What Causes Front Tire Cupping?

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The most common cause of front tire cupping is worn, bent, cracked or otherwise damaged suspension components. Some front tire cupping also occurs when the given wheel is out of alignment. Another possible cause of this phenomenon is unbalanced wheels, although this is rarely the sole cause.

Front tire cupping is a pattern of tire wear that features a series of shallow, scoop-shaped depressions on one side of a tire. Cupping is sometimes difficult to distinguish from the wear pattern caused by unbalanced wheels. In most cases, cupped tires do not develop bald spots between the center and either edge of the tread. Tires that manifest both scalloped cupping depressions and bald sections may indicate that the vehicle has worn suspension parts and balancing problems.

Regular tire inspections are the best way to notice cupping early before it destroys the tire. Worn springs, shock absorbers, wheel bearings and other suspension parts need immediate replacement to avoid further damage to the tire and the entire suspension system. Tires that display mild cupping require balancing, and those with a more extensive cupping pattern must also be swapped with another of the vehicle’s tires. Realigning the wheels at this time reduces the likelihood that the cupping is soon to recur.