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Types of Tire Tread Wear

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Several Common Types of Tire Tread Wear:

There are many different types or patterns of tread wear that can be experienced on passenger and light truck tires. Listed below are six of the most common types of tire tread wear with sample photos, descriptions, and possible causes. (TIP: Click on the photos to see two enlarged photos of each different type of tire wear: one with a red circle around the worn area and one without the circle.)

REMEMBER: Sonsio specifies in the Terms and Conditions of all of its programs (including all Road Hazard and Tire & Wheel programs) that if tire tread depth is at or below 2/32 of an inch anywhere on a tire, that tire is no longer covered by the program (even if other areas of the tire still have more than 2/32" tread depth remaining).

Worn Out

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DESCRIPTION: The tire is worn out with even wear from shoulder to shoulder around the tire's circumference.

POSSIBLE CAUSES: Normal tire wear.

Fast Even Wear

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DESCRIPTION: The tire is worn out faster than expected and has even wear from shoulder to shoulder around the tire's circumference.

POSSIBLE CAUSES: Abrasive road surfaces, aggressive driving, improper tire rotation practices, misapplication, frequent mountain driving, continual high load application.

Center Wear

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DESCRIPTION: The center of the tread wears out faster than the adjacent tread surfaces.

POSSIBLE CAUSES: Overinflation, rim width too narrow, misapplication, smooth wear after spin-out, improper tire rotation practices, aggressive acceleration, underinflation for certain tire types (i.e. performance tires).

One-Sided Shoulder Wear

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DESCRIPTION: The shoulder on one side of the tire wears out faster than the adjacent tread surface.

POSSIBLE CAUSES: Hard cornering, misalignment, improper tire rotation practices, loose/worn suspension components, non-uniform mounting, high crown roads.

Both Shoulder Wear

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DESCRIPTION: Both shoulders of the tread wear out faster than the adjacent tread surface.

POSSIBLE CAUSES: Improper inflation pressure, hard cornering, commercial pickup and delivery service, frequent mountain driving, improper tire rotation practices, rim width too wide.

Spot Wear

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DESCRIPTION: The tread is worn in one or more spots on the tire (may be worn smooth or show abrasion marks).

POSSIBLE CAUSES: Brake lock/skid, improper balance, localized underlying separation, chemical contamination, loose/worn suspension components, progressing from tread cut/chip/road hazard injury, improper bead seating.

To learn how to identify the crown, shoulder and sidewall of a tire and which parts can be repaired, go to our Tire Diagram (Crown, Shoulder & Sidewall) & Sample Photos page.

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Important Tread Depth Standards:

According to Tire Industry Association (TIA) standards and most states' laws, if tire tread depth is at or below 2/32 of an inch in any tread groove, the tire must be replaced.

Similarly, Sonsio specifies in the Terms and Conditions of all of its programs (including all Road Hazard and Tire & Wheel programs) that if tire tread depth is at or below 2/32 of an inch anywhere on a tire, that tire is no longer covered by the program (even if other areas of the tire still have more than 2/32" tread depth remaining).

To learn how to measure tire tread depth using the Penny Test, go to our Measuring Tire Tread Depth page.

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***DISCLAIMER: While this webpage can be informative about topics that are related to tire claims, this is intended to act as a general guide for informational purposes only. Final claim determination will ultimately rest with Sonsio personnel who will carefully evaluate each claim on an individual basis.***

This webpage contains content that is based on the Tire Industry Assocation (TIA) Passenger & Light Truck Tire Conditions Manual, 2005 Edition.