All drivers should check their tyre tread depth and air pressure regularly to ensure their tyres are roadworthy. These checks are pretty basic and can prolong the life of your tyres, but you should also be on the lookout for abnormal tyre wear patterns. Normally, tyre treads should wear down evenly, but certain problems can cause uneven wear, and the pattern of wear can be a good indicator of the problem. Here are a few common tyre wear patterns to be on the lookout for:
Outer- Or Inner-Edge Wear
Outer- or inner-edge wear is often caused by your wheels being out of alignment. This can make it more difficult to control your car, particularly when driving at speed or when turning a corner. Wheels can become misaligned when you drive onto the kerb or into a pothole, and the uneven wear on your tyres will continue to worsen until you have a wheel alignment carried out.
Double Edge Or Centre Wear
Tread wear on both the outer and inner edges of your tyres or along the centre of your tyres indicates your tyres are not inflated to the correct tyre pressure. Underinflated tyres will wear down along the edges, while overinflated tyres will wear down in the centre. It can be easy to make a mistake when checking what your tyre pressure should be, as the optimal tyre pressure can change depending on the road and weather conditions you're driving in and whether you are carrying a light or heavy load. Your car manual should list the optimal tyre pressures for different scenarios, but you can also check with your mechanic.
If your tyres have a diagonal wear pattern, there may be an issue with your car's suspension. It's best not to drive your car until your mechanic has checked it over, as a damaged suspension can impact handling and cause problems with control when driving in adverse weather conditions. You may only need to have part of your suspension replaced, such as a shock absorber or ball joint, rather than the whole suspension, so don't be put off booking your car into the garage for fear of costly repairs.
Regardless of whether your tyres have an even or uneven tread wear pattern, the tread depth must be at least 1.5mm by law. Use a tread depth gauge regularly to check your tyres are roadworthy and get into the habit of inspecting each tyre for uneven tread wear every time you check tread depth. Spotting uneven wear early and having the necessary repairs carried out can prevent you from having to replace your tyres.