Tire wear patterns

Tire Wear Patterns

Want to learn more about the different kinds of tire wear patterns? You’re in the right place. The way your tires (including tire tread and tire sidewall) wear down can say a lot about the state of your vehicle and your driving habits overall.

Common tire wear conditions and their causes

The fact is, while some tires are built for longevity and others are built for performance – the old saying that "the tire that performs twice as well lasts half as long" is often still true.

On top of that, there are dozens of ways your tires can deteriorate over time beyond simply wearing down through normal driving.

But don’t worry! We put together this list so you can identify the ways your current set of tires might be wearing down, aging or otherwise may require attention.

Overall tire wear conditions

Alignment tire wear

Alignment tire wear

Possible Cause: Vehicle misalignment.

Solution: Depending on severity, any affected tires will need to be replaced.










Center of tire wear

Center of tire wear

Possible Cause: Running tires with too much air pressure (over-inflation).

Solution: Depending on severity, we recommend replacement.







Flat spots on tires

Flat spots on tires

Possible Cause: Brakes locking up or tires skidding.

Solution: Depending on severity, we recommend replacement.







Irregular tire wear

Irregular tire wear

Possible Cause: Tire belt separation or worn suspension.

Solution: Depending on severity, we recommend replacement.







Underinflated tires (edge of tread worn)

Underinflated tires (edge of tread worn)

Possible Cause: Tire pressure is too low, possibly from a puncture.

Solution: Inflate affected tires to proper air pressure level. Depending on severity, we recommend replacement.






Common tire tread conditions

There are thousands of tire tread designs and patterns, all with different features and purposes. Though they can wear down at different intervals and from different causes, you can find some of the more common tire tread conditions below.

Exposed tire cords

Exposed tire cords

Possible Cause: Under-inflation, misalignment with the wheel or vehicle suspension.

Solution: For safety concerns, we recommend immediate replacement.









Tire impact break

Tire impact break

Possible Cause: Impact with an object or debris while driving.

Solution: For safety concerns, we recommend immediate replacement.







Tire chunking

Tire chunking

Possible Cause: Most frequently encountered on mud and off-road tires that are used on the highway for extended periods of time.

Solution: Depending on severity, we recommend replacement.







Tire belt separation

Tire belt separation

Possible Cause: Improper inflation and overloaded vehicle or towing weight.

Solution: This could be a defect in the manufacturing process. We can usually return these tires under the terms of any existing tire warranty.





Tire tread splice

Tire tread splice

Possible Cause: Under-inflation combined with vehicle being overloaded.

Solution: This could be a defect in the manufacturing process. We can usually return these tires under the terms of any existing tire warranty.







Common tire shoulder & sidewall conditions

Tire sidewalls and shoulders effectively do exactly what they sound like they might: provide sturdy support for your vehicle’s weight as they shoulder the force and momentum of your vehicle through turns, acceleration and stopping.

Tire shoulder and sidewall conditions are also among the more serious things that can go wrong with tires, and should be inspected routinely for the following:

Sidewall impact break

Sidewall impact break

Possible Cause: Striking an object or going over a curb, especially at high speeds.

Solution: For safety concerns, we recommend immediate replacement.







Ozone cracking/tire dry rot

Ozone cracking/tire dry rot

Possible Cause: Prolonged exposure to direct sunlight and high temperatures.

Solution: This could be a defect in the manufacturing process. We can usually return these tires under the terms of any existing tire warranty.






Heat ring

Heat ring

Possible Cause: Excessive load being carried or driving on a flat tire.

Solution: For safety concerns, we recommend immediate replacement.









Tire sidewall blister

Tire sidewall blister

Possible Cause: Under-inflation or overloading on tire carrying capacity.

Solution: This could be a defect in the manufacturing process. We can usually return these tires under the terms of any existing tire warranty.







Sidewall bulge

Sidewall bulge

Possible Cause: Impact with an object in the road.

Solution: This could be a defect in the manufacturing process. We can usually return these tires under the terms of any existing tire warranty.







Sidewall separation

Sidewall separation

Possible Cause: Impact damage combined with under-inflation.

Solution: This could be a defect in the manufacturing process. We can usually return these tires under the terms of any existing tire warranty.






Sidewall splice

Sidewall splice

Possible Cause: Under-inflation and overloading.

Solution: This could be a defect in the manufacturing process. We can usually return these tires under the terms of any existing tire warranty.






Torque cracks

Torque cracks

Possible Cause: Massive amounts of torque from high-performance or heavy-duty vehicles towing under load.

Solution: If not caused by intentional abuse, this could be a defect in the manufacturing process. We can usually return these tires under the terms of any existing tire warranty.







If any of these tire wear patterns look or sound familiar, simply swing on by one of our locations. We can show you how to check tire tread, diagnose tire damage and take care of the warranty process for you.

And don’t forget to check out our Certificates for more information about how we can help protect your tire investment.


If you have any questions or require any assistance, stop by any of our America's Tire locations and we'll get you taken care of!

Find a store near you

For more information on this and other tire and wheel services, check out our YouTube Channel or reach out to us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.