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What Causes Tire Cupping? Key Symptoms To Be Aware Of

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Tire cupping is a common problem that can happen to any tire.

So what does it mean when tires are cupping?

There are many causes for this issue, and there are also ways to avoid it from happening in the future.

This blog post will discuss what causes tire cupping and how to prevent it.

What is Tire Cupping?

Tire cupping is what happens when a tire deforms evenly in the shape of a cup.

The result makes it look like your tires are wearing down more on one side than on the other, which creates an imbalance that causes excess tire wear and debris to start happening.

This can be very unsafe for you while driving because you might not realize what’s going on until after something major has happened.

Some common reasons for this issue include over-inflation, under-inflation, improper wheel alignment, too much toe-out (or toe-in), too big of a rim size difference (commonly from replacing tires with previously used ones), or bad shocks/struts.

4 Major Causes Of Tire Cupping

What Causes Tire Cupping

There are many potential reasons why your tires are cupping, but these are the 4 main reasons.

1. Tire pressure

One of the most common causes of tire cupping is low or unequal tire pressure.

This can happen when you are overinflating your tires to compensate for a slow leak, which will cause what’s called “temporary” cupping that goes away after running the vehicle for a few minutes.

2. Road camber deviations and imperfections

If there are any uneven surfaces in roads such as potholes, ridges from where water has washed over it, tree roots pushing up against it, etc., these could all eventually lead to what we call “permanent” cupping on one side of the wheel.

3. Tire Wear

If any tire parts do not have tread on them, you will definitely experience permanent cupping.

This usually happens in the innermost and outermost edges of the tire, where it contacts with the road at all times.

4. Bad Shocks and Suspension

If your shocks and struts are not working properly, you will likely get permanent cupping.

This can happen if they have been overused for too long, or it’s just natural wear from the typical use of a vehicle that has had them on there for so many miles.

Are cupped tires safe to drive on?

“Cupping” or “scalloping” is a type of tire wear that’s characterized by irregular dips or “cups” in the tread of your tires. This kind of wear typically indicates a problem with the suspension, alignment, or balance issue, or it could mean that the tires are not inflated properly.

Driving on cupped tires can be unsafe for several reasons:

  1. Reduced Traction: The irregular wear on the tire reduces the amount of tread in contact with the road, leading to decreased traction. This can affect handling and make the vehicle more difficult to control, especially in wet or slippery conditions.
  2. Increased Vibration and Noise: Cupped tires can cause a loud noise or a bumpy, uncomfortable ride due to the uneven surface of the tires.
  3. Risk of Tire Damage: If a tire is already cupped, continued driving could lead to further damage and possibly a blowout.

If your tires show signs of cupping, it’s essential to have your vehicle inspected by a professional. They can diagnose the cause of the cupping and help correct it to prevent further damage. It’s likely that you’ll need to replace cupped tires, especially if the cupping is severe.

How Can Tires Be Prevented From Cupping?

Here are a couple of things you can do to avoid tire cupping:

1. Regularly Check Tire Pressire

The best solution for preventing future tire cupping issues is making sure you’re maintaining correct tire pressure (based on manufacturer recommendations) by doing regular checks with a quality air gauge. Every week or two should suffice.

Keep an eye out for low or unequal tire pressure so that when you fill up your tank again, you can adjust accordingly to make sure each side is filled equally.

Regularly check tire pressures for both passenger and cargo tires to make sure they are within manufacturer recommendations.

2. Rotate Your Tires

Make sure to rotate your tires regularly by driving one way on a set for about 15k miles before switching sides and doing another 15k miles before rotating again.

This will help keep the tread on all parts of the tire evenly.

3. Improve Your Driver Habits

The most common driver habit that causes cupping is what’s called “oversteering.”

This happens when the driver turns their steering wheel too much and results in a skid on one side of the vehicle, leading to uneven wear or what we call tire cupping.

One way to avoid this would be to make sure you are not turning your steering wheel more than 15 degrees at any time during driving.

How Do You Fix Tire Cupping?

The best solution to fix tire cupping is to bring your vehicle to your local tire dealerships to get the tires checked, balanced, and aligned correctly.

If the tires are not safe to be put back on the road, please ensure that you get them replaced.

Will Unbalanced Tires Cause Cupping?

If your tires are not properly balanced and aligned, your tires will eventually become cupped.

This can happen if the wheels are over-or under-inflated.

They have been rotated improperly for too long of a time period.

As a result, there’s an old tire with uneven wear on a tire installed in place of what should have been replaced, leaving you with a cupped tire.

If your tires are unbalanced, bring your vehicle to your nearest tire dealership to have them balanced and aligned correctly.

Is Tire Cupping Dangerous?

Tire cupping can be dangerous when it starts to affect the handling and steering of your vehicle.

So whenever you start noticing cupping, it’s time for a replacement tire.

If any parts of your tire do not have tread on them, you will definitely experience “permanent” cupping.

If your tires are unbalanced or unaligned, bring your vehicle to a tire dealership for them to be balanced and aligned correctly.


Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and if you click them to make a purchase, Auto Buyer Guru Blog will earn a commission. The decision to purchase these links is completely yours and whether or not you decide to buy something is completely up to you.

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