Mud Tire Cupping – How To Cure Tire Cupping? (Top Symptoms & Fixes)

No car moves smoothly without the tires in good condition.

Car tires are the most vulnerable feature because they can encounter a number of issues – for instance, tire imbalance, uneven tire wear, and so on.

However, the aim of this article is to discuss what tire cupping is, the various causes, and other things that drivers should know. Let’s get started.

Why are My Mud Tires Cupping?

Tire Cupping (or Tire Scalloping) is defined as a situation where car tires experience an uneven wear pattern due to the impact of the wheel – disruptive motion of the wheels.

As the wheels bounce, the tires are endangered by their contact with the road surface. Over time, the tire starts losing its rubber and eventually becomes bad.

Unfortunately, not everyone knows what tire cupping is. Well, maybe a few understand the concept but not what causes it or why it happens.

But one thing you should know is that: 

When a tire experience changes in the force when in contact with the road, your tire’s tread begins to develop uneven wear patches. Those patches are called cupping, scalloping, or feathering, or heel-toe wear.

Tire Wear – Why is Tire Cupping Bad?

Uneven tire wear has never been a good thing for vehicles. First, your car becomes difficult to control. Next, you run a high risk of an accident.

Tire cupping is an issue that needs to be fixed immediately. And the only way to do that is to work on the root of the problem.

You could try to rotate tires to even out the tread wear. 

However, if the tires are cupped pretty badly, there is reduced tread depth, which may automatically reduce traction. At that point, all you can do is get a new set of tires.

What can cause Mud Tires Cupping?

Tire cupping and vehicle suspension issues are almost similar. They are caused by the same factors which include:

Worn Suspension Parts and Shocks

Suspension parts and shocks/struts are important car components with the major role of absorbing impact on road surfaces. 

They act as shock absorbers against speed bumps, potholes, etc.

However, if these components encounter bad shocks or wear out, the wheel becomes vulnerable and liable to bounce. If that happens frequently, a cupping problem is inevitable.

Tire Imbalance or Bent Rims/Wheels

Another reason you could have cupped tires is if there is tire imbalance or bent rim/wheel.

Ideally, there are certain centrifugal forces involved in the spinning of your wheel. 

If the wheels are unbalanced, the forces become displaced, causing the tires to bounce and eventually cup.

Tire Misalignment

Apart from worn suspension and unbalanced tires, misaligned tires is another factor that could cause tire scalloping.

Wheel alignment is important for motion and if it is compromised (against factory specs), there is automatically an effect on the tires. One of such effects is cupping.

What are the Various Symptoms of Cupped Tires?

Now that you know the common causes of tire cupping, let’s take a look at the various symptoms that come with it.

With these signs or symptoms, you may be able to get the help you need against complete tire wear immediately.

Reduced Tire Pressure

One of the major signs that your tire is faulty is that there is a reduction in air pressure.

By the bouncing of the wheels, there is a likely chance that the tires could be punctured or damaged in the process, reducing air pressure and ultimately making them flat.

Constant Vibration or Shaking

Another sign that your tires are about to cup is if you start feeling vibrations in the steering wheel, car floor, or seat.

Although there are different reasons why vibrations could occur; however, if you notice shaking around these areas, it is only reasonable that you inspect and discover the problem.

Tire Noise

Like vibrations and shaking in the steering wheel isn’t enough; you could experience tire noise.

Generally, some tires are loud but if you haven’t experienced such before and suddenly, you start, you should know there is a problem.

You should check the tire tread patterns and see if they are worn out unevenly.

Vehicle Pull

Wheel misalignment is one of the major causes of tire cupping but before that happens, you may start to notice your vehicle pulling to one side.

Sometimes, a steering wheel correction may fix the issue, but not for long.

Visible Signs

Finally, you can actually tell that you are experiencing tire cupping in the front tires or rear tires by actually looking at it.

Scalloping is visible on the tire tread – an uneven wear pattern.

That is why it is often advised that you have your tires checked regularly against problems like this.

Is It Common for Mud To Cup?

Mud tires are different from other tire options because of their suspension system. This system makes them cup quite often.

Mud tires are vulnerable to issues like worn shocks, wheel misalignment, and tire imbalance. 

And the only way to limit this problem is to rotate tires frequently.

How to Prevent Tire Cupping?

Safe driving means investing in the necessary things. And to prevent tire cupping, you must be ready for proper tire maintenance which involves any of the following.

Proper rotating and balancing

One of the things you need to do to prevent the tires in the rear and front wheels from getting cupped is proper rotating and balancing.

As tyres come in contact with road surfaces, they wear gradually – even though there are variations. 

However, you need to have the wear evenly distributed by rotating the tires for the best performance.

You can try doing this every 5,000 to 8,000 miles.

Air pressure inspection

If you don’t want to have cupped tires, you should also consider checking the air pressure of your tires regularly.

Ignoring underinflated tires doesn’t do your car any good – as a matter of fact, it increases tire wear.

Alignment and Suspension monitoring

Lastly, since wheel alignment and suspension parts are factors to determine tire health, you should also have them monitored.

By regularly inspecting these car components, you can easily tell if you are about to have the tires of the front or rear cupped.

It would also help you discover the best tire balance for optimum performance.

Can Tire Cupping be Corrected?

Yes, it can. However, it depends on the severity of cupping.

If you have cupped tires, you should visit a local tire shop, so that a mechanic can help you with the best rotation – from the front to the wheel, so they could wear smoothly.

And in a situation where the cupping is noticeably worse (in one but not all tires), a tire shaving machine will be used to even the wear out.

Finally, in a situation where it affects all four tires, you should consider getting new ones. Tires that are cupped forever are useless and dangerous.

Can rotating even them out?

Yes, as long as the cupping is only minimal.

A mechanic rotates worn tires following his discretion and how he thinks it would benefit the driver for the time being – before getting new tires.

Are Cupped Tires Safe?

No, they are not.

Cupped tires are as dangerous as driving on a flat tire. 

The irregular wear pattern on the tyres poses a high risk because there is little or no contact with the road sometimes – this could cause accidents.

Moreover, these tires are noisy. They also cause reduced traction, making it impossible to drive or corner safely.


If you’ve always experienced mud tire cupping, it is high time you took maintenance more seriously. You never know when you need a tire balance or rotation.

Also, you should inspect your four tires frequently and see which of them has an irregular wear pattern. 

Pay attention to the noises and vibrations.

Finally, you shouldn’t go for cheap brands; instead, you should buy cheap tires from reliable brands. 


Dean Alvarez, TireForge Head Author

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