Have you noticed your car rattling and vibrating lately? You might have cupped tires. This common issue is known for making driving bumpy and for causing a loud noise while driving.
It can also make driving more difficult and dangerous, and is typically a sign of other, more serious issues. The grinding noise particularly is one of the most notable issues associated with cupped tires, and can become louder and more aggressive over time.
But don’t worry! This article will show you how to identify tire cupping, as well as how to fix it and how to quiet cupped tires. We’ll also give you some information about the risks of cupped tires, and how to prevent the issue from happening in the future.
What are Cupped Tires?
So what is tire cupping? If you don’t already know, it is a common issue that many drivers experience. Cupping (or scalloping) on tires is when the tire bounces and doesn’t touch the road evenly.
You’ll be able to see if your tires are cupped – this usually looks like there are gouges taken out of the rubber at 3-4 inch intervals. The treads will also have bumps and dips worn down into them. It can be harder to see this if the cupping is on the inside of the tire – for instance if your wheels have a negative camber.
Other signs of cupped tires are an increased rattling while driving that you can feel in your seat and/or steering wheel, and a grinding sound that gets louder when you drive at higher speeds. If you notice any of these signs, your tires could be cupped.
What Causes Cupped Tires?
There are several reasons why your tires might be cupped. Misaligned or unbalanced wheels, improper suspension or shock absorption, and under-inflated tires could all be the cause of cupping. To find out what’s making your tires cup, the best thing to do is take your car to a mechanic.
Cupped tires symptoms can include several issues that affect driving, such as excessive vibration and a grinding noise that gets more severe at higher speeds. Cupped tires can also reduce the handling of your car, and make turning more difficult.
If your tires are cupped it’s best to get a professional to take a look to see what’s causing them – simply replacing your tires won’t help if the issue is with your suspension.
Your tire problems could be an indicator that something else is wrong with your vehicle.
How To Quiet Cupped Tires?
One of the major problems caused by cupped tires is a loud growling or grinding noise, which gets worse while driving at faster speeds. If you can’t see a mechanic for a while or just want to reduce the noise your tires are making, don’t worry – there are ways to make them quieter.
The first thing you need to do to quiet cupped tires is to figure out what’s causing the issue. If the issue is with the suspension, the alignment, or the caster, you’ll need to get this fixed as soon as possible.
If the issue is with the tire itself (either due to low pressure or a cheap tire) then there are ways to lower the noise without an urgent fix. As long as the cupping isn’t too severe, you will still be able to drive on the tire.
If you’ve got a garage air compressor you could make sure your tires are properly inflated. That will already have a positive effect to quiet cupped tires.
Correcting your alignment, wheel balancing and suspension will also help. A worn wheel bearing could also be contributing to whining sounds you hear from your wheels.
Vehicle noise is cumulative so it could be a combination of sounds all adding up to annoy you. Buying a performance muffler or even the best additive for quieting engine noise could help quiet things down a low.
Strut noise is also a common source of vehicle noise. Worn out struts are also one of the reasons your tires end up cupped to begin with.
While it won’t help cupped tires, even something simple like installing a quiet electric fuel pump can help to quiet your car.
If you’ve tried all these things and the noise is still bugging you then you either need to replace them or try some other options.
Will Cupped Tires Smooth Out?
Unfortunately, when a tire is cupped there’s no easy way to undo the cupping. Typically you would need to replace the tire. However, if you caught the issue early enough and there is minimal cupping, don’t scrap the tire just yet.
As long as the cause of the issue is fixed and the tire doesn’t have a large amount of scalloping you may still be able to drive on it just fine.
Just be aware that if the issue persists you will need to replace your tire as soon as possible. And of course, always listen to your technician’s recommendations.
Can a burnout fix cupped tires?
It’s not a great idea but if you’re desperate you could give it a try. You’d need to put the tire on one of your driven wheels, depending on whether your vehicle is rear or front wheel driven.
Keeping your foot on the brakes and the gas will burn some rubber and could, in theory, flatten the cupping out a bit. You should probably choose a remote area to do this. Your neighbors won’t be so happy to have more than the usual traffic noise through the window.
