What causes uneven tire wear?

If your tires are unevenly worn, there could be a number of causes.
Posted On May 2, 2021
By Integra Tire Canada

Your vehicle’s tires are arguably the most important part of your vehicle because they’re where your car meets the road. That’s why it is critical your tires meet a minimum recommended tread depth. Tread depth is the measurement of your tire’s tread, from the top of the rubber on the tread to the bottom of the tire’s deepest groove, typically measured in 32nds of an inch. A new tire usually starts off around 10/32″ and over time will wear down. Once your tread depth is nearing 2/32″, it’s time to get a new set of tires.

Many people measure their tread depth in the middle of their tires, but it’s critical to check more than one area to ensure your tires aren’t wearing unevenly.

What is uneven wear?

In a perfect world your tire tread would wear evenly, but this is often not the case. Although this commonly happens on the inside tread of your tires (towards the vehicle cabin), it can also happen on the outside of the tread, or even directly down the center of your tread.

Some examples of uneven tread on the edges and centers of tires.

Possible Cause 1: Wheels Are Out of Alignment

If your tires are unevenly worn, you may be in need of a wheel alignment. The “alignment” of the various steering and suspension components in your vehicle affect how your tires make contact with the road. Over time, with normal use of your vehicle, your alignment can become out of spec, causing your tires to contact the road improperly.

To illustrate it simply, see the below example of an improper “camber” angle both inward and outward. The red circles indicate where the most contact with the road is made, causing these points to wear prematurely on one or both sides of your vehicle.

A wheel alignment is the process of adjusting these angles so your vehicle makes proper contact with the road.

If you do need an alignment, you’ll likely notice other signs including shaking in your steering wheel or your vehicle pulling to one side when you want to drive straight.

Possible Cause 2: Improper Inflation

Another possible cause of uneven tire wear is that your tires are not inflated to the correct pressure. It’s important to use the recommended PSI for your vehicle, ensuring your vehicle is always making optimal contact with the road.

This is best illustrated in the below image. When a tire is underinflated, the outer edges of your tread will make the most contact with the road, and thus, will wear sooner than the center patch. If your tires are overinflated, the center patch will balloon outwards and you will make less contact with the outer edges of the tread. At the proper inflation, your tire will have equal contact on all parts of the tread.

Possible Cause 3: Failing Steering or Suspension Components

Your vehicle’s steering components are responsible for turning your wheel toward the direction you turn,  returning it to a straight position afterward, and keeping them straight as you travel. These components are often susceptible to wear and result in “looseness”, meaning your tire may lean toward one end or the other.

One example of a part that is extremely susceptible to causing uneven tire wear is your outer tie rod end. Your tie rod end is a joint connected to your wheel assembly; it transfers force from your steering rack to your wheel. If the tiny rubber bushing around it is punctured or wears, it will lose critical lubricants and the joint inside will eventually fail, causing your wheel to fall out of alignment.

Many of your suspension components have similar rubber boots that can tear and cause the same issue.

Diagnosing The Problem

If you notice uneven wear, contact your local Integra Tire today about getting an inspection. Your technician will visually inspect your vehicle, remove your tire to test your steering and suspension components, check your alignment, and perform a road test to diagnose the cause. Your service advisor will explain the cause of your uneven tire wear and put together a repair solution that works for your budget and needs.

Questions? Our Advisors are Happy to Help!

If you have questions about anything you've read in this resource page, contact your nearest Integra Tire dealer for more information. We are passionate in assisting our customers make the best choices to keep their vehicles in tip-top shape and keep their families safe.
Resource Tags: alignment , integra tire , suspension , tire wear , tires
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