Troubleshooting tire wear problems starts with identifying the tire wear pattern. An inner tire wear pattern helps us narrow down the most likely causes of the problem since there are only a few common reasons that would cause inside tire wear.
Inner Tire WearInner tire wear is usually caused by poor alignment. An alignment adjustment known as camber angle is the most common cause.
Other potential causes are incorrect toe angle, worn suspension components such as shock absorbers, tie rod wear, or worn ball joints.
Tire wear that isn’t even across the entire tread surface will cause tires to need to be replaced prematurely. This is obviously an expensive problem that needs to get resolved the moment you notice uneven tire wear.
In this quick guide, we’ll explain the some common causes and fixes. Hopefully we can find out why your tires are experiencing inner tire wear.
Let’s take a closer look.
Table of Contents
What Causes Inner Tire Wear?
The main causes of inside tire wear are related to wheel alignment or worn suspension components.
Let’s break down the specific issues within each of these general problem areas.
Improper Wheel Alignment
Once wheel alignment is set properly, it shouldn’t drift. If your alignment is off, this is often due to damage caused from potholes, speed bumps, and curb strikes.
Small bends to suspension system components can cause minor alignment problems that can be adjusted back into spec. Larger problems will likely require replacement of suspension components to fix the alignment problem.
Negative Camber Angle
Negative camber angle is the most common cause of inside tire wear. Camber angle refers to the tilt of your tires when looking at the vehicle from the front or rear of your car or truck.
If the top of the tire is tilted toward the centerline of the vehicle, this is called negative camber angle. If the top of the tire is tilted away from the middle of the vehicle, this is called positive camber angle.
Some vehicles will wear on the inside edge of the tire normally due to the design of the car or truck. This is because a negative camber angle can improve cornering grip. Inner tire wear is common on sports car tires because of this.
Lowering your car or truck, if not done properly, will cause negative camber. As the suspension is modified to lower your vehicle, the tires will naturally begin to tilt inward toward the centerline of the vehicle from the top point of the tire.
Unless this is compensated for, the excessive negative camber will easily cause significant inner tire wear on all four tires.
Toe out can also cause uneven tire wear on the inside edge. Toe refers to the tilt of your tires when looking at the vehicle from the top of your car or truck.
If the front of the tire is tilted away from the centerline of the vehicle, this is called toe out. If the front of the tire is tilted inward toward the middle of the vehicle, this is called toe in.
Toe out is unusual and most cars and trucks will have a little bit of toe in to help the vehicle feel more stable. If you have enough toe out to cause inside tire wear you likely have some serious issues with your alignment and damaged suspension components that are all contributing to this problem.
Damaged Suspension Components
All suspension system components will wear out over time. As they age, they will lose their ability to hold the wheel assembly in proper alignment.
Speed bumps, potholes, and curb strikes will accelerate wear to your suspension so take care around these common road hazards to prevent future problems.
Ball joints are a critical pivot point for your suspension. There are two ball joints in your suspension – an upper and lower ball joint. A worn lower ball joint is most common.
Over time ball joints wear and will have excessive movement or play. This sloppiness in movement will allow the tire angle to drift from the vehicle’s camber angle or toe angle that should be set.
It usually takes many years or many tens of thousands of miles for ball joints to wear out. If your car or truck has some age, it may be time to have this component serviced or replaced.
As the name implies, shock absorbers are designed to absorb shocks. Over time, they wear out just like any other suspension system components. When shocks and springs begin to wear out they lose their ability to properly control the tires rolling on the pavement.
Worn shocks and springs will also cause your car or truck to ride at a lower height than designed which tends to cause a negative camber angle.
Springs and shocks are another component that takes quite a long time to begin to wear out and fail, but if you have an older vehicle you may want to have them inspected.
Tie rods are the suspension components that connect the steering rack to the steering knuckle. The ends of these connecting members have bushings that allow for some flexibility.
These bushings lose flexibility and wear over time. This allows for play and slop in the connection between the steering knuckles and tie rods. This can negatively effect toe and may also cause steering wheel play.
Tie rods can also become bent due to potholes and curb strikes. This too can cause misaligned wheels and uneven tire wear.
Control arms are one of the more critical suspension parts. They connect the wheel assembly to the vehicle frame.
Bent control arms or worn control arm bushings can cause bad wheel alignment and potentially lead to inner tire wear problems.
How To Fix Inner Tire Wear
To fix your tires, there are a few solutions. First and foremost, you need to replace your tires if they’re unevenly worn. This typically entails changing all four tires at the same time, so there’s no unevenness between the treads.
From there, you can diagnose what caused the problem in the first place. Make sure your tires are balanced, and go through a professional tire alignment after the installation.
Have a trained professional check the toe and camber angles of your tire. Use a pressure gauge to ensure all of your tire pressures match up with the manufacturer’s recommendation (found on a sticker in the door jamb on your driver’s door).
After that, check the ball joints, suspension, and arm bushings in your car. Any of these can cause your tires to wear prematurely along the inner edge.
Front Tires Wearing On Inside Only
When inner tire wear is only occurring on the front tires, this is usually a result of negative camber. This can usually be tuned out with a proper wheel alignment, but may require replacing suspension components that are worn or even bent.
Rear Tires Wearing On Inside Only
Sports cars often have negative camber on the rear axles and will cause excessive wear on the inside tread. Even more mildly setup suspension geometries may have a bit of inner tire wear on the rear tires.
You should check for excessive negative camber but should also be sure to rotate your tires regularly to help minimize the uneven tire wear and get the most life you can out of them.
Inner Tire Wear On One Side
If your only experiencing wear on one side of car or truck you may only have an alignment issue that can be solved with a simple wheel alignment. Often however, the problem is more severe and is a result of suspension component damage due to potholes, speed bumps, or curb strikes.
No matter the circumstances, all of the same potential solutions apply and will need to be tried until the tire wear problem has been solved.
Inner Tire Wear On Lowered Car
Cars and trucks that have been lowered often have camber angle problems. Improperly lowering causes your vehicle shifts the suspension geometry so much that it often can not be properly aligned. The amount of adjustment required to bring the suspension settings back into spec isn’t available and the end result is usually negative camber angle issues.
Properly lowering your vehicle may require replacing tire rods or other suspension components to allow them to properly reach the new positions and still have enough adjustment for properly aligning all of the suspension angles.
Is Inner Tire Wear Dangerous?
Bald or severely low tread depth on any section of your tire’s contact patch is very dangerous in wet weather conditions.
Without sufficient tread depth, water can not be efficiently routed out from underneath the tire and can easily cause hydroplaning.
Additionally, not correcting the uneven wear can eventually wear through the tread and expose the belts and even cause a tire blowout.
Minor inner edge wear on your rear tires is common and regular tire rotation should be used to help evenly distribute the unique wear patterns of each tire position around to all four of your vehicle tires.
Below are some links you may find helpful when learning about tires
- What are the causes of extreme inner tire wear – It Still Runs
- Tire wear patterns can be a sign of bigger issues – Metromile
There are plenty of causes and solutions for inside edge tire wear. The bottom line is that you should fix this problem as soon as you notice it — putting it off for too long can put you in danger or at least take a lot of life off your expensive tires and costing you a lot of money to replace them.
Good luck and happy motoring.