Modern cars have become capable of amazing speeds while also giving you a smooth and quiet ride, along with a plethora of creature comforts inside. They are also much safer than before, equipped with numerous airbags inside and autonomous systems that can stop or steer the vehicle for you in case of emergency.
But even if you have the safest car on the road with the most advanced safety systems, it won't achieve anything if you have bad tires. And I am not talking only about cheap tires here (which are also bad), but about tire maintenance. For instance, inner tire wear is an issue that plagues many tires that are rolling on the roads today, yet only a few drivers are doing something to solve the issue.
Inner tire wear might look harmless, but it's an issue that you should immediately act upon. Basically, it means that the inner side of the tread is wearing faster than the outer tread. And by the inner tread, I mean the part that is facing the suspension components of your car, not the outside. So, in some sense, inner tire wear is just irregular wear, albeit on one particular area.
Just like with irregular wear on other parts of the tread of the tire, inner tire wear can lead to serious safety issues. However, it can also indicate serious issues with your vehicle's suspension, alignment, or other components. In some cases, you could also be the culprit!
But why do tires wear only on the inner area? What really causes the issue, and what can you do about it? In this article, I'll take a closer look at inner tire wear, including its causes, symptoms, and how to prevent it. By understanding the factors that contribute to inner tire wear and taking the necessary steps to address them, you can help prolong the life of your tires and keep your vehicle performing at its best.
Let's dig in!
Exploring the Causes of Inner Tire Wear
Numerous causes can lead to inner tire wear, which is why I strongly recommend bringing your vehicle to the nearest repair shop to diagnose the issue. Still, if you are inclined to assess it yourself, here are all factors that can lead to inner tire wear.
1. Camber and toe angle
Misaligned wheels will almost certainly lead to irregular tire wear. If you notice inner tire wear, the most common culprit is positive camber. Some positive camber is good for performance, but too much can hurt your vehicle's handling and damage the tires.
Negative camber is an angle adjustment of the wheels where the top of the tire leans inward from the center of the vehicle, and the bottom of the tire leans outward towards the road. This can cause wear on the inner edges of the tires, including inner tire wear. This is especially true on hellaflush cars with stretched tires, which run at extreme camber angles to achieve that slung look.
However, excessive toe-in or toe-out can also cause irregular tire wear. Toe refers to the difference between the distance across the front of the tires and the distance across the back of the tires. If the front of the tires is closer together than the back, the vehicle has "toe-in," and if the front of the tires is farther apart than the back, the vehicle has "toe-out." For inner tire wear issues, you should be looking if your wheels have "toe-out" problems.
2. Suspension woes (damaged components)
There is a thing in cars that's called "suspension geometry." Basically, it means that every suspension component was designed to give your vehicle optimal handling, comfort, and tire wear. If one of the suspension components is damaged, the whole suspension geometry will be broken, leading to stability issues but also inner tire wear.
The most commonly damaged part that could lead to an inner tire is worn ball joints. These joints connect the steering knuckles to the control arms and allow the wheels to move up and down as the suspension travels. When ball joints wear out, they could cause the wheels to move out of alignment and lead to inner tire wear.
However, bad control arms can also lead to inner tire wear. Much like ball joints, the control arms help control the movement of the wheel. Your vehicle's control arms are usually very tough and don't go bad that easily, but the bushings with which they connect to the wheel can wear out. When that happens, it can cause the wheels to move out of alignment and contribute to inner tire wear.
Furthermore, bad shocks can also lead to inner tire wear. The shocks on your vehicle control the movement of the wheels and ensure a smooth ride and continuous tire contact with the road. Thus, when shock absorbers become worn or damaged, they can cause excessive bouncing, leading to uneven tire wear, including inner tire wear. The springs can also cause inner tire wear, as they can cause the vehicle to sag on one side.
Knowing this, damaged struts, which are a combination of a shock absorber and a spring in one package, can also cause inner tire wear.
Underinflation can cause the tire to sag and the inner sidewall to flex excessively. This can lead to increased friction and heat buildup, which in turn can cause the rubber to break down and the tire to wear out prematurely, especially on the inner edge.
But underinflated tires can lead to all sorts of other issues, like worse handling and stability, higher tread wear, damaging the tire's internal components (belts and plies), lead to tire bulges and tread separation, and more.
4. Driving too aggressively
Driving aggressively puts a lot more stress on your tires. It can also overheat certain components of the tire and wear the tread faster due to abrasion. And by driving aggressively, I mean maximum acceleration, hard cornering, and hard braking for prolonged periods.
It is important to note that most cars aren't designed to be driven at 100% all of the time, and that's even true for sports cars. They are still road-focused machines and not track-ready race cars. Hence, most fast cars are equipped with max-performance summer tires from the factory, which are designed to give you excellent grip and responsive steering on the road.
However, these tires can't cope with the constant beating from driving fast on the track or drifting. Sure, they can give you a few fun laps around a track, but for anything more, you'll need more aggressive rubber. If you want a set of tires for track driving, drifting, or autocross, I suggest going for extreme-performance summer tires or track-only slicks.
5. Overloading the tires
Overloading the tires can affect wear significantly, as it puts more stress on the tread and rubs it harder against the abrasive road surface. Depending on how your vehicle's suspension is set, it can also cause inner tire wear.
Preventing Inner Tire Wear Through Proper Maintenance
Inner tire wear happens mostly because drivers don't maintain their tires regularly. Much like your vehicle, the tires need extra care to last longer and give you a safe ride.
