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What is Tire Feathering?

Tire feathering (sometimes called tire scuffing) happens when a tire wears down at an angle – more specifically, one side of a particular tire rib or tread block has worn lower or smoother on one side versus the other side. New tires are generally molded from new with sharp edges on the tread blocks and ribs – a feathered tire will have sharp edges on one side, and rounded edges on the other.

Below, see an example of a tire showing simulated feathering wear pattern.

Tire tread pattern showing simulated feathering wear pattern.

How Can You Tell if a Tire Has Feathered Wear?

Depending on the severity of the wear, it may be difficult to see the feathered wear on a tire. However, it’s generally easy to feel the tire and notice the differences in smoothness.

What Causes Tire Feathering?

Tire feathering is possibly caused by a variety of suspension issues that may lead to misaligned wheels. Generally, the toe-in of the wheels, if out of spec, will cause the scuffing that leads to feathering. It’s possible that the alignment may be out of the specified requirements of the vehicle manufacturer – but at times there will be suspension issues such as damaged bushings or ball joints that will cause the caster, camber, and toe to change while driving.

Is Tire Feathering Bad?

Remember, tires are the only thing on your car that touch the road, which means they are one of the most important safety devices on your car. If tires are feathering, this means that the contact patch isn’t optimal, and handling could be affected.

There could potentially be deeper issues within your car should you notice feathering on your tires – ball joints, shocks/struts, or bushings may have failed, causing the toe to change while you drive.

How to Prevent Tire Feathering

If signs of tire feathering are caught early, it may be possible to gradually reverse the uneven tire wear with a proper alignment and inspection of any worn suspension components that may have caused the misalignment. However, severe cases of feathering may require replacement of the tires alongside whatever suspension repairs are needed.

Signs of Tire Wear

Regular tire rotations and balancing is always recommended to ensure that your tires are wearing properly and evenly. Your tire service professional will inspect the tires as they are removed from the car to note any uneven wear and will bring these concerns to your attention. Following a regular alignment schedule as recommended by your vehicle’s owner’s manual will go a long way to you getting all the possible mileage out of your tires.

In between scheduled tire services be sure to check your tire’s condition at the same time as your regular tire pressure checks. Easily do this while checking depth, by running your hands along the surface of the tire to feel for uneven wear patterns.

And, as always if you have any questions at all, please contact your local Goodyear tire retailer who would be happy to help you with inspecting the condition of your tires.

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