Tires Are Like Shoes

Our marketing department likes to say that tires are like shoes. This is a good analogy as winter tires are like boots and Extreme Performance Summer tires are like running shoes. While this analogy works well in explaining traction, it doesn't exactly apply to tire noise.

In advising drivers, we often find that the root cause of their excessive tire noise is heel-to-toe wear. What is heel-to-toe wear? Taking a look at my running shoes can help explain.

Notice how the back of each "tread block" is worn more than the front? If your noisy tires have a similar wear pattern, you've got heel-to-toe wear.

How do your tires develop heel-to-toe wear? As your tires roll, the front of each tread block gets compressed, and the back of each tread block wears faster. If you simply rotate front-to-back, this will not help - you need to change the direction on travel by crossing when you rotate.

Obviously, tire engineers are aware of this issue and try to stabilize individual blocks as they design the tread. If your current tires have heel-to-toe wear, it's best to pick a non-directional tire as your replacement choice. Your installer can cross-rotate non-directional tires without having to dismount them. So, if your heel-to-toe wear noise is driving you crazy, look for a non-directional tire and rotate them every 5,000 miles.


Friday, July 28, 2017 by Howard Russell

Confused about heel and toe wear. If I understand correctly as the tire block contacts the road the rear of the block wears more than the front of the block. ( the rear of the block contacting the road first)
Is that correct?
Thank you
Thursday, August 3, 2017 by Cy

Heel and toe wear can occur in either “direction,” with the leading edge of the block or the trailing edge exhibiting more wear. It depends on which force is the dominant cause of the wear. If acceleration is the primary cause of the irregular wear, the “front” or leading edge of the tread blocks will exhibit greater wear. If the condition results from braking force, the “back” or trailing edge of the tread blocks will be more severely worn. Heel and toe wear is a result of the tires continually rotating in one direction, so if a tire is left in the same wheel position due to insufficient rotation intervals, it increases the chance of developing this irregular wear condition. A contributing factor to the occurrence and severity of heel and toe wear is the toe setting of the vehicle’s alignment, so in addition to regular rotations, it is important to check vehicle alignment.
Thanks. Cy

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