Tire Cupping: Symptoms, Problems, and Prevention

Car maintenance tips are important if you have been driving a car for long.  It may be a less known term “tire cupping,” but every vehicle owner should be familiar with this phrase. A vehicle owner needs to learn the ways of recognizing the early symptoms of this issue, so they can timely identify and repair these issues before things get out of hands.

This article would be a good walkthrough from tire cupping, causes, signs, and ways to prevent it. So, give it a good read because it has all you need to know about tire cupping.

Let’s go ahead.

What is Meant by the Phrase “Tire Cupping?”

Although this term might be new for you and sound something quite unusual, there is no such big science involved. At least this is one of those car problems for which you need a mechanic to find out.

Uneven Wearing in the Tires

If you find uneven wearing in the tires, that is all that this phrase means. You will find them unevenly distributed three to four inches apart in patches. If you look at the tire, you will recognize some scraped area with plenty of treads left all of the surfaces of the tires uniformly with deeper abrasions.

This makes tire cupping different from other types of uneven wear and tears of the tire. As discussed above, if you see visible uneven wear in patches, then it’s a sign that your tires are about to get cupped.

It’s not just one thing to look for when you suspect a tire cupping. There are a lot more signs that would become visible before you notice those rough patches.

After understanding what tire cupping is, here is how you will find out about tire cupping.

Symptoms of Tire Cupping

1. Tire Damages

If you get the idea behind the whole cupping thing, you would know the most common sign that you would see for tire cupping is tire damage.

To be more specific, you will find the kind of damage we have highlighted above in detail. You will find these overworn patches all over the normal tire. However, you will witness this at the very end of everything. So, we will help you to find this out before it’s too late.

If you think you might face this issue in the future, then we would recommend you to inspect the tire on your own. Move your hand all along the tire surface. Before the damages lead you to the point of actual tears, you will be able to guess when it’s coming.

Running your hand all over the tire surface will make you feel small depressions in the tire. This means you are at an early stage of tire cupping. Upon finding this, take your vehicle to the garage for further checking.

You can even repair it yourself if it hasn’t gone beyond the point of physical damage. You can start by inspecting your suspension and struts.

2. Vibration  

If you feel vibration and wobbling while you are driving the car, this point straight to the fact that your car tire is cupping. You can easily feel it while you are driving on the road with a lot of hindrances, such as speed breakers, traffic jams, or potholes.

This symptom links very much that to the above-defined issues. This happens at the surface where the uneven wear is present, and this creates different contact points for the tire to run over the road you are driving on. This produces vibration in the wheels, and you will feel your vehicle wobbling.

You will most probably notice this as the first symptom. So, in case you do so, go to the paragraph above and inspect your car tire physically and visually.

3. Vehicle Lean

Driving a car with a cupped tire will bring more issues in front of you. While tuning your car, if you need to make more efforts than usual to precision, this means your vehicle is leaning.

To be exact, your tire isn’t balanced and needs more of it. If you don’t tune it more, then the tires would go under extra pressure leading to further wear and tear.

How to check your car if it’s leaning? 

If you can’t judge the wheels by the tuning part, then take the car for a test drive in an open space such as parking lot or long empty roads. Speed up to 20 or 30MPH and let your vehicle move forward on its own without interrupting its control. Yes, this means no use of steering as well. Let the car roll on its own for this experiment.

If the car starts moving to one side on its own, then this indicates unbalanced tires. And as we have talked about it, all this could easily lead to cupping.

If you experience these signs while you are tuning your car or giving a shot to the above interesting experiment, then get your tires balanced as soon as possible. You can easily do it at your home if you have the equipment.

 Don’t just balance your tires, inspect them as well. This is another cause of car leaning and cupping. Check them if cupping is caused by leaning, or you might need a new pair soon.

Tips to Prevent Tire Cupping

As every problem got a solution, so does tire cupping. After going through causes and signs of cupping, here is how to get rid of it in the first place. Just remember, prevention is better than cure. If you can avoid a problem just then and there so why would you sign up for getting into a fix?

Pulling on another string, let me tell you, the maintenance program would be much lighter on your pocket than repairing and fixing one, and you also can keep yourself safe this way.

Here is what you can do for your tires to save from getting cupped:

1. Correcting the Tire Balance

You must be thinking that we have already discussed fixing a leaning vehicle. But, checking on tire again and again for balance as a part of your maintenance tips will protect it from getting damaged in the first place.

You might have a difference of opinion depending on the tire brand and your car, but remember this as a blanket rule to check for the balance of the tires every 3000 to 6000 miles. If you have doing it since covering early mileage, then your vehicle would already be good to go. The longer you delay checking back on it, the more misbalancing would take place, making the tires prone to damage.

2. Rotate Those Tires 

Who rotates their tires daily? If you do so, then a big thumbs up to you because most of us don’t do it.

You need to do as we say and make it a practice. Again, it may vary as per the tire manufacturer; however, for a rule of thumb, you should rotate the tires every 4,000 to 8000 miles.

This will increase the life span of the tire, saving it from uneven tire wearing and ta-da you don’t experience cupping.

3. Align your Wheels

If you can do it on your own in your garage, then do it often. You are already going well. In case you need assistance, you can take your car to the service center near you. If you avoid it, it will only promote cupping.

To put it simple, unaligned, or improperly aligned tires equal to tires cupping. So, make sure you get them aligned properly.

4. Check the Internal Pressure

You can easily get the internal pressure checked at home. How? Google it. Look at the sidewall of the tire and search the value of the recommended pressure for this aspect ratio online. Once you get the right value, try to maintain it. Yes, it’s that simple to prevent that uneven wear and tears.

What Are Some Problems Cause by Tire Cupping?

You must be thinking if it is that important to discuss tire cupping – why one should even bother to do so much to look into causes, taking the vehicle to the test drive, or preventing those symptoms. Here is why it is important:

1. Makes Your Drive Unsafe

Cupping will make the drive really unsafe for you. You would be unable to keep steady control over the control, especially when you will need a good steering response in extreme road conditions such as braking. You would want to get into problems that can cost you more than just money.

2. Tires Become More Prone to Damages

As cupping progresses, the tire will become more prone to damages. This means it can soon blow out. Imagine being stuck in traffic or returning from a tough day at work, and now you have to take the vehicle at the roadside just to change that blown tire. You could feel the frustration, right? It’s not just a major inconvenience but a safety consideration too.

3. Costly if not Repaired on Time

Don’t forget that a tire that has been damaged due to cupping needs a replacement much before the actual time of a regular tire. I am sure, just like us, you wouldn’t want to spend an extra penny when you can easily avoid it.

So, its way easier to keep an eye on the symptoms of tire cupping and following up with DIY maintenance tips to ensure your tire safe from damage and make their life longer. This way, you get three benefits in just one way, that is, no tire burst or damage, longer tire life, and your safety. Of course, we cannot let go of the money matter. You don’t need to replace them again and again. So, weigh your benefits accordingly.