Causes of Tire Feathering and Rapid Tire Wear

Good tire maintenance should always be as important as taking care of the rest of your vehicle. It probably is the fastest part of the car to require replacement and is the one that is beaten up on a day-to-day basis. You might wonder why tire maintenance then is a priority when the tires get replaced anyway? While this argument might present a valid point, it is the nature and dynamics of the tires that require such attention. The first is its implications for safety. When tires are worn out, they tend to burst at high speeds and cause gnarly accidents. The second is its impact to fuel efficiency. This might be something that drivers couldn’t immediately feel and grasp but the way it works is that as tire wear progresses, the engine has to work harder to compensate in keeping the same tire revolutions. As the combustion increases, so does fuel consumption. These are the most common impacts you wouldn’t want to figure yourself into.

The Top Causes of Tire Feathering and Rapid Tire Wear

Defining what feathering is, it is the uneven erosion or dulling of the tires on one side with the other still remaining deeply treaded. Visually, feathering can already be seen distinctively as tire ribs will be more obvious with an adjacent rounding effect. Other forms of rapid tire wear are called outerwear, central wear, and cupping. Let’s take a look at the causes of these.

Misalignment causing feathering of tires

Feathering occurs when the tires on the car are no longer aligned. It could be just one to two tires or perhaps all four. Tire misalignment is not noticeable even to the trained mechanic. The vehicle will need to be brought to a car care center, and they will attach probes to each of the mags which then sends measurements to a nearby computer monitor. Imagining how feathering occurs, think of 3 tires that are pointed in an exact parallel line with the length of the car. One tire that is skewed will bear the brunt of the other three who are moving in the same direction. This will cause the misaligned tire to move forward while skidding a portion of it on the road even if it rotates, creating uneven wear on the rib.

Overinflation leading to inner/central wear

If you notice the central portion of the tires is the ones that start to thin out first, then the direct cause is overinflation. When a tire is fed with too much air, it tends to expand in areas where there is more flexibility, and in this case, the center of the tire. This now makes this bulging center the surface that makes the most contact with the road. It carries all the friction and heat from driving and compensates in carrying the weight of the car.

Underinflation resulting in outerwear

Now the opposite effect of underinflating your tires is shifting that wear to the two outer sides. As an insufficient amount of air is injected into the tires, it will experience dropping at both outer sides called the shoulders. These now have a larger spread of the surface area that comes in contact with the road, making them the first to thin after repeated and unresolved use. To remedy this, take a look at the standard tire requirements of your car. Make sure that the right air pressure is supplied to them by opening your car door and looking at the sticker that is normally attached to the doorsill. There will be a tire rating in kPa or kilo-paschal units which you can follow to the dot.

A badly maintained under chassis can contribute to tire cupping

Tire cupping can be described as the wavy edges that appear on the surfaces of the tire, most visible around the shoulder area. This is a result of an uneven contact of the tire with the road, perhaps due to the bouncing of a car caused by broken under chassis components. When shock absorbers have seen the end of their days, they will cause the car to bounce, and depending on the extent of the damage, the vigorous shake can be felt throughout inside the car’s cabin. This leads the tires to come into contact with the road harder as it bounces down and lighter as it bounces up, creating uneven wear as it rotates.

Driving styles impact the speed of any kind of wear

People will have different driving styles. Some would go easy on the accelerator while there are those gas guzzlers who speed through any road regardless of the regulations. Drivers can also be dichotomized into those who turn the steering wheel while the car is stopped and those who turn in while the car is slowly starting to move. The former puts more friction and pressure on the tires. Turning the steering wheel while on full stop engages the most concentrated amount of heat and friction on one spot on the car. The other one knows that as the car moves the friction is distributed, therefore dissipating it to a lesser degree.

The frequency of use dictates the brittleness

Have you ever heard of the phrase too much of something will be bad for you? Well, for tires, that saying matters a lot. If tires are kept under the heat of the sun for a prolonger period of time without being used, they will turn brittle and crumble easier, wasting good tires that went unused. If they are used very frequently, they will of course accelerate being worn out but at least they have served their purpose.

Your Role in Maintaining Your Tires

The identification of tire wear starts with every driver. They must always keep a lookout for any signs of unusual wear that may point to something that is causing the phenomenon. As far as tire maintenance goes, feathering and other visible manifestations can be resolved with identifiable solutions. There are of course those actions that cannot be done on your end alone so never shy from seeking an expert or a mechanic to help you sort things out. At the end of the day, you would want to ply out on the road in confidence for safety and efficiency, not to mention avoiding the cost of prematurely replacing them.