Uneven Tire Wear: Three Common Reasons

By Vlad Samarin November 26, 2023
Uneven tire wear Uneven tire wear.
Uneven tire wear can signal underlying issues affecting your vehicle's performance and safety. In this article, we'll look into common causes of uneven tire wear and consider practical solutions to ensure your tires wear evenly for a smoother, safer ride.

1. Improper Tire Inflation:

Tire inflation plays a crucial role in maintaining even wear. When tires are not properly inflated, it can cause uneven wear patterns.
  • Underinflation: Low air pressure causes the tire's outer edges to bear more load, resulting in accelerated wear of the outer sections of the tread.
  • Overinflation: Excessive air pressure concentrates wear at the center of the tire, causing the middle section to wear faster.
Solution: Maintain proper tire pressure based on the vehicle's specifications. You can find the recommended tire pressure on the tire placard that is typically located on the driver's door jamb. For most cars, the recommended tire pressure ranges between 29 and 36 psi.

2. Misalignment Issues:

Wheel misalignment occurs when the angles of the tires are not within the manufacturer's specifications, leading to uneven tire wear.
Two main causes of misalignment include:
  • Impacts: Hitting potholes, curbs, or other obstacles as well as even minor accidents can knock the wheels out of alignment.
  • Normal Wear and Tear: Over time, components like bushings and springs may wear out or become weaker, contributing to misalignment.
Signs of incorrect wheel alignment: Look for signs such as uneven wear on one side of the tire, pulling to one side, or a steering wheel that isn't centered when driving straight. If the vehicle doesn't hold the straight straight lane and wanders from side to side or shifts sideway when driving over bumps it also could be caused by misalignment issues

Solution: Schedule a professional wheel alignment to check and correct the wheel angles if needed. Cost: Wheel alignment services typically range from $50 to $120, excluding additional repairs. Before doing the wheel alignment, mechanics also do basic check of the suspension components. If there are problems with the suspension or steering that discovered during the alignment. they will need to be addressed.
Common suspension problems that can cause tire wear include:
  • Shock Absorber Issues: Damaged or worn shock absorbers can affect tire contact with the road, leading to uneven wear.
  • Sagging Springs: Especially at the back of the car, sagging springs alter the vehicle's height and alignment.
  • Worn Suspension Bushings: Rubber bushings in various suspension parts such as control arms tend to wear and become weaker, altering the suspenson geometry.
Signs of bad shock absorber include excessive bouncing, unusual noises, or instability while driving.
Cost: Suspension component replacement costs vary but may range from $100 to $500 per component.

Sagging Springs: The common sign of sagging springs is when one of the sides of the vehicle or its rear end sits lower. Sagging rear springs in vehicles with independent rear suspension often cause increased wear on the inside of rear tires. Replacing sagging springs will cost $700-$1500 for a pair in an average car. Consult with the mechanic if it's worth it. From our experience, many motorists opt to live with it as long as the vehicle is safe to drive. Replacing sagging springs helps restore proper suspension geometry.

3. Lack of Tire Rotations:

Uneven tire wear can result from neglecting regular tire rotations, causing specific tires to bear more load than others. A common sign of a lack of tire rotation is significant difference in wear pattern of the front tires compared to rear tires.
Solution: Ensure that tire rotations are performed at recommended intervals. Cost: Tire rotations are a standard part of routine maintenance and incur minimal costs.

Summary: Regular tire maintenance, alignment checks, suspension system inspections, and consistent tire rotations are essential for ensuring even tire wear, prolonging tire life, and maintaining optimal vehicle performance. If you notice signs of uneven wear, taking proactive measures will contribute to a safer and more cost-effective driving experience.