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Tire cupping is a situation where there’s an uneven wear pattern. In this case, the tire’s tread will appear as if it has a series of little dips all around. And, cupped tires can lead to an unpleasant driving experience.
For instance, they may produce excessive noise and vibrations, making your ride uncomfortable. Also, you may experience a loss of grip and traction, making it hard to control your vehicle.
Identifying the causes, fixing the issue and preventing tire cupping in the future will help you to save money and minimize the inconveniences of such unexpected repairs.
Causes of Tire Cupping
The causes of tire cupping will vary from one vehicle to the next. Here are some possible causes.
Worn Suspension Systems
A vehicle’s suspension features numerous components like bushings, shock absorbers, joints, bearings, strut assembly, and springs. And, all these components are subject to wear and tear with time.
Whether it’s only a single component that’s worn or the entire system, there will be excessive bouncing, since the system is no longer about to distribute the vehicle’s weight uniformly. As a result, there will be uneven pressure points on the tire, creating tire scalloping.
Weight across a tire’s circumference has to be uniformly distributed at all times. If it’s not uniformly distributed, it may cause unbalanced tires. In case this issue escalates, some sections of the tire will hit the road at a higher force than the others. Consequently, the increased force in some areas will cause them to wear out at a faster rate compared to the others, thus causing cupped tires or uneven tread wear.
If the tires on your vehicle are misaligned, their contact with the road will be uneven. Also, it’s highly likely they won’t roll straight. Consequently, the non-uniformity will eventually cause cupping.
When it’s time to purchase tires, some drivers will go for the cheapest they can find on the market. However, while there’s nothing wrong with trying to save money on tires, cheap quality tires are more prone to cupping, compared to their higher quality counterparts.
The reason behind this is that some tire manufacturers will use lower-quality materials when manufacturing the tires, in an attempt to save on production costs. As you may expect, such tires may not provide adequate support to the tread. Also, such tires may not have been subjected to thorough stress checks and testing, to measure their endurance and rigidity. As a result, these low-quality tires may be more prone to cupping, compared to their higher-quality counterparts.
Signs of Tire Cupping
Random cups or scoops on certain areas of the tire are one of the clearest signs of tire cupping or tire scalloping. However, there are other signs that you may hear or experience when driving, which may indicate tire cupping. Here are some signs that your tires may be cupped.
Excessive Tire Noise
Cupped tires tend to be excessively noisy, especially when driving at highway speeds. So, if you experience excessive noise when driving at highway speeds, you may have cupped tires. And, it will be advisable to have the tires inspected by an expert.
Excessive vibrations are another telltale sign of tire cupping. If your seat or steering wheel is vibrating or shaking, there may be a possibility of unbalanced or cupped tires. If you are feeling the vibrations through the steering wheel, then the issues may be with the front tires.
On the other hand, if you are feeling the vibrations through the seat, then the issue is with the rear wheels. In case you are feeling the vibrations both at the steering wheel and in the seat, then all the wheels may be having issues and they should be checked for possible cupping.
How to Fix a Cupped Tire
If you have experienced any of the above signs when driving, there’s a possibility that your tires are cupped. Fortunately, you can easily get a cupped tire back on track, if the issue is not too extensive. Here are the steps to follow.
Diagnose the Problem
First, you will need to assess the extent of the problem. And to do this, you should first park your vehicle on a level surface and engage the emergency brake. After doing that, you should then inspect all the tires in your vehicle. This inspection will help you to determine whether the cupping has happened on all the tires as well as the extent of the cupping.
Get the Cupped Tires Back on Track
Once you’ve identified the extent of the problem, it’s now time to fix the issue. And to get your cupped tires back on track, you have two options to explore. The option to pursue will depend on the extent of the problem.
First, if your tires are slightly cupped, you can take your vehicle to the tire shop and have the tires rotated. By rotating the cupped tires, they will wear out uniformly again, thus helping to minimize the issues that come with cupping.
Second, if the tires are excessively cupped, you can request the tire shop to use their tire-shaving machine to shave the tires slightly and even them out. As much as having the tires shaved may nullify their warranty, it will help to even them out. By doing so, it will eliminate all the undesirable issues that come with cupped tires such as excessive noise, vibrations, tread squirming and poor steering response.
How to Prevent Tire Cupping
As you may have probably heard a thousand times, prevention is better than cure. And this also applies to the issue of tire cupping. While you can manage to get your cupped tires back on track, you may sometimes be forced to purchase a new set, if the cupping is too extensive. Hence, you should focus on preventing the issue from happening as much as possible.
Fortunately, you can easily prevent tire cupping through regular car and tire maintenance. These will include adhering to routine tire rotation, wheel alignment, wheel balancing as well as maintaining the recommended tire pressure.
Wrapping It Up
For your vehicle to perform optimally, all its tires must be working properly. So, if you have noticed that the tires are cupped, you need to address the issue right away, to ensure safety on the road and a pleasant driving experience.
About The Author
I've spent many years selling cars, working with auto detailers, mechanics, dealership service teams, quoting and researching car insurance, modding my own cars, and much more.Read More About Charles Redding