It's not easy to bring back tires once uneven wear starts

  • Article by: PAUL BRAND
  • Updated: August 31, 2012 - 4:00 PM

The rear tires are cupping, and the fronts are becoming louder and louder. What is going on?

Q The rear tires on my car are cupping, which never happened before. The dealer set things right to specs and rotated the rear tires to the front. The mechanic said he hoped they will "wear in." He said all it takes is one good pothole to cause the rear tires to cup. Now the back tires are slowly cupping and the fronts are becoming louder and louder. What is going on?

A I wish you had included the year, make and model of your vehicle. I'm going to assume it's a front-wheel drive automobile -- unusual rear tire wear is more common on a FWD vehicle.

The most common cause is failure to rotate the tires every 6,000 to 8,000 miles. Because there is less weight over the rear axle, the springs and shock absorbers/struts tend to be a bit softer. As the shocks wear, they can allow more up/down oscillation, which can initiate the cupping or unusual wear.

Obviously, lower quality or poorly balanced tires can develop unusual wear prematurely. Remember: Tires are the most important components on your vehicle and, as the saying goes, you get what you pay for.

Sadly, once an unusual wear pattern develops on a tire, it will not "wear in." If the tires still have well over half their tread remaining, you could try having the tires shaved or "buffed" on a special machine that shaves off the cupping, leaving a like-new remaining tread surface. The cost of this compared to quality new tires usually makes the new tire choice more logical.

Q This is not a repair question. If I remember correctly, you used to race cars. My question is this: When I've watched Formula I, the driver has his arms fully extended, yet NASCAR drivers have the steering wheel close to them. Why the difference?

A Fun question, and as an instructor I still spend time driving the Skip Barber Mazdaspeed MX-5 race cars. NASCAR drivers sitting up close to the steering wheel has its origins in the early stock cars, which had no power steering and slow ratio steering boxes. Add to that the characteristics of NASCAR oval racetracks -- long duration corners where the driver has to hold the steering wheel in a turned position and make subtle and delicate corrections to keep the car under control. Sitting close to the wheel with a significant bend to the arms increases leverage and finesse. Even though today's "stock" cars are pure race cars with power steering, drivers still sit relatively close to the steering wheel for comfort and control.

While it seems that open wheel racers -- Formula 1, IndyCar, etc. -- sit with their arms fully extended, that's not as true today as it was years ago. Though they might not need as much muscle on the steering wheel, they still need that delicate touch and control. Over the years it seems that these racers are, in fact, positioned closer to the steering wheel than in past years.

Two things to remember: The closer you sit to the steering wheel the less physical effort is required and the farther you can turn it without having to reposition your hands. With your hands at roughly the "10 and 2" position and a reasonable bend at the elbows, you can turn the steering wheel more than 180 degrees without having to "shuffle" your hand position.

It's worth remembering for street driving as well.

Q I have 2004 Ford Focus. When placed in gear, the car will not move, but there is a ratcheting noise coming from the transmission area. The axles show no damage. Does the transmission have something broken inside?

A Quite possibly, but make sure that one of the front axle/driveshafts hasn't been pulled outboard enough to disengage the drive splines on the inner end of the inner constant velocity (CV) joint. If this happens, the car won't move.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Oakland - LP: D. Otero 8 FINAL
Kansas City - WP: J. Frasor 9
Minnesota 10/2/14 7:25 PM
Green Bay
Buffalo 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Chicago 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Cleveland 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
St. Louis 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Atlanta 10/5/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Tampa Bay 10/5/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Houston 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Dallas
Baltimore 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Pittsburgh 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Arizona 10/5/14 3:05 PM
Denver
Kansas City 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
NY Jets 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Diego
Cincinnati 10/5/14 7:30 PM
New England
Seattle 10/6/14 7:30 PM
Washington
NY Islanders 5 FINAL
Boston 3
NY Rangers 2 FINAL
Philadelphia 4
Ottawa 1 FINAL
Winnipeg 2
Carolina 1 FINAL
St. Louis 3
Tampa Bay 5 FINAL
Dallas 1
Colorado 0 FINAL
Calgary 2
Los Angeles 4 FINAL
San Jose 1
Fla Atlantic 10/2/14 6:00 PM
FIU
UCF 10/2/14 6:00 PM
Houston
Arizona 10/2/14 9:30 PM
(2) Oregon
Louisville 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Syracuse
San Diego St 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Utah State 10/3/14 9:15 PM
(18) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(12) Miss State
Ball State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Army
Iowa State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(21) Oklahoma State
Marshall 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Old Dominion
Southern Miss 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Middle Tennessee
(20) Ohio State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Maryland
Purdue 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Florida 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
SMU 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(22) East Carolina
Virginia Tech 10/4/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Eastern Mich 10/4/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Texas 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Indiana
Massachusetts 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Tulsa 10/4/14 2:00 PM
Colorado State
New Mexico 10/4/14 2:30 PM
TX-San Antonio
(3) Alabama 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(11) Ole Miss
(14) Stanford 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(9) Notre Dame
(17) Wisconsin 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Navy 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
(7) Baylor 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Texas
(4) Oklahoma 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(25) TCU
Wake Forest 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
NC State 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Clemson
Buffalo 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Bowling Green
Ohio U 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Central Mich
Oregon State 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Colorado
Vanderbilt 10/4/14 3:00 PM
(13) Georgia
Kansas 10/4/14 3:00 PM
West Virginia
Kent State 10/4/14 4:00 PM
Northern Ill
South Alabama 10/4/14 5:00 PM
Appalachian St
Texas-El Paso 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
(15) LSU 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(5) Auburn
UAB 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Ky
Texas Tech 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(23) Kansas State
Michigan 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rutgers
Hawaii 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rice
Toledo 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Mich
ULM 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Georgia State 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
Idaho 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Texas State
Memphis 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Arizona State 10/4/14 6:30 PM
(16) USC
So Carolina 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Kentucky
Pittsburgh 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Virginia
Miami-Florida 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Georgia Tech
(19) Nebraska 10/4/14 7:00 PM
(10) Michigan State
UNLV 10/4/14 7:00 PM
San Jose St
Ga Southern 10/4/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Utah 10/4/14 9:30 PM
(8) UCLA
Boise State 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
Winnipeg 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Edmonton 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close