Uneven wear on tires

ArrowFlyer86

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The Little Arrow That Could
I got new tires in 2020 and recently I noticed that my right main is wearing substantially more than my left (flown 475h in plane since new). I'm planning to replace both tires in the next couple months so I can start fresh.
I suspect that I'm slightly harder on the right brake, maybe inadvertently touching the toe-brake on takeoff when I'm putting on right-rudder... curious if that explanation would make sense? Or would there be another likely culprit?
The last dozen flights or so I've been particularly mindful of this on takeoff and touchdown to try and make sure I'm applying as evenly as possible (touchdown seems like less of an issue).

On that note -- I've never done research on tires/tubes. If I'm having them replaced are there any recommendations on kind/brand to use? Or does it not make a difference...
 
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Could your gear leg be slightly off-line, not putting the tire flat on the ground?

Fly Babies can have fixed landing gear, but the axles can take a slight bend, which moves the wear slightly off center. Periodically, we swap the tire around to put fresh rubber on the wear area.
1691684923213.png
Ron Wanttaja
 
That's a good question. Visually it looks OK to me, but I'm not sure if that's the best test?
I've never flipped the tires around so they've presumably been worn routinely in the same way over and over.
I'll take a photo today to compare the mains and see if that can help at all...
 
That's a good question. Visually it looks OK to me, but I'm not sure if that's the best test?
I've never flipped the tires around so they've presumably been worn routinely in the same way over and over.
I'll take a photo today to compare the mains and see if that can help at all...
I suspect the difference would be on the order of a couple degrees or so; not going to see that looking at it or on a camera. If you've got a angle-measurement app, you might compare the the angles of the main struts.

Best bet would be to have the A&P check this during the gear test on your next annual. Don't know anything about Arrow gear (or ANY sort of retractable gear for that matter) but dollars to doughnuts says there's a rod somewhere that sets the angle, and said rod will be adjustable in length. The A&P should have the landing gear rigging information, and he or she should check it out.

Short answer is, I don't see this as being pilot related, unless the rigging is messed up by a bent rod after a hard landing. The tire wear is a gear rigging issue, and can best be corrected while the plane is on jackstands during the annual.

Ron Wanttaja
 
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On that note -- I've never done research on tires/tubes. If I'm having them replaced are there any recommendations on kind/brand to use? Or does it not make a difference...
I'm no help on the question of why one might wear faster than the other, but I'll comment on this. The flight school here at CMI uses Air Hawk tires on everything (Archers, Arrows, and Seminoles). They're one of the cheapest available, and they hold up as well as the expensive ones according to the mechanics. If they're good enough for them, I figure they're good enough for my plane.
 
Or would there be another likely culprit?
While a heavy foot or dragging brake can cause uneven wear so can a gear out of alignment. As I recall most Pipers/Cessnas have alignment checks in the manuals.

Alignment rarely gets checked anymore and people tend to live with it just like an electrical system that eats batteries every 2-3 years.
 
OK. I'll throw out a thought.
If we fly alone, we are probably sitting on the left side of the aircraft. I weigh about 200 so that means there is more force acting vertically on the left gear. If the frictional coefficient is the same for both tires, the one with more force acting perpendicular to the runway's surface will win the battle and cause the other tire to skid a bit if they are not tracking the same path. My guess is that there is a little bit of toe-in or toe-out causing the wear. Is the wear even across the tire or is it more on the inside or outside of the tread area? Btw, my right tire wears a bit more than the left and I flop it on the wheel when needed. If you play with split wheels, don't forget to let the air out before unbolting the wheels halves. ;)
 
Wheel bearings with too much preload can cause more wear.

A dragging brake caliper can cause tire wear. That might be due to a very sticky caliper piston, or to a master cylinder that is not fully opening the system to atmospheric pressure when it's released.

A habit of landing in a slight crab can beat up the leading tire.

As noted, riding the brake on takeoff, or any time, eats tires.

Air Hawk tires are made by Specialty Tires of America. Formerly McCreary. I found them horrible. The thickness of the carcass at the tread root is absolutely minimal, leading to easy blowout if someone skids a worn tire. For years I bought Condor tires; they're made by Michelin in Thailand, or at least they were 12 years ago when I last bought them. Had very good service out of them in the flight school. Much sturdier than the Air Hawk stuff which is Chinese, I believe.

STA's tailwheel tires were also terrible, on the level of a cheap handcart tire.
 
