What Causes Excessive Or Uneven Tyre Wear?

As tyres get used, it’s normal for the tyre tread to gradually become shallower but excessive or uneven tyre wear could be a sign of something more sinister. In some cases, it may even decrease the safety performance of your car, especially in wet or slippery conditions.

If tyres are used on all types of surfaces for various reasons, why does the tread sometimes wear excessively? In some cases it might be due to problems with tyre tracking, wheel balancing and alignment or your suspension could be damaged. Let’s have a look at some of the main reasons uneven tyre wear occurs, how to identify and prevent it.

Signs Of Uneven Tyre Wear

Considering all the work your tyres do, it’s normal for the tread to wear out but not excessively or unevenly. It’s important to keep an eye on signs of abnormal tyre wear to ensure your car remains roadworthy and as safe as possible. You can often hear abnormal tyre tread wear as the uneven patterns cause vibration or noise while driving. Here are a few key things to look out for:

  • The vehicle dragging or pulling to one side
  • Visible tyre wear
  • Vibration on the steering wheel
  • A sawtooth appearance on the edges of the tyre
  • Faster tyre wear on the outer edges than in the middle
  • Faster wear of front or rear tyres on front-wheel-drive cars
  • Excessive tyre wear on one side
  • Cups or dips in the tread

Causes Of Uneven Tyre Wear

Not all tyres are made from the same quality materials and can wear at very different rates. Various factors can cause excessive or uneven tyre wear but the most common is improper tyre pressure, out-of-spec alignment and driving habits. Knowing where the tyre wear occurs can help identify the reasons why. At Elite Garages, you can book a free tyre safety check where our team will help identify the root cause.

Poor Driving Habits

How you drive can easily cause uneven tyre wear and this includes sharp cornering, hitting the kerb whilst driving, wheel spinning and excessive braking. Potholes are a major cause for concern as they can affect your alignment and speed up tyre wear.

Incorrect Tyre Pressure

When a tyre is not inflated correctly, there’s a good chance it will start to wear faster and unevenly. There’s a reason vehicle manufacturers specify the recommended tyre pressure for the front and rear tyres as it helps optimise performance, safety, comfort, handling and fuel economy.

Correctly inflated tyres help optimise the distribution of the vehicle load, acceleration, braking, and cornering forces. If the tyre pressure is too low or too high, the contact area of the tyre tread is not optimised to handle the specific task at hand. As a result, different parts on the tyre tread may wear away quicker or abnormally.

Improper Wheel Alignment

Tyre alignment or wheel alignment refers to the adjustment of the vehicle’s steering and suspension components. Whilst this includes the tyres and wheels, it also adjusts the angles of the tyres and their contact with the road following the vehicle manufacturer’s specifications (camber, toe, and caster).

Common irregular tyre tread wear conditions from improper alignment, over-inflation, under-inflation or overload include the following:

Heel/Toe Tyre Wear

This is when one side of the tyre tread wears faster than the other side and feels like saw teeth when running your hand over it. This type of wear typically occurs in a shoulder rib and is often caused by excessive positive or negative toe.

‘Feathered’ Edge Tyre Wear

This type of abnormal tyre wear appears on front fitment tyres due to incorrect toe-in (excessive wear to the outer shoulder) or toe-out settings (excessive wear to the inner fitted shoulder area). The “feathered” effect is when tread ribs are worn lower/smoother on one side and higher/sharper on the other.

This is often caused by a combination of improper alignment settings, such as excessive toe and caster. The best solution here is to correct the alignment and reverse tyre on rim to maximise mileage potential.

One-sided Or Dropped Shoulder Tyre Wear

Also referred to as camber wear, with excessive positive or negative camber often causing this type of uneven tyre wear. Here, the inside or outside shoulder rib of the tread is significantly more worn than the others, similar to “feathered” tyre wear.

Centre Tyre Tread Wear

If your tyres are wearing away more in the middle, it’s likely due to over-inflation. With too much air in your tyres, the tread will bulge in the centre causing excessive tread wear. Don’t overinflate your tyres so you don’t have to do so again for a while as this will only cause more damage and reduce the lifespan of your tyres.

If you suspect a leak or slow puncture, visit your nearest Elite Garages for a free tyre safety check as frequently over-inflating your tyres won’t solve the problem. Another potential cause could be that your wheel tracking or alignment is slightly out which is a quick and relatively inexpensive fix.

How To Minimise Uneven Tyre Wear

You can’t stop your tyres from wearing out as it is a normal process but you can minimise premature or uneven tyre wear.

  • Try to avoid potholes where possible as this can knock a tyre out of alignment
  • Avoid bumping into kerbs at awkward angles as it can also affect the tyre alignment
  • Check the pressure and tread of all your tyres, including the spare at least once a month, before going on a long trip carrying extra load
  • Don’t over-inflate your tyres and always follow the manufacturer’s specifications
  • Examine the tyre wear pattern regularly to see if certain tyres or areas are showing excessive or uneven tyre wear
  • Take your car for regular services, wheel alignment and balancing
  • Don’t replace one tyre at a time

Quality Tyres And Services From Elite Garages

Depending on how much you drive, you should replace a new set of tyres every few years or 20,000 miles. Don’t drive on tyres older than 10 years even if they aren’t worn down. Once you’ve had a puncture on the outside of the tyre, it’s best to replace it.

If you notice uneven tyre wear and suspect something may be wrong with your car, contact your nearest Elite branch as soon as possible. We offer various free safety checks including tyres, wheel alignment, suspension and exhaust.

The Elite Garages group has over 1 million tyres in stock with a wide range to choose from. For added convenience, you can also reserve tyres online. Contact us today as our highly experienced, friendly and professional staff are ready to advise and assist in any way they can.