Tire Tread Wear


I bought Falken ZE-512 tires for my 2000 Volvo S40 just 13,000 miles ago. Today, my mechanic told me that the treads on the two front ones are nearly down to nothing. He was a little obnoxious and insisted I must have forgotten when I bought the tires, as it must have been more than 13,000 miles ago…but I checked the paperwork and indeed that’s when I bought them.

I live in San Francisco, it’s hilly, and I have to admit that I haven’t rotated the tires in the 2 years that I’ve had them (I just had a baby, I fell into a baby black hole of time!)…but shouldn’t I get at least 20K out of a set of tires?

The tires are no longer under warranty, do I have any case to make with the shop where I bought them?? Has anyone else had experience with these tires? Any recommendations on better tires?


You likely have no claim, Falkens are decent tires, and if the tires are worn out due to a car problem, then no tire will survive.

Worn suspension components, bent suspension components or subframes due to wrecks, potholes, rough railroad tracks, curb strikes, etc. will throw the alignment off.
A car that is out of alignment can eat up a set of tires in less than a 1000 miles.

How many miles on your car, ever been wrecked, and when was the last alignment check?
(This may be yet another example of why I always state that it is a good idea to put a car on the alignment rack every once in a while and head the problem off BEFORE it occurs.)


This specific tire has a reputation for wearing out very quickly. Typically <30k miles however its very inexpensive and decent all around tire besides treadlife.

I have a feeling your alignment possibly accelerated the fast wearing tire to wear out so quickly.


Just curious OK, how often is “once in a while” in your opinion?


Um, have you inspected the front tires yourself? Your mechanic may be on the right track but could have grossly exaggerated the situation. You must decide for yourself.

Check the front tires to try to see if the wear indicators are exposed. These are the rubber crossbars between the treads. If you can’t find them then you may have another 5000 miles to go on this pair. Or more.

See if the wear is even, edges and center. If so you have merely bought cheap tires that wear out quickly. If not then you have an alignment problem that should be corrected when you have the chance.

Finally, no tire warranty covers rapid tread wear. They are for defects only.


Well, every once in a while to me means about 35-40k miles; maybe even more often if the vehicle sees a lot of dirt, gravel, or rough roads.

Any vehicle that is involved in a “minor” wreck or has slid into a ditch should always go on the rack.
Ditto for cars that may have suffered a hard strike or repeated strikes against concrete curb markers or sidewalk curbs where diagonal parking is allowed. It doesn’t take too much of this before things get tweaked. The tire may absorb most, but not all of the impact.
When someone cuts a corner and ruins a wheel on the curb they often assume the wheel/tire is the only thing damaged, and it’s very possible some suspension parts are damaged to some degree.

Most of the time small tweaks will not be visible to the naked eye, but will show up on an alignment rack or by excessive tire wear if ignored.
Lower control arms can be a weak point and I’ve replaced more of these than I can remember. JMHO anyway and hope it helps.


I wonder if your tire wear problem may be due to not keeping the tires inflated to the proper pressure. You’ve been busy with a new baby. From your posting, you have had the tires 2 years and have traveled 13,000 miles. My guess is that you have had the car serviced once a year and between the service intervals your tires lost air. My recommendation is that when you replace the tires, invest $10 or so in a good tire pressure gauge and check the pressure once a month.


Your mechanic may have offended you, but I think you should visit him more often. Unlike OK 4450, for whom I have a great deal of respect BTW, I do not believe in putting a vehicle on the alignment rack unless there is a problem. I let my tires tell me when there is a problem by checking them periodically for unusual wear patterns. I’m sure your mechanic is trained to do this also, so about once every six months, take it in to him for an oil change and have him check all these things, like tire wear, tire pressure, other fluids, etc. In the long run, if he is a good mechanic, he will save you money by fixing problems when they are small and not so costly.

BTW, I also do not believe in rotating tires as often as the manufacturer’s suggest, unless you have AWD.