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Unusual Tire Wear @ 23K - Cupping

Old 08-24-2004, 07:10 PM
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Unusual Tire Wear @ 23K - Cupping

I have a 2004 SE that I bought in May of 2003. I recently rotated my tires for the third time (just after 22,500 miles) and noticed unusual tire wear that I‘ve never experienced on any other car. The wear was on each of the 4 tires but was more pronounced on the two tires coming off of the rear. The wear is what I’d describe as a slight cupping of the surface of the tire that contacts the road.

The Good Year tires on the SE have 4 tread grooves that result in 5 “bands” of rubber that contact the road. The wear on all 4 tires is only on the innermost band of rubber. Without looking closely, you can’t see the wear, but when you run your hand over the tread surface you can certainly feel the wear. The two tires from the rear have one cup after another around the entire circumference of the tire, but only in the innermost band. The two tires from the front have about half as many cups in that same band surface as the two tires from the rear. The only indication that I had about this problem (before I did the tire rotation) was a slight rumble at highway speeds. There was never any vibration, shaking or shimmying.

The standard answer for cupping wear is “out of balance tire” – but that cupping wear is usually across the full width of tread. The standard answer for unusual wear on one side of a tire is “inappropriate wheel alignment” – but that wear does not usually involve cupping of the tire surface.

I checked with one friend who advises: “There could be a combination of things that is causing the problem. Normally cupping is a sign of tire balance issues however if I recall, the OEM tires for your Maxima have not received rave reviews, so it may be partly inherent in the tire. All of the tires showing it on the inside would lead one to suspect camber and toe-in issues as well, but I think that is probably a second level phenomenon in this case.”

I would like to have a better idea of what has caused this problem before I take the car to my dealer and try to get it fixed. He will likely tell me that tire balance problems are not covered under the warranty. Does anyone have any other ideas? Thanks.
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Old 08-24-2004, 08:22 PM
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I thought cupping was from under inflation?
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Old 08-24-2004, 08:42 PM
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"Cupping (also called dipping or scalloping) is most common on front tires, though rear tires can cup as well. It may be a sign that wheels are out of balance or that suspension or steering system parts are worn out."

http://www.keisters.com/Abbreviation...arproblems.htm
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Old 08-24-2004, 08:55 PM
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Originally Posted by us024077
"Cupping (also called dipping or scalloping) is most common on front tires, though rear tires can cup as well. It may be a sign that wheels are out of balance or that suspension or steering system parts are worn out."

http://www.keisters.com/Abbreviation...arproblems.htm
The cold pressure on these tires was kept at from 34 to 35 psi (hardly under inflated).

I have a hard time believing that the suspension or steering system parts are worn out with less than 23,000 miles on the car, so it must be tire balance (on all 4 tires??)

Is there any reason to visit the dealer or should I just go to a good balance shop?

One thing I did not mention in first post. I recently put 4,000 miles on the car in 4 weeks, mainly on interstate highways at 65 to 75 mph before doing this last rotation.
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Old 08-24-2004, 09:52 PM
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Really strange. This is not a normal type of tire problem. The fact it is worse on the rear is unusual; most tire problems are worse on the front. The fact only the inside rib of each tire has the problem is unusual; wear problems are usually either on the outside rib, on both outside and inside ribs, or in the middle.

I would be very surprised if this wear pattern could be created by out-of-balance tires/wheels.

Are you still running on your OEM wheels?

I am tempted to say the problem is in the rear, and the front tires still show slight symptoms from when they were on the rear. But even that is not for sure. There aren't many things that can go wrong on the rear of this car.

Are you sure you have never hit a curb or pothole or otherwise imposed a hard blow, especially from the side, to either of the rear wheels? The symptoms could hint that the rear wheels may be pointed in very very slightly different directions, meaning there will be a slight but constant scrubbing in the same place on the entire circumference of both rear tires.

What worries me is that I do not remember a single other poster mentioning this exact problem on this board in the 14 months I have been reading here.

You have my sympathy, as I would have little confidence in the ability of most tire shops to properly diagnose this unusual problem on first try.


edit - But you can take some solace that you still have four tires with decent tread left after 23K miles. Very low profile tires are not noted for lasting as long as higher profile tires. I would add that I have had fine performance and long mileage from tires that exhibited slight cupping during their entire life-span.
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Old 08-24-2004, 11:34 PM
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Originally Posted by lightonthehill
Really strange. This is not a normal type of tire problem. The fact it is worse on the rear is unusual; most tire problems are worse on the front. The fact only the inside rib of each tire has the problem is unusual; wear problems are usually either on the outside rib, on both outside and inside ribs, or in the middle.

I would be very surprised if this wear pattern could be created by out-of-balance tires/wheels.

Are you still running on your OEM wheels?

I am tempted to say the problem is in the rear, and the front tires still show slight symptoms from when they were on the rear. But even that is not for sure. There aren't many things that can go wrong on the rear of this car.

