How to read tire wear?
The way your tires wear is a good indicator of other parts of your trailer. Abnormal wear patterns are often caused by the need for simple tire maintenance, or alignment. Tires should be inspected at every opportunity; once a week isn't too often. Learning to read the early warning signs of trouble can prevent wear that shortens tire life or indicates the need for having other parts of the trailer serviced. Tires should be inspected 3 ways. First, visually examine all tires; second, feel the tread by hand to detect wear such as feathering and third, check all tires with a pocket type pressure gauge. See the tire wear chart below for wear patterns and possible causes.
There are several reasons why your tires could be wearing. To name a few of the most common reasons:
- Your tires are underinflated. The outside treads will be worn as there is too much contact with the road by the outer treads, which wear prematurely. Always check your tire PSI to make sure it matches the recommended PSI on your VIN sticker or Tire Identification sticker. The recommended PSI can also be found on the side wall of the tire.
- Your tires are overinflated. The center treads will be worn as the tire is riding on the center of the tread and wearing it prematurely. Always check your tire PSI to make sure it matches the recommended PSI on your VIN sticker or Tire Identification sticker. The recommended PSI can also be found on the side wall of the tire.
- You are overloading your tires. If the weight you are towing exceeds the capacity of your trailer you are overloading your tires as well. The inside tread will wear faster than the rest of the tread on the tire. You can have your boat and trailer weighed at a scale to make sure you are not overloading your trailer. To determine the weight of your trailer versus the weight of your boat once you have it scaled you will need to figure out the empty weight of your trailer. To do this, refer to the VIN sticker on the frame of your trailer. The GVWR is the empty weight of the trailer plus the capacity that the trailer is rated for (also known as the MAX GVCC ). For example, if you have a VATB-5225 with a VIN sticker that states the GVWR is 6175lbs. The MAX GVCC is 5225lbs. Therefore, by doing simple math, you can figure out what the empty weight of the trailer is by taking the GVWR – MAX GVCC = empty weight of the trailer. In the example of the VATB-5225, the GVWR is 6175lbs. Minus the MAX GVCC of 5225lbs equals 950lbs empty weight.
- You have bent suspension parts. In this scenario, the tire will have cups or scalloped dips around the edge of the tread on one side or the other. This usually indicates you have worn or bent suspension parts that connect the wheel to the trailer such as bearings, springs, bushings, etc. Inspect the suspension parts on your trailer for wear or bent items.
- Your axle is out of alignment. The treads have a condition called feathering. Feathering is a condition when the edge of each tread rib develops a slightly rounded edge on one side and a sharp edge on the other. By running your hand over the trailer tire, you can usually feel the sharper edges before you'll be able to see them. Use the forms below to check your alignment.
Here are three helpful tools for checking your alignment based on if you have a single axle, tandem axle or triple axle spring trailer.