What Is Tire Cupping?
Does your tire have a bunch of dips or bumps across the tire tread? Bad tire cupping is caused by constant bouncing of the tire on the road. This bouncing enables the tire to have a bump-like wear appearance, thus creating what’s know as tire cupping noise.
When driving at higher speeds, a cupped tire may cause a rumbling or roaring noise, known as a tire cupping noise. Your car ride may also be really rough or noisy at certain speeds, due to this issue.
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These noises and rough car rides are due to the fact that the cupped tires do not allow the entire surface of your tire to come in contact with the surface of the road evenly. Causing your tire to bounce and wear prematurely.
Unfortunately there is no reversing a cupped tire. You need new tires to fix the issue.
Diagnosing Tire Cupping Noise
A cupped tire will make a similar noise to that of a bad wheel bearing. Tire cupping noise will sound like a humming or roaring coming from either the front or the rear of your vehicle. The noise depends on the affected tire and or wheel bearing.
Although a bad hub bearing and tire cupping noise sound the same, they are two very different problems. The key is to figure out which one is causing your noise.
Step 1: Tire Cupping Diagnoses
When it comes to diagnosing your tire cupping noise, start with looking at your tires.
First of all, check to see when your tires were made. Then make sure to measure your tread depth.
Look at your tire tread for bumpy tread and or dips in your tire. Run your hand across the tread of your tire. If it feels like your tread goes up and down and isn’t smooth, more than likely you have tire cupping.
The only way to get rid of tire cupping is to replace the tire.
Please note: These bumps will be constant all the way around your tire. They can be located on the outside edges or all the way across your tire. These bumps can be hard to see. Consequently, if the tread of your tire feels or looks like this you have tire cupping.
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Tire cupping noise will definitely cause a roaring/ humming noise while driving. This noise can only be silenced by replacing your tire(s).
Step 2: Hub Bearings Diagnoses
Diagnosing a hub bearing is simple and requires just a few steps.
The major difference in distinguishing between a cupped tire and a bad wheel bearing is the sound your tire makes while you turn or speed up. If you have a bad wheel bearing the noise will grow louder as you turn.
On the other hand, here are a few other ways to check your hub bearing. You will have to decide which of these procedures will work best for your vehicle. See below for our 3 different test.
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Note: The larger the tread, the more air volume, the noisier the tire.
The Wiggle Test
Jack up your car and place your hands at the 12:00 and 6:00 position on your tire. Shake the tire up and down on each wheel to see if there is any play in your hub bearing.
Please understand that you won’t always have play in your front hub bearing if it is bad. If your bearing does have play, this means it’s a more severely damaged hub bearing.
Also note, some cars like older ford trucks are made to have up and down play in the hub bearing. So, when you shake the wheel it will move, which would resemble a bad hub bearing.
The Two Person Test
To further evaluate your vehicle, you need two people.
Jack your vehicle up and have someone spin your tire while you hold on to the shock spring (located above the tire) to feel for vibrations. If it vibrates or feels weird you probably need a hub bearing.
The Jacked Up Test
Another way to check your hub bearing while all your wheels are off the ground, is to put your car in drive and listen for a roaring noise on each wheel.
Have someone press the gas pedal to get the wheels up to a decent, steady speed. Listen for a roaring hub bearing noise. Be sure to turn your traction control off before you do this.
If you drive a vehicle with 4 wheel drive, you can put it in the 4×4 mode in order to listen to the front.
WARNING: Before doing this test, know where to put jack stands for the vehicle that’s being tested.
How to Quiet Cupped Tires
When a tire is cupping, unfortunately it’s too late for it to be saved. You typically just have to buy a tire.
However, first and foremost you need to figure out what is causing the tire cupping. This determination insures that this does NOT happen to your new set of tires.
Something could be wrong with your suspension, alignment, tire balance, or you just have cheap tires.
Try putting the more severely cupped tires on the rear. When a bad tire is on the rear vs the front, you will feel and hear the tire(s) less.
Sometimes, after fixing what caused the cupped tire in the first place, your tires will smooth out some, but it’s highly unlikely that they will ever be as good as new.
So, to wrap this up, after you fix the alignment/suspension issue, you will need new tires. Likewise, if the culprit to your cupping was driving on cheap tires, go ahead and try a different brand.
Once the new tires are on your vehicle, be sure to double check your wheel alignment. This will insure you get the max lifespan for your tires.
What Causes Tire Cupping?
Do you get loud tire noise at highway speeds, or do you get loud tire noise at low speeds? Are you wondering why your car shakes when accelerating at low and fast speeds? Are your car tires causing your car to have a rough ride all together?
These could very well be a sign(s) of tire cupping. Tire cupping is when your tire is literally bouncing and only certain parts of the tire are coming in contact with the road. This bouncing causes a premature tire wear in a bump like pattern. Unfortunately, there isn’t a way to reverse the process.
The answer is a bunch of things. Here are a few examples: bad shocks or bent shocks, loose tie rod, bad struts, bad rack and pinion, bad control arm, bad alignment, driving with bad control arm bushings, driving on bad ball joints, tires out of balance, cheap tires.
Tire Cupping and Your Suspension
Your suspension helps to ensure that your tires stay firmly planted on the road. They are also in place to absorb the impact from the road.
When your suspension is worn out/broken this can cause your tire to bounce. This causes the tire to wear in a bump like pattern known as tire cupping.
For safety reasons, it’s always a good idea to make sure your suspension is in perfect working order. Additionally, this inspection insures a long tire life span.
Your shocks may only last about 60,000 miles, while your struts can last up to 90,000 miles. This number can vary depending on how you drive. Depending on how well a tire is made, certain tires can be more prone to tire cupping.
Symptoms of Tire Cupping
- Bouncing/rough ride
- Rumbling/loud noise coming from tire
- Steering wheel vibration/steering wheel shakes