Are you sure you have never hit a curb or pothole or otherwise imposed a hard blow, especially from the side, to either of the rear wheels? The symptoms could hint that the rear wheels may be pointed in very very slightly different directions, meaning there will be a slight but constant scrubbing in the same place on the entire circumference of both rear tires.

What worries me is that I do not remember a single other poster mentioning this exact problem on this board in the 14 months I have been reading here.

You have my sympathy, as I would have little confidence in the ability of most tire shops to properly diagnose this unusual problem on first try.


edit - But you can take some solace that you still have four tires with decent tread left after 23K miles. Very low profile tires are not noted for lasting as long as higher profile tires. I would add that I have had fine performance and long mileage from tires that exhibited slight cupping during their entire life-span.
Thanks for your detailed reply. I figured it was very unusual -- so much so that I'm doubtful my dealer or a tire shop will be able to solve the problem. I could not find it mentioned in older posts that I checked before posting this thread.

To answer your questions: 1) Still running with the OEM wheels and tires.

2) My wife drives the car less than 10% of the time but that would be the only time that the car could "have ever hit a curb or pothole or otherwise imposed a hard blow, especially from the side, to either of the rear wheels." I have hit a few minor pot holes while driving, but nothing that should jar the wheels that much. Have not hit any curbs.

You are certainly correct that I could have missed the cupping problem when I rotated the tires at 15K miles. It was only when I rolled the right back tire from the back to the front that I happened to notice it this time. I then went back and found the slight cupping on the right front tire. This clued me to look when I did the left side next.

Yes, there is decent tread left even with the cups in the inside rib. I'm tempted to take the car to the dealer to get other minor problems fixed and see if they have any ideas about what could be causing the cupping. I would address this as a warranty problem and see what they say.
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Old 08-29-2004, 07:09 PM
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My Maxima SE has 16,000 miles on the original tires. Within the last few thousand miles, I have developed a fairly loud road noise that is coming from the tires. I had the dealer check out the tires, and they reported that all four tires have a small amount of cupping on the edges. Nissan told me that I have to contact Goodyear, which I have done. Tires have been rotated twice. The next step is to have a Goodyear dealer check out the problem. By the way, my dealer has already performed a four wheel alignment, and the SE was within specs. With or without Goodyear's help, I will be replacing these tires soon. Any suggestions on replacement Goodyear tires, since I understand that any kind of adjustment will require that I stick with a Goodyear, Dunlop or Kelly product.
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Old 08-29-2004, 07:55 PM
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Originally Posted by pfourn1012
Any suggestions on replacement Goodyear tires, since I understand that any kind of adjustment will require that I stick with a Goodyear, Dunlop or Kelly product.
I finally got rid of that Goodyear crap (after an agonizing 8000 miles or so) and bought a set of Falken FK-451's in standard 245/45-18... It's a completely different car. They grip like Dunlop Sport 9000's, but (supposedly) offer a much longer tread life than the Dunlops (My cousin's Sport 9000's were bald after 10K miles on his A4).
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Old 09-03-2004, 02:32 PM
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Originally Posted by SilverMax_04
I have a 2004 SE that I bought in May of 2003. I recently rotated my tires for the third time (just after 22,500 miles) and noticed unusual tire wear that I‘ve never experienced on any other car. The wear was on each of the 4 tires but was more pronounced on the two tires coming off of the rear. The wear is what I’d describe as a slight cupping of the surface of the tire that contacts the road.
I went to the dealer yesterday. The Service Manager believed the cupping was probably caused by alignment problems. So I had them do a 4-wheel alignment. I always like to talk with the tech doing the work, so I walked around (outside the building) and found him working on the car. When he had finished, I asked him if he thought the alignment could have caused the cupping. He said that he certainly thought it had, given the toe and camber problems on the rear wheels. Only my rear wheels were out of alignment. Here are the details from the print-out of the alignment (all are degrees):

_____________ Specs: ____________ Left ______________ Right ____
Front Wheels: _______________ Before __ After ____ Before ___ After
Camber ____ -1.00 to +0.60 ___ -0.40 __ -0.47 ____ -0.29 ___ -0.21
Caster _____ +2.08 to +3.68 ___ 2.52 ___ 2.52 _____ 2.39 ____ 2.39
Toe _______ -0.02 to +0.06 ____ 0.04 ___ 0.04 _____ 0.03 ____ 0.04

Rear Wheels:
Camber ____ -1.17 to -0.17 ___ -0.57 ___ -0.47 ____ -1.32 ___ -0.74
Toe _______ +0.10 to +0.22 ___ -0.07 ___ +0.18 ____ -0.18 ___ +0.14

_______________________________ Total ____
Total Toe ___ 0.20 to + 0.43 ___ -0.25 ___ +0.33

Thus the toe on both rear wheels was off as well as the total toe. The right rear also was off in camber. Here is what a knowledgable friend thinks:

"Those specs could account for it, particularly if it was that way from the factory, as I suspect. The slight alignment issue coupled with a tire that does not give the best of wear is probably the sum total of the problem."

