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BLOWOUTS: What Causes Tires to Wear Differently

After several thousand miles of use, your tires can tell quite a story. Most trained professionals can look at a used tire and tell a few things about how you drove on them and any issues with your vehicle.

Knowing what to look for when it comes to your tires can help you avoid a major blowout or getting stranded on the side of the road.

So what causes tires to wear differently? Let’s look and see!

What Causes Tires to Wear Differently? 

Ideally, all of the tires on your vehicle will wear down evenly over their lifespan. However, that’s not always the case. There are a variety of issues that can cause tires to wear differently. Improper alignment, overinflation, underinflation, or other suspension issues can cause you to experience uneven tire wearing.

This is why you must follow the recommended maintenance schedule on your vehicle and have a mechanic you can trust.

Most mechanics check tire tread wear and depth during routine maintenance like oil changes or tire rotations. Catching these issues as early as possible is the key to replacing your tires or worsening the situation.

What Does Uneven Tire Wear Feel Like?

If you’re worried about uneven tire wear, let your tires cool down for a bit after driving and check them. Run your hands around your tires and inspect for any differences across the tire tread. Be sure to further inspect any areas that appear smoother or more worn than others.

In between each of the treads are rubber wear bars. Once the tread reaches these bars, the tire needs replacing. If you notice uneven wearing between these various bars, it’s a sign there’s an issue with uneven wearing.

You’ll also want to run your hands along the tire’s edges and feel for a trendline in the tire. This trendline around the edges will wear down quickly when a car is out of alignment. You’ll need to get your vehicle to a mechanic that does front-end alignments as soon as possible.

You can feel uneven wear on a tire while driving. It will cause a shaking feeling in the vehicle as it travels down the road. You’ll feel this most when driving at high speeds on interstates and highways. If you’re noticing a shaking in your vehicle that doesn’t go away, it could be due to uneven tire wear.

Pro Tip: If you have uneven wear on your tires you might be wondering Should You Replace All Your Tires at the Same Time? Find out!

Pile of old tires.
Tires should wear even, but some technical problems can cause uneven wear.

Can Uneven Tire Wear Cause Shaking?

Yes, uneven tire wear can cause shaking in a vehicle. The uneven wear can throw off the balance of your tires, which will enhance the uneven wearing of your tires. You must get your vehicle to a qualified mechanic as soon as possible.

While most expert mechanics will diagnose this problem relatively easily, some will opt to change the tire first. This will simply be a bandaid for a major problem as the real issue will reappear once the new tires wear down faster.

How Much Uneven Tire Wear Is Normal?

Uneven tire wear of any kind is not normal. Vehicles operating optimally have even wear across the tires as they age. Uneven tire wear indicates that things aren’t normal or operating as they should be. 

It’s essential to get your tires in front of a professional as soon as possible. If you delay getting your vehicle to a mechanic, the situation will only worsen. Many drivers allow the fear of the unknown to keep them from getting their vehicles checked out until it’s too late. 

Once the tires have worn past the point of no return, you’ll need to completely replace all four tires and likely pay for an alignment or whatever is mechanically wrong with the vehicle to cause the uneven wear.

Close up on vehicle tires.
As soon as you notice your tires wearing unevenly, address the issue!

What Causes the One Sided Wear Pattern?

If you’re experiencing one side of your tire wearing significantly more than the other, it’s likely due to excessive positive or negative camber. Mechanics often refer to this as camber wear. This means the tire is incorrectly set up with too much inward or outward tilt of the tire and wheel. 

Pro Tip: We took a closer look at how to prevent wear and tear by regularly rotating your RV tires.

How Do You Fix Uneven Tire Wear?

Drivers should first check and ensure that they’re inflating their tires to the proper pressures. Over inflation or underinflation can cause uneven wearing in tires and reduced fuel efficiency. If the pressure in the tires is adequate, you’ll want to look for suspension damage or misalignment.

The only thing most drivers can typically do themselves is check the tire pressure. If there’s suspension damage or an alignment issue, most drivers will likely need a trip to the mechanic. Unless you have the knowledge, experience, and proper tools, neither are DIY fixes.

When Should You Fix Uneven Tire Wear?

The minute you recognize your tires are wearing unevenly, address the issue. Driving with uneven tires can cause a serious issue for you while you’re on the road. A tire with uneven wear can result in a major tire blowout, which can cause an accident or leave you stranded on the side of a busy road.

Don’t put yourself, your vehicle, or others on the road at risk. Get your vehicle checked out by a knowledgeable mechanic as soon as possible!

Have you ever had tires wear unevenly? Tell us about your experience in the comments!

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