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Cupping on Tires

My 2004 Camry developed vibration in the steering wheel at 70 mph. Mechanic says the BF Goodrich tires (new 10/06) all are cupping on the inside. Does anyone know the cause or solution? The mechanic rotated tires and exchanged one for the spare.

Your car needs at least a 4 wheel alignment, and possibly replacement of some parts in the front end.

Since your mechanic appears to be unaware of this reality, I suggest that you take the car to a shop that specializes in alignment work. If the car’s front end needs any repair work, they will inform you of that because an alignment cannot be done properly if worn parts are present.

One caveat–DO NOT go to Midas, Meineke, Monro, Sears, or any other chain operation as they will tell you that you need to have repairs performed even if there is no need for repairs.

Your car needs new struts, alignment, and then new tires.

Tire cupping happens when tire vibrate as they roll. That sounds simple, but the bad news is that there can be several reasons, and the problem is usually a combination of two problems. You need a good competent suspension mechanic to accurately diagnose the problem.

This vibration can be due to poor balancing, belt separation or flaws. The problem is exacerbated if the ball joints or other suspension components are worn. In some instances, the right combination of poor alighment and worn suspension can also result in vibration and cupping, even if the tires are good and correctly balanced.

Cupping is often found in conjunction with worn struts, but the worn struts are an effect rather than the cause. A few thousand miles of bouncing tires will trash the struts. Once the struts are bad, you really start to notice the problem. Replacing the struts but leaving the root problem uncorrected may be only a temporary cure.

Look for a good INDEPENDENT alignment/tyre shop and let them take a look.  I suspect you need a 4 wheel alignment, but that is difficult to tell from here.

I agree with Manolito’s post except that worn out struts can be a cause of cupping as well as a symptom. While constant bouncing from the wheel from any of a variety of causes can wear out a strut prematurely, a worn out strut can allow the tire to bounce along as it rolls over road irregularities and cause cupping.

In any event you need a good shop to check everything out. Then after the cause of the cupping is corrected, you should get new tires. Once that wear pattern is established the only way to get rid of it is to trim some tread off on a special machine. The machines used to be common 35 years ago, but I don’t know if anyone would even have one today.

As a mechanic, I can tell you that the problem isn’t in the struts. The struts are just shoch absorbers for the front-end. The cupping can be caused by the front end being out of alignment or bad ball joints. The ball joints you can check yourself. All you have to do is jack up the frontend until the tires are about 3 inches off the ground. Put jack stands under the front end so you can lower the jack. With the tires off the ground, grab the top and bottom of the tire and try to wiggles the tire up and down. If there is any movement of the tire,( other than that of the rubber itself) you ball joint is going out. You can also check your ty-rods by grabbing hold of the ty-rod and moving it. It will have normal movement, but if it is really loose, then it would be wise to have them replaced. You will need a FRONT-END alignment to correct this problem. Contrary if belief, the 4-wheel alignment corrects the alignment from front to back, not problems with the front end. BTW VDCdriver, Not all of the car repair shops you mentioned try to rob you, just because you had problems with one or two, doesn’t mean they’re all that way.

“As a mechanic, I can tell you that the problem isn’t in the struts”

Then you must not be a good mechanic. Cupping tires can absolutely be caused by worn out shocks or struts. Weak or worn out shocks/struts will allow the tires to bounce while rolling down the road causing cupping.

As a mechanic, I can tell you that the problem isn’t in the struts

It has been my experience that some really bad struts can cause the problem.

“BTW VDCdriver, Not all of the car repair shops you mentioned try to rob you, just because you had problems with one or two, doesn’t mean they’re all that way.”

You don’t need to worry about me. I know better than to patronize ANY chain auto maintenance operation.

I am mentioning that caveat on the basis of the VERY negative experiences of both acquaintances and the myriad of people who have posted their bad experiences with the aforementioned chain operations on this board.

Are you unaware of the many legal actions against Sears Auto Centers in many states?
Have you ever heard of anyone who actually got a brake job or any other repair at Midas, Meineke, or Monro for the “advertised price”?

For that matter, have you ever heard of a truly honest AAMCO, Lee Myles, or Cottman franchise? Sure, they may exist, but until someone has proof positive that a franchise or chain auto maintenance location in their area is not run by thieves or charlatans, it is better to avoid them.

Nobody leaves these places without some dire diagnosis and/or a really strong push for “upselling” of services. That is a fundamental part of their business model, sad to say.

As the Romans said, [b]Caveat Emptor[/b] !

I need to side with Willey, Joseph Meehan, and VDCdriver on this one. I have seen worn struts cause tire cupping. I also will not patronize the chain stores mentioned as their business models don’t have my interests in mind.