Wear on the inside of your tire tread is caused by poor alignment. The toe or camber isn’t what it should be, leading to too much strain on the rubber’s inner edge.
Tire checks are part of good regular maintenance. You should check the pressures each month and get underneath the vehicle to look at the wear pattern.
You must head straight to a mechanic if you notice inside tire wear (or any uneven tread or damage). You’ll need at least one new tire for safety reasons, along with an adjustment and repair.
This guide contains three of the most likely causes of inner tire wear:
- Negative camber due to a modification
- Negative camber due to suspension component failure
I will begin the guide by explaining how the inside tire wear happens initially.
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What Causes Tires To Wear On The Inside?
Below, you’ll find the most likely reasons for inside tire wear.
In all cases, you’ll most likely need a new tire and to get the root cause repaired, too. All prices include labor.
‘Toe’ is what most people think of when they go for an alignment. In most cases, this is the only thing that’ll need adjusting.
Wheels can ‘toe-in’ and ‘toe-out’. To understand, just imagine pointing your big toes together (toe-in) or apart from each other (toe-out).
Wear on the inside edge of your tire means the wheel is toeing out. As a result, the inner tread and sidewall stretch too much while the wheel turns.
It has the most significant impact on the front (steering) wheels.
It won’t take long before the tire edge shaves down to become completely smooth.
How To Fix
You’ll need a new tire, and should also replace the opposite one.
The tire shop or mechanic will offer a toe alignment. They’ll get under the car and adjust the tie rods using a spanner and laser or Bluetooth gauges.
This involves loosening the tie rod end nut. This itself sometimes takes a little while if it’s seized on.
Once everything’s done, they’ll retighten the nuts and take your car for a test drive.
Expect to pay around $100 for a high-quality toe adjustment.
Camber Angle Modifications
Note: This section examines camber modifications rather than suspension damage from accidents.
Continuing the analogy, camber angle is like pronation (your foot leaning inwards) or supination (outward).
You’ll likely have seen racecars or illegal street cars with ‘slanted’ wheels. Usually, the top leans inward, with the bottom leaning out. This is known as ‘negative camber’ (or ‘a negative camber angle’).
In racing situations, it’s incredibly beneficial. The cornering grip is drastically increased because the tire makes more contact with the asphalt as the vehicle’s weight shifts.
On the streets, though, it’s illegal. Road tires aren’t built for racing, and you shouldn’t ever be driving that fast anyway.
You’re always driving on the inside edge when tires have negative camber, leading to this wear pattern.
The incline angle could be impacted by the following:
- Adjustments by yourself or previous owners
- Wheel or suspension modifications
How To Fix
In severe cases, negative camber adjustments are clearly visible to the naked eye. Otherwise, a technician will use an advanced alignment setup to check your car’s camber angles.
If they’re found to be negative due to a modification, you’ll need to have the camber reset.
You’ll also need a new tire (preferably two) and to check for suspension wear.
Between $200 and $350 is a reasonable estimate for camber adjustments on all four corners. Don’t forget to add on the cost of any parts you need, including the tires, balancing, and mounting.
Suspension Component Failure
When a suspension component fails, it might cause permanent negative camber (mentioned above).
Suspension does wear out and sometimes rust over time. The damage might also be caused by heavy impacts such as collisions, potholes, hitting a curb, etc.
The most likely suspension component to fail and cause negative camber would be the control arm bushings or the arm itself. Without this, there’s nothing to grasp the bottom of the wheel and keep it in line.
Lower ball joints also wear out, developing play. Because of this, the steering knuckle pushes further into the wheel, leading to negative camber.
Last but not least, check the standard suspension components such as shocks, springs, and struts. Pay extra attention to places near the bolts, nuts, and other connections. Even though it’s uncommon, damages in these locations might lead to negative camber, so it’s better to inspect them as a final step.
How To Fix
If a mechanic identifies a failing suspension component as the root cause of the negative camber, it’ll need replacing. They’ll also check for other damage that might have been done to related parts.
Again, you’ll need a new tire, and you should really invest in two. You might also need a camber adjustment (see above).
Expect to pay the following amounts for typical negative camber-causing suspension repairs:
- Control arm bushings: $200 – $250
- Lower ball joint: $200 – $300
Remember the extra associated costs (new tires and potential camber adjustment).
Is Inside Tire Wear Important To Fix?
If you notice any uneven tire wear, you must get it fixed immediately. It might not look too bad on the outside, but the rubber will deteriorate quickly inside.
Once the structural integrity is compromised, the tire will blow out, potentially causing a severe accident.
Unfortunately, you’ll likely need a new tire once you notice abnormal tire wear. There’s no way to repair the tread or sidewalls.
The cause of this wear must also be identified and fixed to prevent it from happening again.
Have you found evidence of a tire (or tires) wearing smooth on the inside (or anywhere)? If so, go straight to your local tire shop. It’s strongly recommended to replace both tires across an axle.
Don’t take any chances! Inside tire wear is never something to ignore!