Hundreds of thousands of miles are lost through the early discard of truck tires every year. Maintenance of your truck should begin with the tires, but often people don't realize the opportunities they're missing when they unnecessarily replace tires. The tires, of course, are tossed for multiple legitimate reasons: shoulder wear, cupping, punch wear, scalloping, flat spotting and more. All preventable reasons, but once those tires are thrown into the landfill, it’s too late to find the cause of the wear. The tire still needs to be on the truck in order to figure out where the problem lies.
Tires speak volumes about the condition of your truck. Throwing them out is a good way to lose a lot of clues behind any problems that may be occurring, especially if the tires seem to be wearing out more quickly than they should. In fact, irregular wear can usually be seen in the first 20% to 30% of the tire's life, so regular maintenance checks should be able to catch the wear early and determine its cause.
There are many factors that could be attributed to shortened tire life, but the main suspects tend to be misalignment of any of the truck’s axles, bad suspension or steering pieces, suspension and shock-absorbers that are broken or loose, imbalance of any extreme amount, or poor inflation pressures (either being too high, or too low). All of these issues are preventable with proper care of the truck, and in the end will save you a lot of money on tires (and other issues that could crop up in the future) if you fix them as soon as you start noticing the problem. Of course, you should always check the tire mounts themselves for loose wheel bearings or worn wheel mounting studs, and to make sure the tires are mounted correctly.
Each of these issues leave a signature wear pattern on the tread. Tire wear tends to be viewed as the problem when it is in fact just a sign of the actual problem. You shouldn’t have to replace the tire, what you should do is fix the cause of the problem itself.
Be sure to be thorough in all your checks. Have your trucks serviced by those that are trained to pick up on the signs your tires tell. If you're noticing unusual wearing, bring it up with your mechanic and give your truck a complete check-up.