I beileve that the cupping I saw on the front tires was actually caused when these tires were on the back of the car and that I missed this problem when I rotated tires at 15,000 miles. I could not see these cups, only feel them. So my advice is to watch your tires carefully and get your wheels alligned if you suspect any problems.
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Old 09-03-2004, 02:42 PM
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Originally Posted by SilverMax_04
Here are the details from the print-out of the alignment (all are degrees): This is a modified table to make it easier to read.

_____________ Specs: __________ Left ____________ Right ____
Front Wheels: ______________ Before _ After ___ Before __ After
Camber ___ -1.00 to +0.60 __ -0.40 _ -0.47 ___ -0.29 __ -0.21
Caster ____ +2.08 to +3.68 __ 2.52 __ 2.52 ____ 2.39 ___ 2.39
Toe ______ -0.02 to +0.06 ___ 0.04 __ 0.04 ____ 0.03 ___ 0.04

Rear Wheels:
Camber ___ -1.17 to -0.17 __ -0.57 __ -0.47 ___ -1.32 __ -0.74
Toe ______ +0.10 to +0.22 __ -0.07 __ +0.18 ___ -0.18 __ +0.14

____________________________ Total ____
Total Toe __ 0.20 to + 0.43 __ -0.25 __ +0.33
I hope that this table will be easier to read by eliminating the line-wrap at the end of each line.
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Old 09-03-2004, 02:50 PM
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This new format is not as easy to work with as the old. I thought I'd taken out enough spaces to get the table to work, but the system did not take my changes to the table in the quote, and repeated the old table with all of the line wraps. So I am trying to do this again. Wish me luck.

____________ Specs: ___________ Left _____________ Right ____
Front Wheels: ______________ Before _ After ___ Before __ After
Camber ___ -1.00 to +0.60 __ -0.40 _ -0.47 ___ -0.29 __ -0.21
Caster ____ +2.08 to +3.68 __ 2.52 __ 2.52 ____ 2.39 ___ 2.39
Toe ______ -0.02 to +0.06 ___ 0.04 __ 0.04 ____ 0.03 ___ 0.04

Rear Wheels:
Camber ___ -1.17 to -0.17 __ -0.57 __ -0.47 ___ -1.32 __ -0.74
Toe ______ +0.10 to +0.22 __ -0.07 __ +0.18 ___ -0.18 __ +0.14

_____________________________ Total ____
Total Toe __ 0.20 to + 0.43 __ -0.25 __ +0.33
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Old 09-03-2004, 03:17 PM
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I'm no expert but...

Cupping is often due to a bad shock or strut. If the left side is tied to the right side via an anti-roll bar, a bad shock on the left can transfer it's negative carma to the right side too.

Why does out of allignment cause cupping? It is out of alignment through 360* of rotation. Depending on what was out of whack you could see unusual wear on the inside, outside, up the middle or in combination. But the wear would be uniformly bad around the whole tire. No?
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Old 05-26-2011, 04:21 AM
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I have same issue with rear

I know this thread is very old, but... I have the same issue with the rear tires on my 2007. Purchased used 04/09 at 35,000. Had dealership replace the 2 rear tires at that time, that they moved to front. 4-5 months later, the fronts, that were moved to rear were worn to nearly no tread. Even wear across both tires. Placed 2 more tires on car, again moving front to rear, they also checked the rear alignment at that time. Rotated once and then within 8 months, had to replace all 4 tires (2 rears worse then other 2, so I spaced out the purchase 3 mon. apart) Now, 6 months later, you guessed it, 2 tires needed for rear. Always even tire wear!
Now your asking..How many miles? I have 77,000 mi on car now. The tires aren't lasting more then 20,000 mi. And this is only because I'm rotating, Once they get to rear, I'll bet they would only last 10-12K.
The 1st 6 tires were "High Performance" tires that I'm told don't get much more then 20k so when I replaced the 4 tires in 2010 I installed Hankook Optimo H418 225/55/17 95V which I was told is a harder compound and rated at 60k. Well I got less then 20k and I'm told they don't "guarantee" this mileage.
I just have a hard time accepting 8 tires in 42k (now pricing 2 more)
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Old 05-26-2011, 04:59 AM
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Do yourself a favor to get rid off those rear OEM shocks asap and snap in either KYB or Monroe. I have screwed 2 sets of tires and both sets had uneven wear patterns on rear tires only. Over the time uneven wear tires noise will makes you think you have bad bearing. More likely it will make periodic noise like woom..woom..woom..woom while driving and also changes with speed. May be this is first time we have seen thread like this on this forum but this problem is not uncommon.

Edit: Get rid off those weak OEM end-links as well and snap in moog end links while you're at it.

Last edited by KevMaster; 05-26-2011 at 05:02 AM.
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Old 05-26-2011, 10:26 AM
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I agree with the above. I have also found that I need to have a 4-wheel allignment about every 6K miles. The rear wheels seem to get out of allignment more than the front when I have this done. This car does not hold its allignmet well.
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