What Your Car's Tires Are Telling You

Sep 29, 2017 2 min read

What you car's tires are telling you
How do you know when it is time for a new set of tires? Your tires can handle a lot of wear, from the elements whether snow and ice, wet and rainy conditions, or scorching summer pavement. The average tire is designed to drive around 50,000 miles, but in reality could last anywhere from 30,000 to 70,000 miles. Are you wondering how you will know when it’s time to replace your tires? We have developed a handy guide for common wear patterns, what causes them, and what you can do to ensure your tires are safe for your next road trip.

Middle Tread Wear

If your tires are wearing more in the middle of the tire, it may be a sign that your tires are over-inflated. Having tires consistently overinflated may cause tires to ride on the center of the tread and wear prematurely.

The Fix? Your tire comes with inflation guidelines – the side of the tire will recommend the inflation pounds per square inch (PSI).  Inflate tires to the manufacturer’s recommended inflation.

Outer Tread Wear

If your tires are wearing on the outer edge, your tires may be consistently under-inflated. Under-inflating your tires causes more weight from the car to flatten the tire and shift more weight to the outer treads.

The Fix? Rotate tires regularly, and make sure tires are inflated to the level recommended by the tire manufacturer.

One-Sided Tread Wear

If your tires are wearing unevenly on one side or another, and your tires are properly inflated, it may mean your tires are out of alignment, causing your cars to ride on one side more heavily.

The Fix? Have your suspension aligned.

Tire Cupping

Tire Cupping (or scalloping) is apparent when your tire’s outer rim has what look like alternating hills and valleys. According to Popular Mechanics, tire cupping happens when your suspension is bent, or your shock absorbers aren't working correctly – you may feel your car is bouncing as you travel down the road.

The fix? Have a mechanic check your shock absorbers and suspension.

Feathering or Heel-Toe

This looks like your tire has “ramps” in the tread, either side to side or front to back. This is one of the most common tire issues, but also one of the easiest to spot and correct.

The fix? Have your tires rotated more frequently. Many mechanics and car technicians will automatically rotate tires during regular oil changes, but if not be sure to request it every 5,000 to 8,000 miles.

Recommended Tire Maintenance

It’s always a good idea to keep a watchful eye on your tires – they can be an early indicator when maintenance is needed. You can extend the life of your tires by regularly inspecting them to check for signs of uneven wear, maintaining the recommended tire pressure, and driving at safe speeds. Rotating tires regularly can also extend the life of your tires. Don’t forget about the spare tire – be sure to check the tire pressure a couple of times each year.


If you find yourself stranded on the side of the road, few things can get you back on track faster than Farm Bureau’s Emergency Roadside Assistance coverage. Our 24/7 dispatch service will send reliable, professional help to get you back on the road quickly. Schedule a SuperCheck with an agent before your trip to ensure our Roadside Assistance coverage will be there for you when you need it!

Want to learn more?

Contact a local FBFS agent or advisor for answers personalized to you.