What Causes Uneven Tire Wear? 5 Common Issues

Tire maintenance is one of the ten basic car maintenance that you should learn as a car owner. The condition of your tires affects your handling, suspension, braking, and overall safety on the road. In this article, let’s look at what causes uneven tire wear.

What causes uneven tire wear?

Over time, your tires will gradually wear off along with their overall performance. Aside from the date of manufacture, one thing to consider in changing tires is their tread wear condition. Always check the tread depth of each of your tires at least once a month.

Related: How Much Does a Tire Rotation Cost? Top 3 Best Tire Service Centers

Furthermore, you can see issues with other car components by looking at your tire’s wear condition. If you have observed uneven tire wear in your car or having to change tires so soon, it may be due to the following:

1. Loose or worn suspension components

Uneven tire wear can be a sign of worn struts or shocks. If you have a bad strut, your car won’t be able to absorb bump impact. The uneven impact will also result in uneven tire wear. Likewise, a faulty shock can slip and slide a car on the road.

As a result, your tires will have uneven wear because they are not always equally touching the ground. Moreover, a bad ball joint or broken spindle can also cause your tires to wear off unevenly. The tires may have more tread left on the inner part than the outer part.

2. Worn out or leaking steering components

 If you noticed that your tires are more worn on the inner or the outer part than the rest, it may be due to a rack and pinion problem. If you have a faulty steering system, you’ll experience rough tire control and unstable wheels. Steering problems may be linked to worn-out struts and shocks as well as the misaligned wheel.

3. Misaligned wheels

As mentioned above, having misaligned wheels can cause problems with your car’s handling. To ensure optimal contact with the road, have the wheels realigned routinely. It ensures optimal handling, longer tire life, and a smoother ride.

Watch out for any vibration in your seats, or the steering wheel is pulling to one side, and of course uneven tire wear. If these happen, it’s time for wheel alignment.

4. Tires are out of balance

Your tires can’t drive evenly if they are out of balance. Likewise, it can make your tires wear down at different rates, resulting in irregular tread wear.

Further, some tires can wear out sooner when your tires are out-of-balance because of the vibration and uneven tread wear. Consequently, this can cause bald spots on your tires, making it difficult to steer, especially at high speed.

5. Improper tire inflation

If you inflate your tires correctly, it will evenly distribute the force from the car to the road. However, under-inflated and over-inflated tires can cause irregular wear on your tire’s tread.

If you notice that the wear is concentrated on the center, then your tires are overinflated. Further, your tires are underinflated if the tires are worn out on the sides than the center. 

6. Bent or broken wheels

Finally, bent or damaged wheels, can also cause uneven wear on the tire’s tread. The uneven surface will cause vibrations in your tires as you drive.

If you have recently driven through a pothole and other rough road conditions that may damage your wheels, check them for any bends, dents, and breaks.

Uneven tire tread wear patterns

Here is an infographic to illustrate what causes uneven wear on tires:

results for uneven tire wear

How to prevent uneven tire wear

The key to making your tires last longer is to prevent uneven tire tread wear. Instead of just buying a new set of tires, consider finding the underlying cause and have it fixed. If you see irregular wear on the tire tread, act on it immediately because it is crucial to your safety. The causes listed above directly affect your handling and road stability.

Although you cant prevent worn-out tires from the normal process, you can limit premature or uneven tire tread wear:

1. Avoid potholes and puddles

Driving through a pothole in the road could end in costly car damage. As discussed above, it can be bent or broke your wheels. Moreover, it can also knock your tires out of alignment and damage your suspension components – these are the underlying causes of uneven tire wear. If you can’t avoid a pothole, make sure to slow down while checking your rearview mirror before braking.

2. Regularly check the pressure of all your tires, including the spare

Do this at least once a month or before going on a long trip with an extra load. Both overinflation and underinflation may result in irregular tire tread wear as previously discussed.

Because every car and tire has a different pressure requirement, always check your manual to find the correct tire pressure. You can also look for the door tag/sticker.

3. Fix the underlying cause

The key to preventing uneven tread wear on your tires is regular maintenance of your car. Have a wheel balance and alignment check at least once a month.

Wheel alignment is crucial because manufacturers design the suspension so that tires operate well for stable handling and tread wear. If you suspect any damage in one of your car’s components, have it checked immediately.

The common issues associated with uneven wear on your tires are poor handling and road stability. Tire centers and auto repair shops have a balancing machine to determine how the tires are unbalanced. The time and money that you invest in regular maintenance are worth it.

The following Youtube video from Lou Trottier is an excellent explanation of wheel alignment and balancing.

Key takeaways on uneven tire wear patterns

The condition of your tires affects handling, the quality of ride, braking, and of course, your overall safety.

Over time, your tires will gradually wear off along with their overall performance. If you have observed uneven tire wear in your car or having to change tires so soon, it may be due to issues with other car parts such as loose or worn suspension, worn out steering components, misaligned or bent wheels, and uneven tire pressure.

If left unchecked, these issues can cause difficulty in steering especially at high speed. Good driving habits and regular car maintenance can prevent unusual tire tread wear. Always check your cars and fix the underlying cause immediately. It will not only save your tires but also keep you safe on the road.

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