The tires of your vehicle tell a story by wearing down in different areas to indicate different potential problems. People who work with tires every day can tell you exactly what’s wrong with your vehicle depending on where your tire is worn down. We’re going to focus on tire wear on the inside of the tire, the side of the tire that hides deep underneath your wheel wells.
The most common cause of inner tire wear is that wheel alignment is out. Your camber might be set negatively causing the insides of your tires to make more contact with the road than the middle and outside. Inner tire wear can also develop from worn ball joints.
Let’s take a closer look at these most common causes of inner tire wear.
The Wheel Alignment Might Be Out
Wheel alignment refers to adjusting the angles of the wheels according to the manufacturer’s specifications. When a vehicle’s wheels are aligned properly, the tire wear should be evenly distributed throughout the tread of the tire.
When the alignment is out, inner tire wear can occur. The vehicle will automatically pull to the left or the right of the road without you touching the steering wheel. You might find yourself constantly correcting the steering wheel to stay straight on your path. If you feel your vehicle even slightly pulling to either side of the road you must have the wheel alignment recalibrated immediately as this will wear your tires down very quickly. It’s very dangerous to drive in this state as well.
You May Have A Negative Camber
The camber angle is the angle of the tire in relation to a flat road underneath it. If you’re looking at your tires from the front of your vehicle and see the bottoms angled outwards and the tops angled inwards, you have a negative camber angle.
A normal vehicle might use a negative camber angle of 0.5 to 1° to ensure optimal cornering and braking grip with evenly distributed tire wear. A camber angle more than this is not recommended for a normal street car used for commuting. You don’t need to take corners at 60mph and “normal” street vehicles aren’t designed for extreme camber angles.
If your camber is set according to the manufacturer’s specification, you should not have any inconsistent tire wear.
If you set your camber at too much of a negative angle you may suffer from the following problems:
- Your off-road driving capabilities will be reduced if not made completely impossible.
- An overly negative camber can cause your brakes or steering to lock
- With less of your tire making contact with the road, your traction on straits and control during rain will be reduced.
- If the angle is too extreme, you will wear your tires down on the insides and you’ll have to replace them more frequently.
- Your wheels could fall off due to increased wear and tear on the parts that hold them on.
These are some reasons why a normal street vehicle should not have a negative camber of more than 1° in most cases.
Your Ball Joints Could Be Worn Down
The ball joints connect your vehicle’s control arms to the steering knuckles to allow you to control the direction of the wheels as you’re driving. Inner tire wear can be the cause of worn ball joints. If you feel that your vehicle is turning to the left or right by itself when passing over bumps in the road, your ball joints may be worn down.
If your vehicle does loose control in this way you need to have the ball joints checked to avoid catastrophe from losing control.
A Bad Wheel Bearing
A wheel bearing is a set of balls held together by a metal ring inside the wheel. Wheel bearings enable your tires to spin consistently with as little friction as possible. A defective wheel bearing can cause uneven inner tire wear.
Worn Out Tie Rod Ends
A tie rod connects the wheels of your vehicle with the suspension and steering components for your vehicle to be able to steer. Tie rods can be worn out through general use, bumpy roads, or speedbumps. If tie rods wear out, they don’t hold your tires in the correct position and can definitely cause inner tire wear.
Defective Control Arm Bushings
Control arms are the parts of your vehicle that control the upward and downward movement of your wheels while preventing forward and backward movement. The control arm bushings are the components that give the control arms the ability to move so if they’re worn down they can cause your tire to wear down inconsistently.
Worn Out Trailing Link Bushing
Trailing arm bushings connect the pivot and axle point on your vehicle and make up the trailing arm suspension of the vehicle. Front trailing arms have bushings that are attached to a bolt running through them and hold the trailing arm onto the chassis. If your trailing arm bushings are worn out they could put your suspension out of alignment and cause inner tire wear.
Underinflated tires will cause wear on the inside of your tires and the outside leaving a strip of healthy tread in the middle.
Make sure to check your vehicle manufacturer’s tire pressure recommendation on a sticker inside the door jab of your car. Monitor the tire pressure on a regular basis to save yourself from punchers, blowouts, or loss of control.
What About Tire Wear On The Middle And Outside?
Tire wear in the middle of the tire
If you notice your tires wearing out in the middle, it could be caused by over-inflating. Double-check your manufacturer’s recommendation or ask at your service station what their recommendation is for your specific tires and vehicle.
Tire wear on the outside of the tire
One of the main causes of tire wear on the outside is aging coil springs. They begin to drop down causing the whole suspension to drop and become misaligned.
Wear on the outside of your tires could be caused by a positive camber setting. This is a setting that will position the tops of your tires outwards from the vehicle and the bottoms of your tires inwards.
Tire Care Advice To Prevent Inconsistent Tire Wear
Have your alignment checked
Get your alignment checked at least once a year and always after you’ve hit anything hard with your front wheels like an open manhole or anything else that has caused a big shock to the wheel system.
Keep your tires at the correct pressure
Over or underinflated tires will cause inconsistent tire wear. You can find the manufacturers recommended tire pressure on a sticker inside the door jab while the door is open. You may also find this sticker inside on the trunk lid, in the fuel hatch, or in the console. The recommended pressure for normal passenger vehicles is usually between 30 and 35 PSI.
Rotate your tires
Rotating your tires help to even out the wear on the tread of your tires. The front tires on a front-wheel-drive vehicle go through a lot more wear and tear than the rear tires. We also take left turns a bit quicker than right turns on average. Rotating your tires will prevent you from replacing your front tires long before needing to replace the back tires.
Make sure your wheels are balanced
Making sure your wheels are properly balanced will ensure a smooth ride and consistent tire tread wear.
Tires are getting more expensive every year and looking after them properly can go a long way in preserving their valuable tread. Since tires are what connect our vehicles to the road, they are the most important parts of your vehicle to maintain and replace when necessary.
You can have the safest car in the world but it won’t prevent you from crashing if your tire wears down and blows out on the open road.
Check your tire tread at least every week to make sure it’s not wearing down inconsistently as this always indicates another fault with the vehicle in some way. Don’t just replace the tire, make sure to remedy the cause as well.