Are you noticing that your car’s tires are wearing out faster than usual, especially on the inside (closer to your car’s center)?
Over time, some cars start to show what’s referred to as inner tire wear. At best, this reduces the life of the tire but if you let it go on long enough, you’ll experience poor handling which can be a huge safety issue.
But what exactly causes inner tire wear and what can you do to prevent it from happening?
Related: Causes of Outer Tire Wear
Driving With Inner Tire Wear
If you notice a bit of inner tire wear on your car, you might be wondering if it’s safe to drive. The answer is… it depends.
How much wear are you seeing? Do you still have any tread on the inside?
A bald contact patch will make it much easier to hydroplane when it rains. Even if you have deep tread on the outside of your tire, you may have to throw your tires out early if the inside is worn down too much.
If you notice the inside of your tire is worn down to the cords (where you can see metal or white spots showing through the tire rubber), you should be very careful. Avoid driving on a tire that’s worn down to the cords.
What Causes Inner Tire Wear?
There are several factors that can cause the inside of your tire to wear faster than the outside. Fortunately, many of these are pretty straightforward to diagnose. Here are a few ideas to help get you started on maximizing the life of your tires.
1) Improper Wheel Alignment
One of the primary causes of inner tire wear is improper wheel alignment. A poor alignment could take many forms, but inner tire wear typically comes from a combination of excessive negative camber, and sometimes too much toe.
When the vehicle has too much toe, the tires don’t point in the same direction, which drastically accelerates tire wear.
Negative camber means the tires lean inward at the top. A little negative camber is a good thing, and is commonly used on sports cars for better handling. However, excessive wear occurs on the inner edge when you have too much negative camber.
Regular wheel alignments are necessary to ensure proper alignment angles. Periodic alignment checks and adjustments by a professional technician will help maintain optimal tire wear and prolong tire life.
See Also: What Causes Tire Cupping?
2) Suspension Issues
Faulty or worn out suspension components can also contribute to inner tire wear. When suspension parts become damaged or worn (such as ball joints, steering racks, or control arm bushings), excessive play may develop on one or more corners of the vehicle. This leads to uneven tire wear and vague or sloppy handling.
Regular inspections of suspension components can help identify any wear or damage early on. Prompt replacement of worn parts will help restore proper alignment and prevent excessive inner tire wear.
3) Overinflation or Underinflation
Maintaining the correct tire pressure is crucial for optimal tire performance and longevity. Both overinflation and underinflation can result in uneven tire wear.
Overinflation causes the center of the tire to bear the majority of the load, while underinflation causes the outer edges to wear faster. Regularly check tire pressure using a reliable tire pressure gauge and adjust it to the manufacturer’s recommended levels.
It’s important to check the tire pressure when the tires are cold, as heat generated during driving can affect the pressure readings.
4) Aggressive Driving Habits
Aggressive driving wears tires far quicker. The more work your tires have to do to grip the road, the faster they wear. Aggressive driving behaviors such as sliding the car, locking up the brakes, rapid acceleration, and taking corners at high speeds can cause excessive stress on the tires.
Anything that makes smoke or noise, such as burnouts or making the tires squeal, will wear your your tires very quickly. This additional tire load could lead to uneven wear, including inner tire wear. This is particularly true if your car doesn’t have the best alignment.
Adopting a smoother driving style, avoiding sudden maneuvers, and maintaining a safe driving speed will help reduce unnecessary stress on the tires. By practicing defensive driving techniques, you can extend the life of your tires and minimize inner tire wear.
5) Improper or Late Tire Rotation
Tire rotation is an important maintenance task that ensures even wear across all four tires. When tires are not rotated regularly, the front tires tend to wear more on the inner edges due to the added stress from steering and braking. This is particularly true on front engine cars, which tend to carry more weight over the nose of the vehicle.
Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for tire rotation intervals. Most tire rotation intervals fall between 5,000 to 8,000 miles. The way you rotate your tires will depend on whether or not you have directional tires. Regularly rotating the tires will help distribute the wear evenly and minimize inner tire wear.
See Also: “Check AWD System” Warning
Can I Do an Alignment Myself?
It is possible to do an alignment at home using nothing more than jack stands, wood blocks, and string. This method is typically very time consuming and not for the faint of heart. Some car enthusiasts attempt to tackle this on their own, but not many.
There are special wheel alignment turn plates you can buy as well, but these tend to be fairly expensive for a full set. Some people make their own turn plates out of pieces of cardboard with angles marked on them with a permanent marker.
Alignments are really tricky to get right for the home mechanic, and are typically best left to a professional tire or alignment shop.
Can I Work on My Own Suspension?
Most suspension work is something you can tackle in your own garage if you are mechanically inclined. Struts or coilovers are easy to replace for the home mechanic, and typically involve a few bolts. It might be a good idea to have a helping hand in case you need to muscle the struts or shocks out of the lower control arm.
If you want to tackle some suspension work on your own, here is an article to help get you started.
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