Odds are you're hitting the brake to compensate for p factor on takeoff. That would do it.
 
1691717457423.png

Like I said, I don't know any more than what I'm told. My plane had Goodyear Flight Custom III's on it when I bought it, and I couldn't tell any difference, although I will say that my new nose wheel tire squats more than the old one did. I will also say that I avoid Chinese tires as much as possible (to the extent of paying $800 each for steer tires on my truck instead of the $300 Chinese option), and am certainly glad to see my Air Hawks are apparently US made.

Interestingly I have a few of the "American Farmer" branded tires around here; no idea it was the same company.
 
I’d get it jacked up and check to make sure the wheel spins freely and that there’s no significant play/noise from the bearings. Then If that’s fine make sure you’re not accidentally tapping the toe brake on takeoff/landing.

rule out the easy to check stuff first basically
 
I reverse my tires on their rims every annual - the wheels come apart for inspection anyway, so it’s no extra work.

For tires, I find Desser Monster retreads wear like iron. No bad experiences with them to date. Michelin AirStop tubes are worth the extra money.
 
IIRC no one has mentioned tire pressure.

Generally a slow leak will cause wear on the outside edge.

When you check pressure have you noticed a difference right/left?
 
I got new tires in 2020 and recently I noticed that my right main is wearing substantially more than my left (flown 475h in plane since new). I'm planning to replace both tires in the next couple months so I can start fresh.
I suspect that I'm slightly harder on the right brake, maybe inadvertently touching the toe-brake on takeoff when I'm putting on right-rudder... curious if that explanation would make sense? Or would there be another likely culprit?
The last dozen flights or so I've been particularly mindful of this on takeoff and touchdown to try and make sure I'm applying as evenly as possible (touchdown seems like less of an issue).

On that note -- I've never done research on tires/tubes. If I'm having them replaced are there any recommendations on kind/brand to use? Or does it not make a difference...
I had air tracs on my plane when I bought it, they were ozone cracked so I replaced them with air hawks because they were a couple bucks more. I flew them for 4 years and approx 1800-1900 landings til they were 90% bald. Never went flat and I was happy with them.
I replaced them 14 months ago with Dresser monster retreads because they had deeper tread which made the tire a little taller.
Dan Thomas is right that the air hawks were really thin when I took them off. I was concerned a little about the weight. Wornout air hawks weighed 8# and the monster tires were 16#, lost 16# useful load. But I really noticed how much better the heavier tire handled on rough turf runways. I guess lighter is not always best?
I'd also recommend the monster retreads.
IMG_1965.JPG
 
Thanks for all the comments. Sorry was traveling for a few days.

Sounds like the takeaways are:
- Get it up on jacks and make sure it spins freely
- Have gear alignment checked at annual - since it might be an overlooked aspect of the inspection
- Heels on floor (I suspect I might be tapping right brake a just little on takeoff)
- Be a little more diligent on checking tire pressure (I visually inspect it for inflation before flying, but I don't frequently pop the cap off the side and check the pressure).

Here's a visual of the type of wear, if helpful at all in figuring out the type/cause of wear.

Left main:
1692040966213.png

Right main: this is a shot of the right main which is a bit generous TBH; if I spun the tire 90* you'd see more spots that look worn (I should have done that).
Most of the wear is on the outer (towards the wingtip) side in case that's helpful info. I previously didn't pay attention to that until people asked here.
1692040998442.png
 
Great pictures. Here's my take-away:
1692047704832.png
Toward the bottom of the left main, there's a wear area that goes almost all the way across the tire. This is likely a landing "chirp," or maybe a short-lived lockout of the brake.

As you discussed, the wear mark on the the right tire is mostly on the inboard side. This does seem to say that the tire isn't hitting the surface flat with the runway. I'm still in the "slight rigging adjustment to right main needed" category.

Ron Wanttaja
 
Great pictures. Here's my take-away:
View attachment 119818
Toward the bottom of the left main, there's a wear area that goes almost all the way across the tire. This is likely a landing "chirp," or maybe a short-lived lockout of the brake.

As you discussed, the wear mark on the the right tire is mostly on the inboard side. This does seem to say that the tire isn't hitting the surface flat with the runway. I'm still in the "slight rigging adjustment to right main needed" category.