You’re better off taking your tires to a tire repair workshop though. If the cupping isn’t too bad they can often grind or shave the tire a bit to even the cupping out.
Does tire cupping cause vibration?
Tire cupping does cause vibration but it may not be the reason you’re experiencing vibration when driving. It could also be due to wheel balancing or your suspension. It could also be a combination of things including cupped tires.
Depending on what is causing the cupping, switching the positions of your tires may help reduce the noise and vibration. Moving a cupped tire from the front of your car to the back can lessen the noise and the bouncing, while not requiring a new tire straight away.
You should also make sure that your tires are inflated properly. Not only will this stop the issue from escalating as quickly, but fully inflated tires are also going to be making the correct contact with the road more often. Just make sure not to over-inflate your tires – this will cause wear on the middle of the tire, causing more cupping and increasing your risk of a blowout.
If you’ve resolved the cause of the cupping, your tire might also smooth itself out after a short time. While the tire won’t be as good as when you first got it, the vibrations and noise will resolve themselves over time.
If you know how to balance a tire yourself, this is another way to lessen the grinding sound. Cupping caused by wheels that aren’t properly balanced will only increase over time. Balancing your wheel will lessen the wear and tear on your tire, reducing the cupping and, by extension, the noise.
While there are ways to quiet cupped tires, don’t think that everything is all sorted. Unless you know for certain that the tire is the cause of the issue, you can do more damage to your car in the long run.
This puts yourself and others in danger. Additionally, unless your tire is mostly fine after the reason for scalloping is found and fixed, you’ll be at a greater risk of an accident. If you aren’t sure why your tires are cupping, you should take your car to a repair shop as soon as you can.
Ways to Avoid Cupped Tires
If you don’t have cupped tires yet, or want to avoid it happening again, there are several ways you can prevent your tires from getting scalloped.
If you notice any unusual rattling or noises, you should get your car checked at a repair shop straight away. This will not only stop the issue from getting worse, but you may also find a more serious issue that would lead to cupping.
You should also make sure your car is getting the upkeep it needs. Keep your tires inflated to the right level. You should check the air pressure in your tires once a month.
Keep an eye out for bouncing and vibration that might indicate suspension issues. Not only will improper suspension cause scalloping, it can also lead to other, more serious problems.
Poor suspension or wobbling tires are a major risk, particularly when driving fast or on bumpy roads. If you notice any bouncing and vibration, get your suspension checked. You may be able to stop scalloping before your tires get the chance to wear down.
Another way to lower the risk of cupping is to avoid buying cheap or unreliable tires. While you don’t need to break the bank for the best tires on the market, buying a sturdier tire will help avoid cupping and keep you driving smoothly. Getting a better tire will cost you a lot less than fixing your whole car if the cupping gets worse.
Tire maintenance can save you a lot of money in the long run.
Are Cupped Tires Safe To Drive On?
While you can technically still drive on cupped tires if the overall condition of your tire is still good, it’s important to know the dangers cupped tires can cause.
Because tires with scalloping aren’t consistently making contact with the road’s surface, cupping can lead to reduced handling, especially while making turns. You also have less grip, both due to the bouncing and the lack of contact with the road. This can get particularly bad when driving at higher speeds, and you might slide when making sudden stops.
Can cupped tires cause damage?
Cupped tires will create vibrations throughout your car. Not only can this be uncomfortable and make your grip on the steering wheel less secure, but long periods of rattling can also damage other parts of your car and lead to more problems down the road (pun fully intended).
And while the loud noise might not be the biggest problem on its own, it’s a sure sign that something isn’t right. If you notice the sound changing or worsening, it is crucial that you take your car in for an examination.
So now you know what causes tire cupping, what you can do to reduce the noise, and the best way to prevent any more issues. Remember: quieting your cupped tires is only a temporary solution.
If the issue is ongoing, make sure to get your car checked by a professional. Quieting your tires is great if there isn’t any major scalloping and you’ve gotten the cause fixed, and will help with both the noise and vibrations. As long as it’s safe to do so, you can try the steps here to keep them quiet.