeds means that more heat is being generated, and this excess heat leads to tire breakdown. It’s why race car drivers, who make a living driving at high speeds, use high-performance tires. Aside from driving at fast temperatures, abrupt braking and fast starting also generates more heat, which can be detrimental to the life of your tires.


Yup, this will also wear ’em down at a rate that is considered to be above average.

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