Ron Wanttaja
Appreciate the second pair of eyes on it!
Question: you say the wear mark is mostly on the inboard side. I'm not familiar with that phrasing w.r.t airplanes. The wear marks across 1 groove on the right main are on the side of the tire that's closer to the wing-tip (further away from the wing root). Is that referred to as inboard?
 
Appreciate the second pair of eyes on it!
Question: you say the wear mark is mostly on the inboard side. I'm not familiar with that phrasing w.r.t airplanes. The wear marks across 1 groove on the right main are on the side of the tire that's closer to the wing-tip (further away from the wing root). Is that referred to as inboard?
I had my orientation wrong. Outboard refers to toward the wingtip, inboard is toward the fuselage.

Ron Wanttaja
 
Heels on floor for takeoffs AND landings :)
 
Heels on floor for takeoffs AND landings :)
I am thinking I was bad about that early on? Because I heard that many times while training, to the point that I repeated it out loud on every take off until my CFII buddy broke me of the saying after I had many hours.

IMO to the OP what he is seeing is normal wear and it is time to buy new tires sooner than later.
IMO flipping them on the rim to get more wear out of them is not worth the risk of the old tube not laying flat inside the tire since it has taken a set. If you go new tubes then you might as well go with new tires.
Any idea how many landings are on those tires?
 
I am thinking I was bad about that early on? Because I heard that many times while training, to the point that I repeated it out loud on every take off until my CFII buddy broke me of the saying after I had many hours.

IMO to the OP what he is seeing is normal wear and it is time to buy new tires sooner than later.
IMO flipping them on the rim to get more wear out of them is not worth the risk of the old tube not laying flat inside the tire since it has taken a set. If you go new tubes then you might as well go with new tires.
Any idea how many landings are on those tires?
Wheel bearings with too much preload can cause more wear.

A dragging brake caliper can cause tire wear. That might be due to a very sticky caliper piston, or to a master cylinder that is not fully opening the system to atmospheric pressure when it's released.

A habit of landing in a slight crab can beat up the leading tire.

As noted, riding the brake on takeoff, or any time, eats tires.

Air Hawk tires are made by Specialty Tires of America. Formerly McCreary. I found them horrible. The thickness of the carcass at the tread root is absolutely minimal, leading to easy blowout if someone skids a worn tire. For years I bought Condor tires; they're made by Michelin in Thailand, or at least they were 12 years ago when I last bought them. Had very good service out of them in the flight school. Much sturdier than the Air Hawk stuff which is Chinese, I believe.

STA's tailwheel tires were also terrible, on the level of a cheap handcart tire.
All of Specialty Tires of America’s products are made in the United States with quality American workmanship at facilities in Indiana, Pennsylvania and Unicoi, Tennessee.
 
I’m looking into tires myself, targeting the annual 9 months away. I’ll have to look in the books, current tires are 8-10 years old, came with the plane. They are Michelins, good tread but now showing light cracking in the grooves.

When I bought my previous plane, a Warrior, the tires were all buggered up. It was either inadvertent braking, or slipping on ice then locking them up. I got new tires pronto.
 
IMO flipping them on the rim to get more wear out of them is not worth the risk of the old tube not laying flat inside the tire since it has taken a set.

With care, that should rarely be a problem.

Suggestions:

1) Sprinkle some tire talc, or my choice, baby powder, into the tire before inserting the tube, and,

2) Inflate to, or slightly above, the recommended pressure, deflate, then inflate back to the recommendation pressure.
 
With care, that should rarely be a problem.

Suggestions:

1) Sprinkle some tire talc, or my choice, baby powder, into the tire before inserting the tube, and,

2) Inflate to, or slightly above, the recommended pressure, deflate, then inflate back to the recommendation pressure.
Good advise and I have been taught the same.
In this picture you can see the old tube has taken a "set" from the rim. Would make me a little uncomfortable hoping that set would not be a problem when re mounted.
IMG_21031.jpg
 
IMO flipping them on the rim to get more wear out of them is not worth the risk of the old tube not laying flat inside the tire since it has taken a set. If you go new tubes then you might as well go with new tires.

I can see flipping them on the wheels every 3 years or so. The prices of all these things are so out of sight that trading some man hours to save some $ seems like a must.
 
So I decided to get all tires and tubes replaced. Was trying to get it done last month but it didn't work out. Now it's finally getting done.
I'm going to ask and make sure the tires spin freely (as recommended here) and bearings are OK. Alignment will be checked at annual.

