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Tire replacement question

I’d like some input on the situation with my tires. I’m curious as to people’s thoughts about what caused my problem and the proposed solution.

I recently got my tires rotated, which was probably a mistake, since it was the first time since I got them about 40,000 miles ago. (If I’d left them alone I’d at least have continued to have a smooth ride.)

Anyway, I found out that one of rear tires was chopped (now front), which, after rotating the tires, causes my car to now run a bit noisier and with a noticeable vibration at high speeds.

To me this means I need to replace my two front tires (since that’s where the chopped one now sits). The thing is, if the tire was on the back previously, how did it get to the condition it’s in? I was under the impression that alignment issues only affected the front tires, but it’s the formerly rear tire that’s chopped. (Unless I have a bent axle or something, but I’d think that would be pretty noticeable by the service techs.)

I’d considered simply rotating the tires back, but since one of them is a replacement for a flat (I ran over a bolt about 5-7 thousand miles after I bought the current set of tires.) So I have 3 Goodyear Allegra tire and 1 Goodyear Viva replacement. The replacement is now one of the front tires, which is why I’m considering replacing the front tires rather than rotating them back. I think it’s possible that the different tires may be part of the problem that caused the chopping.

Chopped?? That’s a new one…You mean uneven wear in a scalloped pattern usually around one edge?

Viva is a Walmart private label tire…40,000 miles? you must be getting close to needing a full set. In today’s lawyer world, they won’t put a pair of new tires on the front. They will only mount them on the back. YOU can move them to the front when you get home if you want to…

The scalloping (chopping) is usually caused by a slight out of balance condition and weak struts which allow the tire bounce on the pavement…

33-40,000 on tires before rotation is a pretty good trick. If 3 out of 4 of my tires were good enough to rotate at 40,000 I would be thrilled. I would replace the fronts, check the struts/ shocks/ springs, and drive off happy. I had a nissan Altima that wore its rears strangely and found that two sand bags in the trunk made the ride smoother and extended tire life by 10,000 or so on two sets of cheap tires, this with no rear passsengers.
Given the condition of my truck, my advice should be suspect.

Chopped is the word they used, but you’re correct in assuming that it’s essentially uneven wear. Unfortunately, I’m not sure of the profile of said wear as I haven’t taken been able to get the details, but if I take my car in to get the tires replaced I’ll get them to check in greater detail then.

Why wouldn’t they replace just two tires? Any why, if they did, would they want to put them on the back? My understanding it that it’s not exactly uncommon, or it wasn’t anyway. My dad used to replace tires in pairs as they wore out, since, by my understanding, when you don’t rotate tires, the front and back tires don’t get the same amount of wear (specifically, the front tire wear faster if I remember right). In my case, my rear tires should have something in the order of 15-20 thousand miles left in terms of tread (Allegra’s are 60,000 mile tires), which considering my car’s age is really all I’m likely to need. (As for the Viva, according to my records I got it about 30,000 miles ago.)

Since it’s probably scalloping (though, I still intend to ask for greater detail), would it be worth getting them to look at the balance/struts?

The “chopping” (new word for me, too!) was caused by misalignment and aggravated by lack of rotation and insufficient inflation pressure.

So get an alignment. That will fix the cause. If you don’t, your current rear tires will become the same way your fronts are now!

Then you have 2 choices: Live with the problem, hoping that the new position will wear a new (and better) pattern into the tires. This could take many thousands of miles.

  • OR -

You could replace the tires - either 2 or all 4. If you replace only 2, the new ones should go on the rear. Then you will have a problem with rotating tires (different states of wear!) and the best tires shouls always be on the rear.

Replacing 4 allows you to rotate regularly - which will prevent the problem you encountered.

After 40k miles, I would’ve just replaced them all. I probably wouldn’t use tires that are sold exclusively at Wal-Mart/Sam’s Club. To me that just screams “These tires are built to a price.” Tires and brakes are two places where it doesn’t pay to be cheap.

Most front drive cars have rear suspensions that are designed for the weight of passengers and luggage and then are driven most of the time with neither. This makes the rear bounce causing the cupping wear you see. The only answer is frequent rotation.

Well, I’ve gone ahead and replaced the front two tires. And I’ll take the advice to rotate the tires more often. I considered rotating the rear tires back to the front but decided to hold off until it’s time to rotate them again.

The car ride is now noticeably better. There’s both less road noise and less vibration due to the uneven tire tread.

As one who owns a Saturn, only rotates the tires once during their life, and is on the third set of tires for this vehicle in 218 k miles, and they are fairly new, (84 k on oem, 101k on first replacement, 33 k current with little wear) your problem could be that when you had the tires rotated, they changed the direction of rotation of the tires.

In a typical rotation sequence, the front tires go to the back on the same side, but the rear swap sides as they come to the front, or visa versa. I suspect the former was your case. When the tires swap sides, they now rotate in the opposite direction that they were broken in at, and this can damage the tires.

I rotate my tires when the fronts are down to 6/32" tread depth, only rotate back to front and front to back, same side. They all finish wearing out about the same time.

The Saturn has an independent rear suspension, so it should be aligned if you think there is a problem with tire wear back there. Fortunately mine has never had to have the wheels aligned, got lucky with this one.

From oldtimer 11 Quote: “Most front drive cars have rear suspensions that are designed for the weight of passengers and luggage and then are driven most of the time with neither. This makes the rear bounce causing the cupping wear you see. The only answer is frequent rotation.” Unquote

This is the first rational explanation that I have seen to cover what has happened with our front drive cars since we bought our first one in 1978 and have owned at least 10 total. I can’t say that I have seen the lightly loaded rear tires on a front driver bounce to leave the pavement but it is for certain that they could approach an extremely lightly loaded condition while going down the road over rough spots and bumps. For me, a front driver’s rear tires have developed scallops or cupping unless rotations were done. I have seen this with cars bought brand new after 10,000 miles and ignored rotation so worn shocks/struts are not a satisfactory explanation.

To anyone who has raised a rear tire of a front driver with a jack, you know how lightly loaded the back is.

Very good Mr. oldtimer 11. I’ll go with this unless someone can explain better otherwise.

I got stung twice by ignoring rotation and consequent scalloped, noisy tires so it has been burned into my punkin head that tire rotation with a front driver can not be ignored as it could with rear drivers. I have also found that narrow tires which are mostly gone now, will correct themselves over a few thousand miles after rotation to become quiet again while wide tires stay noisy.

Consistent tire rotation is the only truly effective, preventive measure for this problem. Rotate your tires every other oil change, or about every 6-7k miles. This will keep the rear tires from cupping, or “chopping” in Walmart TLE lingo (I have heard this term before, from someone who used to work at a Walmart TLE, so maybe it’s a Walmart thing). This condition is common on lightweight FWD cars, and the only preventive measure is to run them on the front from time to time, before they get bad enough to annoy you. New struts may help, but I doubt it will eliminate the problem.