CarTalk.com Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

97 Taurus Wagon Rear Tire Cupping

There is some pronounced cupping on the tread along the inner edges of each of the rear tires of my Taurus wagon. A tire tech at Pep Boys (who was replacing the front tires at the time) pointed this out to me. He says this is caused by bad rear shocks, and he recommended changing the rear shocks.



I held off, though, because the rear shocks give no other evidence of being bad. I can bounce each rear corner of the car, and the car returns immediately to the appropriate ride height without any extra bounces. The ride seems fine, with no bottoming out or excessive bounciness or anything.



The shocks are not leaking at all. Mileage-wise, those shocks probably could stand to be replaced. But are there any other possible causes of the rear tire cupping? Or are the shocks indeed the most likely sole cause? I want to make sure that if I swap those shocks out that will indeed fix the problem so I wont end up with any more ruined tires.

Yes, the cause is likely to be bad rear shocks. However, I would suggest that you also have the rear alignment adjusted, as bad alignment can also contribute to this problem. In fact, if you just got new tires on the front, you should have a 4-wheel alignment done.

Also, those new tires should have been mounted on the rear wheels. If you don’t believe me, check the websites for the major tire manufacturers, and they will tell you the same thing.

Gotcha. I believe you. Will do. Thanks!

I would go for the 4 wheel alignment too. Had a new Buick Park Ave that the one rear tire wore so bad it was like driving on an octagon. Alignment took care of it.

VDC “nailed it” as usual. All I can add is that I agree with him 100%.

We have owned at least 12 front drivers, all bought new since our first one in 1978. Front drive cars in my experience, develop cupped rear tires when tire rotation is not carried out on time as per the owner’s manual. I have replaced rear shocks as needed on only one car, an 89 German VW with over 100K miles. It displayed the need for new rear shocks when the rear end would suddenly move sideways in jerks when it was driven on a bumpy, fairly sharp urban freeway curve. The rear shocks on all of the other cars were good for as long as we owned them.

Cupped rear tires on a front driver can develop when the car is very new.

For the record, I am guilty as charged on the count of failing to rotate my tires.

Before you go off and have the rear-shocks replaced…Go to a good independent and have them check out your shocks. Pep-Boys mechanics work on commission. They have been known to sell products/services that are NOT needed. I’m not saying you don’t have a problem…just that I wouldn’t TRUST a Pep-Boys mechanics WORD on it.