Tire Feathering: Causes, Symptoms, Signs, & Fixes

Tire feathering happens when the tread ribs wear out on one side of the tire, but the other side remains sharp. Your vehicle tires may also be feathered due to the uneven alignment, like extreme caster and toe. It is irritating, and sometimes it can be dangerous or life-threatening.

Therefore, it is recommended that if someone wants to enjoy the full life of the tires, he/she should be careful about car alignment and suspension issues because car alignment and suspension issues are the main causes of tire feathering. This article mainly explains the tire feathering causes, fixing costs, and how to fix it.

What Is Tire Feathering?

Tire feathering is the wearing out of the tires from a specific place or angle. After feathering, the tire gets smoother on one side while the other side remains sharp or in good condition. This mainly happened due to the bad alignment of the tires and the suspension issues.

Tire Feathering

If the feathering is detected early, it should be fixed immediately, which can prolong the tire’s life.

What Causes Tire Feathering?

Tire scuffing and tire feathering are both the same. It is a type of tire wear that happens when the tire tread on one side gets smoother while the other remains sharp.

Tire feathering may occur due to one or more of the below-given causes:

  • Worn Steering Components: The damaged tire rods or the ball joints result in the bad alignment of the wheels, which eventually leads to tire feathering.
  • Damaged Wheel bearings or ball joints: Tire feathering can also occur due to damaged or worn-out ball joints or wheel bearings.
  • Misalignment: Uneven or improper wheel alignments and suspension problems are the most common causes of tire feathering. Almost 90% tires are feathered due to their misalignment.
  • Suspension Issues: Suspension issues cause the wheels to bounce or vibrate excessively. This excessive bounce leads to uneven wear of the tires, which may cause feathering.
  • Aggressive Driving: Sudden brakes and aggressive driving may cause the tires to wear unevenly.
  • Insufficient Tire Pressure: Uneven tire pressure, like an underinflated or overinflated tire, may be the reason for the uneven wear of the tire.

Signs of Tire Feathering

To prevent your tires from feathering, you have to rotate and balance them regularly.

When your tires wear out or feathered, they produce one or more of the below-given symptoms:

  • Tread Depth: The depth of the tread becomes shallow as the tires wear down with time.
  • Excessive Noise: Excessive noise can be a sign of wear and feathering. This noise is created when there is excessive uneven wear.
  • Uneven Wear: If you notice uneven wear, then there must be a problem with the alignment of your car. Uneven tire wear can be due to improper tire pressure. Check for any feathering, cupping, or scalloping on the tire tread.
  • Blistering: Blistering is a sign of internal damage to the tires. These blisters and bulges can be dangerous. So, it is always recommended to change the tires.
  • Excessive Vibrations: Vibration in the steering wheel or in the whole car is one of the clear signs of tire feathering.
  • Cracking: As time passes, cracks may appear on the tires. These cracked tires are expired and should be changed as soon as possible.

Do Feathered Tires Make Noise?

Yes, tire feathering may produce a loud noise. Once the feathering becomes intense, the tread gets inflated, resulting in noise.

One of the clearest symptoms of tire feathering is noise. If you inspect the tires of the noisy car, you will notice feathering. If there is noise due to feathering, then it might be too late to fix it. That is why you should try to check the tires regularly to prevent tire feathering before it happens.

How to Prevent Tire Feathering?

tire feathering prevention

Tire feathering occurs due to bad alignment or suspension problems. So, to prevent tire feathering, you have to frequently check the alignment of your car and the suspension system. Neglecting them both can cause the tire to feather quickly.

For this purpose, get a proper car checkup from an experienced technician every year. Also, the tires should be realigned twice a year.

The early detection of tire feathering can help reverse the worn-out effect by aligning the tire accordingly. In cases of excessive wear, the only solution is to replace the tires.

Follow the below-given control measures to prevent tire feathering:

  • Ensure tire pressure is checked monthly when the tires are cool.
  • Rotate and balance your tires every six months or every 6,000 miles.
  • Measure tire pressure closely during significant temperature fluctuations.
  • Change your tires when the tread depth falls less than 4/32″ or if other limitations arise.
  • Respond promptly to tire pressure monitor alerts by adding air as needed.
  • Swiftly address any tire punctures with immediate repairs.
  • Implement regular tire rotations every 6,000 miles or biannually.
  • Periodically inspect tire tread depth using either a penny or a dedicated tread gauge tool.
  • Schedule an annual tire alignment check.

Is Tire Feathering Dangerous?

Major feathering may cause some dangerous accidents. As the tire will not be able to grip the road properly, this may lead to serious, life-threatening incidents. Usually, tires with minor feathering work like the non-feather tires. So, it is safe to drive with a minor feathered tire.

But remember, it is not recommended to ignore the feathering. When you observe minor feathering, take your car to the service center and fix the feathering. Otherwise, minor feathering may lead to major feathering.

Tire feathering usually causes some serious underlying problems that can result in many serious issues if they are not fixed.

Can Tire Feathering be fixed?

Checking the alignment of your tires with time can prevent them from feathering. Also, if you notice that there is a little feathering on the tire, you can correct the alignment before time, so your tires don’t feather more.

tire feathering fixing

The repair of tire feathering needs a professional mechanic. Unlike other fixes, you can’t fix the tire feathering yourself. Sometimes the tire feathering gets so bad that you cannot fix it. The only solution here is to change the tires.

Always correct the alignment of your car and resolve the suspension issues even before replacing the old tires with new ones. So that your new tires prevent feathering and you enjoy their maximum life.

FAQ Section

Can feathered tires cause vibration?

Yes, feathering creates an uneven tire surface or an unaligned tire that can produce noise and vibration.

What alignment angle causes feathering?

Touching the edge of each tread bar or tread block with your fingertips will reveal any feathering or scuffing, which is a sign of an excessive positive or negative toe angle.

Can I drive on feathered tires?

It is not recommended to drive on highly feathered tires. The uneven texture will not let the tires function properly. Due to the feathered tires, your car may not stop instantly right after pressing break. Due to the worn or smooth part, the tire cannot hold the road properly and may slip, which can cause an accident. Remember, if you continue driving with wear on your tires, your tires may wear out over time and cause any dangerous situation.

What Does Feathering Look Like on a Tire?

Generally, you can feel the feathering instead of seeing it. So run your hand over the tire, and feel the smooth edges or the worn-out part. If there are smooth parts along with sharp edges, then it’s feathering.

How serious is the tire feathering?

Major feathering may cause some dangerous accidents. As the tire will not be able to grip the road properly, this may lead to serious, life-threatening incidents. Usually, tires with minor feathering work like the non-feather tires. So, it is safe to drive with a minor feathered tire.

Is tire cupping different from tire feathering?

Yes, tire feathering and tire cupping are different. In the case of tire cupping, uneven wear on the tread of the tire starts to create concave scoops, similar to small cups. While tire feathering leads to angled or diagonal wear patterns that make a sharp edge on one side and a smooth edge on the other.

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