Ask the Best and Brightest: Tires and Wear Patterns?

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

Casey W. Raskob writes:

Years ago, I would see tires with a pattern. That pattern was cut to the base of the tire, and but for tread wear indicators, the pattern of the tire did not change from new to bald. I now have a set of General UHP tires, reviewed on this site. I’ve been happy with the UHP’s overall—while not the Pilot Sports they replaced, they are 9/10’s of the PS for 1/3 the price. Now the tires approach the halfway point of tread wear. The tread blocks and pattern will change in a few places. I’ve noted this on other tires as well. Why do tire makers “tier” the tread patterns today? What advantage will accrue? Do they make the tires louder at the end of service life to encourage replacement? (my last set of Pilot Sports were way loud at the end). Is the rubber formula different and if so, why?

Edward Niedermeyer
Edward Niedermeyer

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  • YotaCarFan YotaCarFan on Sep 26, 2009

    @chops: What about circumferential grooves that are shallower than the majority of the other tread area? I had some Bridgestone Turanza EL400 tires that had 3 deep circumferential grooves and two outer shallow ones. The shallow ones were gone after about 10k miles on the tire. Are those just for aesthetic purposes, or do they actually add to wet performance making the tires less safe once the shallower treads are gone? I assumed the design was to ensure a stiff sporty feel and still have good wet traction when new so the tire would qualify for M+S ratings. Are tires that have these partial depth treads significantly less safe once the shallow tread wears off? Also, how does one measure tread depth on them? TireRack.Com has a generic statement on tread depth saying to measure the depth of each tread and average them; does this apply to multi-depth tread tires? Does one use "0" for the depth of "missing" treads?

  • Joeaverage Joeaverage on Sep 26, 2009

    Golden2Husky - the harder tire compound gained from aging them makes them last longer. I heard of an old taxi driver trick where they age tires in a basement for a couple of years before they put them into service. It's also why motorcycle tires wear so quickly. And track tires even quicker. Softer tire compounds.

  • Ddr7 Ddr7 on Sep 26, 2009

    The story of tires is a very long one, you read reviews, comments, opinions but you can never tell what would be best for you. I started with Good Year RS/A, 205/50-17, very low tire considering the width, that is on Mazda3 hatchback, handling was amazingly good on dry, at speed and it would never suffer from Manhattan potholes, very good sidewalls, but as soon as you encounter wet surface or snow, forget about it, the only way to describe it was simply unsafe. They went down to the wear bars at 30k miles. Now what to do? get another set? no way, I like to be safe in the wet, so I got the Dunlop SP Sport signature, rated to 60k miles, it does not give you the feel of the Good Year but I'm not so sure it perform less in dry conditions, so far I had no issues of handling, now, the wet and snow performance are 1000% better than the Good Year, I mean, go 70mph in heavy rain and there is no sign of loosing grip, simply amazing! also, judging from the wear so far with 10k miles I'm sure they will go beyond 40k easy. What's funny about this story is that these 2 tires are coming from essentially the same company, the Good Year cost 210$ each to replace, the Dunlop was exactly half, 104$ from tire rack.

  • Chops Chops on Sep 28, 2009

    sorry for the slow replies. Busy week-end, no time for computing........ @golden2husky : lack of tread depth always degrades wet performance; the water needs somewhere to go. It is well documented if you look for it. Also rubber hardens as it ages, and it loses it's ability to resist heat buildup, which can cause tread seperation. Hardened 9 year old tires are just dangerous; so how old is to old? depends on the conditions the tire is kept in, and the variables, from a climated controlled garage, to a sun baked driveway, prevent anyone from putting a standard number on this one. @don1967 : It's more typical to see full depth sipes in a LT/SUV tire, especially as you move towards the all-terrain segments. It really becomes a function of matching compound, tread depths, and desired performance. All-season won't have the same block stiffness as UHP of course. Michelin does it as well as anyone, but of course you pay for it. @YotaCarFan : Sometimes you'll see these narrow grooves on designs that don't go full depth. They add to the handling characteristics of the tire, and are not really for wet performance. At about 4/32's left, wet becomes significantly degraded. As far as M+S, almost anything can qualify with the way the rule is written, so that is not a factor. Tire Rack is one of the best in the industry for tire advice. The shallower grooves would not qualify for measurement to start with.