Tire feathering is caused by several different things and may be caused due to the vehicle needing a tire alignment (wheel alignment).
Uneven tire wear can be problematic not only from the standpoint of the performance, but also the longevity of your tires. Let’s face it tires are expensive, and we want them to last as long as possible. So have a look below at some of the causes of tire feathering, and maybe we can prevent it going forward.
Causes of tire feathering
Air Pressure- This is one thing we all are bad about! If it isn’t flat then its good right? Well sadly no. Air checks should be done once a month. All wheels leak a small amount of air generally ranging from 2-4 psi per month.
Balancing- This can make you thing you need an alignment, when in reality it is just part of regular maintenance. Have a look at our article on wheel balancing for more.
Bent Wheels- Most of us probably have at least one bent wheel. Things like potholes, curbs or road debris can all cause this.
Once a wheel is bent it is no longer round and causes the tire to shape matching the wheel. This will cause vibrations as well which balancing cannot fix.
Front End Alignment- Having the wheels misaligned will also cause tire feathering as well as other bad wear for your tires decreasing the life of the tires and the performance.
One Shoulder: This is most commonly caused due to the camber being set incorrectly which is a normal adjustment that is made every time you get an alignment. Camber can change from as time goes on due to parts wearing out, tire wear, potholes and so on. You will know if the camber is off by looking at the tire and seeing if it is tilting in or out. Camber is not always perfectly perpendicular on all vehicles as it varies for performance.
Scalloping/Feathering: Scalloping is sometimes used and refers to feathering, occurs when all the tread blocks on the inside or outside shoulder of the tire develop a wear pattern where a block edge is higher on one side compared to the other side of the block. This then leaves raised edges on the blocks of the tires which will make a lovely rumbling noise while driving, generally more notable when turning. Generally this is caused by the camber and can be an early indication of excessive shoulder wear coming in the near future.
Both Shoulders: This is caused by low air pressure or under inflation. The best thing to do is set the tire pressure to the manufacturer’s specifications which is generally on the driver’s door on a sticker. If you are unable to find this then the general pressure to use for most cars and trucks with P metric tires would be 32-32 PSI.
Center Rib: This is most definitely caused by over inflation. Again the best thing to do is set it to manufacturer’s specifications. See Under inflation for a better explanation.
Spot Shoulder: If parts of the tire are more worn then this is generally caused by a bent wheel. See our article on bent wheels for more.
Lateral Wear: Most of the time this will be an alignment issue. It generally occurs when the toe is not set properly. Lateral wear as said is generally caused by the toe of the wheels. Toe is a setting where the wheels are parallel to one another. If the toe is of one tire may point in (toe-in) or point out (toe-out) compared to the other wheel. This is generally noticeable if your car is pulling to one side or the other. It is something that can be fixed with a simple alignment.