1. Check tire pressure regularly
Checking the tire pressure should be a constant habit of any driver, and not just because of inner tire wear. Underinflated tires, for example, can cause the sidewall to flex more, leading to instability at higher speeds. Moreover, underinflation can cause other problems like tread separation, bulges, cracked rubber, and more!
Meanwhile, overinflation can cause the tire to bulge in the center, leading to increased wear in that area. The implications, in this case, are similar to inner tire wear, i.e., worse traction and stability, vibrations through the steering wheel, and shorter treadlife.
Thus, I strongly recommend checking the tire pressure at least once every month or before every long trip, but on cold tires. Also, don't forget to check the tire pressure after large temperature changes. Heat, for example, can significantly increase the pressure inside the tires, while extreme cold can lower the pressure.
Refer to your vehicle owner's manual or the tire manufacturer's recommendations on the placard stuck to the driver's door for the proper tire pressure for your vehicle.
2. Rotate and balance your tires regularly
Most reputable tire shops will rotate and balance your tires at each replacement if you have a combination of summer and winter tires. However, since most drivers in North America have all-season tires, rotation, and balancing are often neglected, which can significantly shorten the lifespan of the tires.
Notably, by rotating your tires regularly, you will ensure that the whole tread wears evenly and minimize the chances of inner tire wear. Moreover, by balancing the wear pattern, the tire rotation will ensure higher traction, particularly on slippery surfaces. In addition, rotating and balancing the tires will help you or the tire technician notice inner tire wear more easily.
I recommend rotating the tires at a 5,000-8,000-mile interval. For convenience, you can ask your mechanic to rotate your vehicle's tires at each oil change.
3. Inspect the suspension components and repair them if necessary
If you suspect that any of these suspension components are damaged, it's important to have your vehicle inspected by a qualified mechanic as soon as possible. Doing that won't only mitigate the inner tire wear, but you'll also drive a safer car.
4. Inspect the wheels for misalignment
The wheel alignment procedure is pretty quick and inexpensive, so it's a good habit to do it once every year. Most of the time, the mechanic will tell you that your vehicle is fine and might not even charge you. And if some of the wheels are misaligned, the technician will tweak some suspension components to bring them to factory specifications very quickly. It will take no more than an hour, yet you'll be sure that inner tire wear won't be an issue on your car.
5. Avoid overloading your vehicle
To prevent inner tire wear caused by overloading, it's important to adhere to the vehicle's weight limits as specified by the manufacturer. By doing this, you will also adhere to the tire's load capacity, which is usually in line with the vehicle's weight capacity.
Overloading includes avoiding carrying excessive cargo or passengers or towing very large trailers, which can put additional stress on the tires and other vehicle components.
You could put tires with higher load ratings, but that wouldn't increase the vehicle's weight capacity. Still, it will give you a bigger breathing room when towing large trailers or hauling heavy cargo inside.
How Inner Tire Wear Affects Your Vehicle's Performance
1. Reduced traction
Since inner tire wear reduces the tread on one side of the tire, it will have a negative effect on traction. Thus, you can expect much longer braking distances, worse lateral grip in the corners, and unbalanced handling. The problem will be even worse in wet conditions due to hydroplaning and skidding. You can also expect severely worsened snow traction.
2. Car pulling to one side
Inner tire wear can cause your car to pull to one side, meaning you'll have to constantly correct the pull with the steering.
3. Poor fuel efficiency
Inner tire wear can also increase the fuel consumption of your vehicle by creating higher rolling resistance. Thus, by fixing the issue on time, you might save money in the long run!
4. Increased road noise or vibrations
Tires with irregular wear are noisier in general, mainly due to the increased vibrations. This also holds true for inner tire wear, which causes the tire to be unbalanced and creates higher noise. Usually, the noise will be accompanied by vibrations.
5. Safety concerns
Inner tire wear not only lowers the traction but also increases the risk of catastrophic tire failure, like, for example, a blowout. Blowouts are very dangerous and can be life-threatening, as they can seriously destabilize your vehicle, and you won't be able to react, as one tire will be missing.
Saving Money and Extending Tire Life by Addressing Inner Tire Wear
You might think that you'll save money by extracting a few more miles from your tires with inner wear, but the opposite might be true. Like with your vehicle, timely repairs are crucial for low running costs.
For instance, inner tire wear increases the fuel consumption of your vehicle. However, it could also lead to accidents, which can be costly, both for fixing your vehicle and for potential medical bills.
Finally, inner tire wear will shorten the lifespan of your tires, meaning you will need to replace them sooner. So, make sure you follow my recommendations on how to fix inner tire wear, as it can save you money!
Like with most of your possessions, taking care of them will ensure they last longer and save you money in the long run. But maintaining your tires in top shape is even more important, as it also means you'll be safer while driving on the road.
Inner tire wear is an issue that shouldn't go unnoticed, even though it might look benign. So, if you notice inner wear on your tires, make sure to bring your vehicle to the tire shop for diagnostics, as it might reveal problems with the suspension. And if not, you could rotate/balance the tires and mitigate the issue!
I’m Ivo Gievski, the content writer for Tireer. We built our website with over 15 years of experience and extensive research in the automotive and technology sectors. My dedication to delivering high-quality content is unwavering, and I strive to continuously hone my skills to stay ahead of industry trends and provide readers with informative, engaging, and valuable insights.