These were the tires they recommended putting on. Are these comparable quality to the Desser Monster retreads you guys recommend, or think I should specifically ask for those?
1695935976898.png

Curious, do all these items seem reasonable for a tire replacement? It's my first time doing it... Any recommendations on other things to ask for?
1695935963753.png
 
I picked up some Dresser retreads and no leak (stop leak? Whatever) tubes at OSH this year but yet to put them on. Do call them and discuss your plane before buying as I got new for the nose and regular retreads on the mains due to how my gear retracts. Monster retreads are a no-go on retracts.
 
I picked up some Dresser retreads and no leak (stop leak? Whatever) tubes at OSH this year but yet to put them on. Do call them and discuss your plane before buying as I got new for the nose and regular retreads on the mains due to how my gear retracts. Monster retreads are a no-go on retracts.
I appreciate the heads up on that!
 
Going through a main tire replacement now. The inner portion of the tires had worn down enough that the outer grove was no longer visible, so replacement was necessary. I thought it strange the tire would wear that way. However, when the new tires were mounted, and I took a few steps back to check the work the reason for the wear became obvious.

I have a low wing airplane with dihedral. However, the landing gear is mounted 90deg to the wing. So in a normal landing, the inner part of the tire touches the ground first, thus getting more wear. Those advocating rotating the tire on the rim periodically are on to something as this was my first thought after that "ah ha" moment.

I would think a similar thing would happen to Cessnas with spring landing gear only the excess wear would be on the outer portion as upon landing the spring gear tends to move outward. Or in other works, the outer portion of the tire touches first, thus getting more wear.

Not and A&P but I did stay at a Holiday Inn. LOL :cool:
 
So I decided to get all tires and tubes replaced. Was trying to get it done last month but it didn't work out. Now it's finally getting done.
I'm going to ask and make sure the tires spin freely (as recommended here) and bearings are OK. Alignment will be checked at annual.

These were the tires they recommended putting on. Are these comparable quality to the Desser Monster retreads you guys recommend, or think I should specifically ask for those?
View attachment 120953

Curious, do all these items seem reasonable for a tire replacement? It's my first time doing it... Any recommendations on other things to ask for?
View attachment 120952
I had a main tire replacement on a taxiway at JVL and it was $400 IIRC, tire tube and installation. Do you have someone to install it or are you going to do it yourself? Might be easier to call the FBO there and see if they could do it for you, guessing it would cost $1100-1200 for the 3 and you don’t have to chase parts or install yourself. With shipping and taxes your quoted prices might be very similar.
 
Curious, do all these items seem reasonable for a tire replacement?
Yes. And the tire selection is good also.

Or you can be a cheap skate by requesting only the tire/tube replacement and to leave the bearing grease alone as the annual will be performed within the year.;)
 
Yes. And the tire selection is good also.

Or you can be a cheap skate by requesting only the tire/tube replacement and to leave the bearing grease alone as the annual will be performed within the year.;)
I'll skip being a cheap skate for once.. Haha.
Thanks for the guidance on it, appreciated!
 
…Curious, do all these items seem reasonable for a tire replacement? It's my first time doing it... Any recommendations on other things to ask for?
View attachment 120952

Yes. Gotta jack the plane to get the wheel off. The bearings aren’t sealed, so it’s 0.2 to clean and repack the bearings. The brakes are right there and inspected in another 0.1.
 
The bearings aren’t sealed,
Oh, yes they are. Just not very adequately. Still using felt seals even in new Clevelands, except for their nosewheels, which use nitrile seals now.

Greasing that felt is important. If it's left dry, it absorbs and transmits water into the bearing.

Automobiles stopped using felt seals in maybe 1915? Leather ruled until the 1950s or '60s, and I was selling truck axle seals in the early 1970s that were still leather. Synthetics took over after that, and they were so good that oil-bath became the norm for trailers. Oil lubricates more consistently and cools far better.
 
Nirile seals are available for the mains as well now, I have them on all my Clevelands now on my 172.
 
Just got the mains/nose tires and tubes replaced. Only issue they saw was the LH main pads were worn down pretty far so we replaced those.

I only had a brief taxi back to the hangar but I noticed a brake groaning sound that seemed to be coming from the left main when I applied significant pressure at low speeds. Normal?

He advised breaking them in just a little bit (no pun intended) and let him know if the sounds continue.
 
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