What Is Cupping?
ire cupping is a term used to describe uneven tire wear which causes tires to get indentations in them. Cupping usually occurs when excessive wear is happening. This could be do to poor quality material, or the improper tire was used for the vehicle, or from hard driving. Small pieces of the tire may wear away or chip away while driving. These rough sections are rounded from normal driving thus creating cupping. Cupping is also called “scalloping” and some people use the phrase tire feathering as well.
What Causes Cupping in Tires?
Most of the time cupping occurs due to the purchase of cheap tires. Many times people only look at the price of the tire and don’t consider the long term benefits of purchasing a better tire. Better quality means longer lasting, and more resilient towards improper wear.
That being said, buying high quality tires doesn’t fully protect you from cupping. If a vehicle is not maintained properly then it is not possible for the vehicle to maintain all of its tolerances. People tend to forget about their suspension which is a key factor in a car and takes a lot of abuse every day.
Alignments are very important and should be done after every tire purchase. The alignment of a car changes over time due to expansion and contraction, bushings wearing out, potholes, vibrations and so on. This is why it is important to have a Front End Alignment or 4 wheel alignment done every time you make changes to the suspension or new tires are installed.
If your tires are cupping only in the rear, then you probably never rotated the tires. Tire rotations should be done every 6000 miles. This will ensure your tires wear evenly all around the vehicle. Don’t forget to have them balanced every 12,000 miles as well. Doing this will help prevent many issues.
If you have a situation where only two tires are cupped, then you are probably better off replacing them. It is best to replace in sets, but if you cannot afford it then 2 new tires are better. New tires should always be placed in the rear no matter the drive line. Make sure to rotate them regularly!