What is Tire Cupping?

This is what tire cupping looks like and what causes it

What is Tire Cupping?

A lot of people have heard of “Tire Cupping” but don’t know what it really means. Tire Cupping is a way your treat wears. It’s like a scalloping of the treads. People mostly notice when their tires are cupped (if a technician doesn’t tell them) because of excessive noise or vibration. Cupped tire are incredibly loud because your tire is uneven and it isn’t really round anymore because there are several divots all over the tire.

What causes Tire Cupping?

Tire cupping is cause by a few things:

Unbalanced Tires

Unbalanced tires cause cupping because the tire, essentially, bounces because the weight keeps shifting. This means that the tires aren’t coming to contact with the road evenly causing divots or valleys.

When I bought my tires I had them balanced so why are my tires still cupped?

Tire balancing isn’t one and done. The best, most effective, time to have your tires balanced is when they are first put on. You can still balance tires after they are worn but worn tires become unbalanced faster. When your tires wear the balance can get thrown off. If you hit a large bump they can come out of balance. If you hit a pot hole you not only will you need a balance but possible also an alignment. It’s kind of like putting air in your tires; you put air in when they are new but you have to add air the whole life of the tire.

Bent/Broken/Worn Suspension Parts

This is usually the main culprit in tire cupping. What do we mean by suspension? It’s usually struts/shocks, ball joints, wheel bearings, control arms and bushings because those parts being worn/broken/bent can cause the tire to hop and cause the uneven wear.

Under Inflated Tires

Correct air pressures are important for so many reasons and this is a great example. When tires are under inflated there is way too much tire to road contact. This creates uneven wear and cupping.

Once tires are cupped there really is no way to even them out. You could fix the problem, if it can be fixed, and try to even them out by driving. But the problem with that is it is unsafe to drive on severely cupped tires. Why? Because those cupped areas arent making contact with the road. Which means less traction, handling and stopping distances.

Below is a short video on tire cupping and what causes it.