Some cupping on my 1997 (25K miles) Nissan Quest

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Posted by Michael Hosea on August 08, 1999 at 03:33:55:

I just bought a 1997 Nissan Quest with about 25K miles. The tires look a little too worn for that mileage, but these are the General Tires, which I don't think much of since the experience I had with my 1988 Cavalier. Anyway, the front-right tire shows some visible signs of cupping on the outer edge. The tread is worn more on the edges in 4 or 5 places than in others. The other tires, including the rear tire on the same side, show less wear on their outer edges, and I can't be sure if there is any cupping at all. Both tires in the left seem to look a little better. None of the tires show me anything of concern in the middle of the tread.

I have no information about past tire rotations. There is no unusual tire noise at low speeds, but I think I can hear the effects of the cupping at higher speeds. The vehical does not pull one way or the other. There is not much vibration in the steering wheel (there is some irregular vibration). I can feel a little more (apparently road-related) vibration in the gas pedal than I am used to, but this is subtle.

I'm curious as to the likely causes of the cupping and what to do about it.

My own musings are as follows. The tires are surely inferior, soft at least, and I am tempted to replace them with something like the GoodYear Regatta before they are worn out just to get a better/safer ride and to avoid potential problems with the Generals as they wear out. This is my wife's vehicle, after all. My instincts tell me that the cupping COULD be a sign of a suspension problem or rear-wheel misalignment, but the right-front tire could be simply more out of balance than the others. Both right-side alloy wheels show a few blemishes on the rims, probably from scraping a curb, but the look of it does not suggest impact or even much pressure--I doubt any of the wheels are bent. Perhaps there is a slight misalignment, or perhaps the previous owner had a propensity for taking left turns a bit faster than right turns.

What do you think? Is it worth it to have the 4-wheel alignment checked (this isn't free; it takes time; and the car doesn't pull)? Or would it be reasonable to just replace the tires with some good quality tires and see how it goes?

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