Tires getting chewed up prematurely on the inside edges before the rest of the tread is a common – and annoying – problem for drivers. But why does it happen and what can you do about it? Inside tire wear can result from issues like alignment, underinflation, and aggressive driving. Luckily, solutions like wheel alignments, tire pressure monitoring, rotated tired, new suspension parts, and improved driving habits can help even out treadwear and extend the life of your tires.
This article will dive into all the nitty-gritty details behind inner tire wear to help you understand the problem, identify the causes, and correct it through proper maintenance and driving adjustments. Equipped with this knowledge, you’ll be able to catch the issue early and take action before it leads to blowouts, poor performance, and costly premature replacements.
- What exactly is inside tire wear and what does it look like?
- Most common causes of inner tread wear
- Symptoms that may indicate you have an issue
- Inspection, maintenance, and driving solutions
- extra tips to prevent inside shoulder wear
So rev up your knowledge and let’s get rolling towards better tire care!
Table of Contents
What is Inside Tire Wear?
Inner tire wear refers to when the inside edges or shoulders of your tires wear down significantly faster than the rest of the tread. It shows up as uneven patches of deeper tread grooves and smoothing specifically on the inner sides.
This uneven tread wear pattern – with the middle of the tread pattern remaining deeper as the shoulders get eaten away – is referred to as shoulder wear, inner wear, or sawtooth wear.
The inner sidewalls are the parts that suffer excessive friction and take more abuse when cornering and maneuvering. So they naturally tend to show wear sooner.
But when they wear down way faster than the rest of the tire, it indicates some issue is causing extra strain specifically on the inner treads. Identifying and correcting this imbalance in treadwear is key to preventing blowouts and improving the tire’s longevity and performance.
What Causes Inner Tire Wear?
There are a number of potential causes of tires wearing prematurely on the insides while the rest of the tread depth remains plentiful. Here are the most common culprits:
One of the top causes of inner shoulder wear on tires is alignment problems, particularly camber misalignment.
Camber refers to the inward or outward tilt of the tire from top to bottom. Good camber alignment means the tire is perfectly perpendicular to the road.
When camber is out of whack, the tire tilts slightly inward or outward on top. This puts more pressure on either the inside or outside edges when rolling forward.
Negative camber causes extra wear on the inside shoulder. Positive camber wears the outside edge faster.
Small alignment issues creep up over time naturally as you drive and from hitting potholes. Bad alignment accelerates uneven treadwear.
When tire pressure drops too low, the tread squishes down and deforms more when it meets the road. This flexing action creates excessive heat and friction specifically along the inner shoulders.
Underinflation also causes the center of the tires to carry more of the weight load. This burden combined with the extra friction eats away aggressively at the inside edges.
Aggressive Cornering and Turning
The way we drive and handle our vehicles impacts tire wear patterns.
Taking corners sharply at high speeds forces the vehicle weight to dig into the inside shoulder of the turns. The abrupt lateral movements grind the inner treads.
Repeated hard cornering, fast U-turns, sudden braking into curves, and other aggressive maneuvers strain the inside edges the most.
Issues with worn suspension components like shocks, struts, ball joints, tie rods, and bushings can throw off wheel alignment and balance.
This leads to uneven treadwear as the compromised suspension can’t hold the wheels in proper stable positions. Inner tire wear develops as they start to tilt.
Wheels Out of Balance
Wheels that are out of balance – due to mounting issues or uneven brake rotor wear – distribute weight unevenly as they spin.
Heavier spots cause the wheels to wobble. This strains the suspension and accelerates inner tread wear.
Signs Your Tires are Wearing Prematurely on the Inside
Watch for these clues that may indicate you have excessive inner tire wear developing:
- Steering Wheel Vibration – As the shoulders get bald and degrade traction, you may feel the steering wheel shake when braking or hitting bumps.
- Uneven Tread Depth – Tread depth gauges will show significantly lower depth on the inner edges. You may also spot shoulder wear just visually.
- Cupped Tread Pattern – Distorted wavy tread instead of even blocks indicates loss of traction on the shoulders.
- Reduced Handling and Control – You’ll start to notice the vehicle is harder to steer and turn precisely as the worn shoulders lose grip.
Don’t ignore these symptoms of inner tire wear. Catching issues early gives you the best chance to identify the root problem and rectify it before you need new tires sooner than expected.
How to Fix Inside Tire Wear?
Seeing accelerated wear on those inner tire shoulders? Take action to extend the tread life by targeting the root causes. Here are strategies to halt and prevent inner tire wear:
First, get your wheels professionally realigned. This will correct any camber issues that lead to inside shoulder wear.
Many shops offer free alignment checks. Take advantage of this to get a readout of your camber, toe, and caster so you can catch and fix subtle issues before they worsen.
Alignment should be checked at least annually. It’s smart to inspect it twice a year if you live in areas with harsh winter weather and frequent potholes.
Check Tire Pressure
Ensure tires are always filled to the PSI recommended on your door jamb sticker for your specific vehicle and tires. Invest in a high quality tire gauge and check pressures at least monthly.
Before longer trips and when carrying heavier loads, give them an extra pressure top-up. Use pressure monitoring systems to stay on top of it.
Underinflation is one of the most preventable causes of inside shoulder wear. Keep those tires pumped up!
New Suspension Components
If a worn suspension system is suspected, replace any bushings, joints, struts, or shocks that show deterioration.
This will provide stable, even tire positioning to avoid extra strain on the inner treads.
Rotating tires every six months spreads wear more evenly across the whole tread. It gives the shoulders some recovery time while other sections directly hit the pavement.
Stick to the rotation pattern specified in your owner’s manual. Five and six tire rotations are common.
Out of balance wheels are easily remedied. Take them to a shop to be spin balanced. They’ll detect heavy spots and attach small weights to offset and correct the imbalance.
Change Driving Habits
Ease up on the sharp high-speed corners and abrupt stops that dig into the tire shoulders. Brake earlier before turns and corner at controlled speeds.
Avoid potholes and curbs whenever possible. If you must hit them, take them head on rather than at an angle which focuses force on the edges.
Bonus Tips to Minimize Inside Tire Wear
Round out your prevention plan with these extra pointers to keep the inner tread on your tires lasting longer:
- Rotate tires side to side at installations so the same edges aren’t always on the inside wearing edges.
- Stud winter tires evenly on all wheels to distribute wear from studs chewing at the inner rubber.
- When replacing only two tires, put new ones on the rear wheels to protect the rear outside shoulders from slipping in turns.
- Add an extra 1-2 PSI to tires that tend to show more inner wear to reduce flexing and heat.
- Upgrade your driving skills with advanced classes teaching better cornering and braking techniques.
Let Your Tires Wear Evenly and Last Longer
Dealing with premature inner tire wear is frustrating and hits your wallet. But armed with the must-know causes and solutions provided above, you can catch and correct uneven tread patterns fast.
Stay vigilant on maintenance like alignments, pressure checks, rotations, and suspension repairs. Adjust driving habits that abuse those inside shoulders. And your tires will reward you with more traction, safety, and miles rolling down the highway.