Inside tire wear is an uneven treadwear issue that sometimes doesn’t manifest itself until it’s too late—either the tire is too uneven to drive correctly/safely or it wears down so far without you noticing that it blows out the highway.
I can tell you from experience in the shop that the most frustrating thing in the whole world for drivers is needing to buy a new set of tires because they didn’t catch their inner tread wear. I want to see more drivers get the expected lifespan out of their tires, and that requires a bit of education. It only makes sense.
So, before you go rotating and adjusting your tires, here’s all you need to know about how to the fix inner tire wear pattern:
What You Need To Know About Fixing Inner Tire Wear
First of all, preventing automotive treadwear is a combination of keeping your tires accurately inflated, rotating them appropriately every 3-5 thousand miles, and keeping your suspension functioning perfectly. Here are some causes of inner tire wear:
Misalignment issues cause inner treadwear
Improper toe angle/toe settings are typically the most commonly ‘off’ alignment problem that will cause problems like feathering on the inside of the tire. For this reason, alignment issues should always be taken care of first thing before installing a new set of tires.
Negative camber angle. Have you ever been driving and seen another car with ridiculously angled wheels? The bottom of the wheels is way further out than the top of the wheels, and it almost looks like a cartoon at how wonky the car looks.
Positive camber will cause the outside edges of your tire treads to wear down faster than the rest.
Yeah, modern car tires are designed to sit perfectly flat. Otherwise, the treads wear out unevenly. Duh! If the inside of the tire tread is the only thing touching the road, of course, it’s going to wear out faster than the rest. Some funky monkeys on the road don’t get that.
If your tie rod ends aren’t adjusted perfectly, that means the steering wheel alignment might need some work.
So it might feel like you’re driving perfectly straight, but you’re actually tearing your tire treads to shreds with uneven wear in extreme cases.
Oh, and don’t worry as much about caster position when adjusting alignment to fix a tire wear problem—the caster position doesn’t directly affect treadwear like most other alignment issues.
Watch this video to help you better understand inside tire wear.
You Won’t Notice Inner Wear On Many Sedans/Sports cars
One tricky part about DIY servicing your car is that you might not notice drastic inner tire wear from changing your oil out. Some cars sit too low and have bumpers that don’t let you see anywhere near the inside of the tire treads (of course you can tire the steering wheel on the front). Look out for speedbumps!
Take your car to a shoplift for a proper rear tire inspection.
Simply put, high-performance vehicles need to be lower to the ground. On the bright side, your Jeep or truck might make it easier for you to visually inspect tire wear, but offroading tires wear out fast on the highway, so you should always be checking for weird treadwear patterns when possible.
Low tire pressures cause inner treadwear
Deflated tires have more pressure on the outer treads than the middle of the tire, so that’s why any car aficionado is overly passionate about tire maintenance. Don’t let your flat tires go unserviced. You should never drive with your tires out of spec. Check the driver’s side door panel for front and rear PSI recommendations.
I’ve never seen a technician more discouraged about the fate of humanity than when the General Manager fails to understand how to connect the tire inflator to the air compressor when reinflating the tires on his car.
Not rotating the tires causes inner treadwear
Of course, vehicle weight and turning are two variable reasons why tires must be rotated to a different wheel every 3 to 5 thousand miles. Ideally, tires are rotated every 3-5 thousand miles to prevent uneven treadwear from turning and the weight of the engine/weight distribution.
Tires that are too big cause inner treadwear
Anytime the rubber is rubbing on the fender or fender guards when driving/turning, that’s bad news bears. I always recommend the stock tire size for the wheel, and if you’re going to get funky with your vehicle’s suspension you’re going to have to start cutting fenders and whatnot to create space for the larger size (I don’t recommend it).
Supplies You’ll Need For Fixing Inner Tire Wear
If you’re lazy and have the money, the only tool you’ll need for fixing tire wear is yourself for taking it into the dealership/shop for repair.
On the other hand, if you’re a DIYer like me, you keep all the goods around to bust it out at home, no problem. Here’s a list of supplies you’ll need:
Buy an air compressor because they don’t cost that much and they’ll help you keep your tire pressures dialed on a weekly/monthly basis.
Piece of chalk
Drawing on the surface of the tire with a piece of chalk laid flat is a great way to visually identify uneven treadwear before it’s too late to fix it.
Husky, Bluepoint, Snap-on—those are some of the best brands of tire inflators complete with digital readings and inflate/deflate buttons.
Warning: From personal experience, don’t buy a tire inflator from Harbor Freight. They’re not accurate at all, and they break insanely easily.
Keep one of those simple tire gauges shaped like a pen in your car at all times. Keep in mind that you could also keep your air compressor inflator/gauge with you in the car and it works for measuring air even when it’s not connected to the compressor.
1/2” Impact driver/Sockets
Come on guys, the price of tools is going way down since our parents’ generation. If you can’t afford to buy a decent set of sockets from your local hardware store, you can surely find an estate sale or swap meet to come up on a wicked set of old sockets and wrenches.
Now, all you snotty “I’m better than you” folk out there who don’t want to get your hands dirty—don’t get your panties in a wad. I’ll be the one laughing when I’m the one who gets out alive in an emergency situation.
But seriously, have you seen these electric impact drivers these days? I literally keep one of these under my truck seats to easily rip off the wheels whenever I get a flat. They’re totally badass which is why I’m recommending them.
How To Fix Inner Tire Wear (5-Step Guide)
- Remove the wheels or raise the vehicle for treadwear inspection
- Inspect all tire treads, wheels, & suspension system
- Rotate the tires if necessary
- Set alignment
- Drive and verify
Step 1: Remove wheels or raise the vehicle for treadwear inspection
Always read the labels on the tire to make sure they’re mounted up correctly. You’re looking for words like ‘inside’ and ‘outside’, and directional arrows. Improper mounting could also cause weird tire wear.
Also, check that the tire size is an adequate match for the wheels by logging onto sites like Tire Rack and plugging in the car’s model and year.
Step 2: Inspect all tire treads, wheels, & suspension system
Inspecting the tires
Inspecting the treads with a tire tread depth gauge on the center, inside, and outside parts of each tire is a great way to understand what’s going on with your tires. If your inside treads are at 7 mm, your middle treads are at 8 mm, and your outside treads are at 10 mm—well, there you go. Something’s off.
Inspecting the wheels/wheel bearings
Always inspect the wheel for damage, too. Sometimes running over potholes at high speeds destroys and bends wheels that can cause all sorts of problems including inner tire wear.
I can honestly see with my eyes to get wheel alignment pretty perfect. But a DIY trick is that you can use a string to line up tires straight like you would when building smaller houses without special equipment.
Another inspection point is checking the wheel hub for bearing failure. You can do this by raising the wheel off of the ground and pushing it back and forth to the right and left as if you were pushing someone’s shoulders back and forth—you’ll know that something is wrong if you feel play in a loose wheel bearing.
Failed/failing wheel bearings will cause tire wear, and they’ll even cause the wheel to fall completely off! You don’t want that.
Inspecting for damaged suspension components
Every car’s suspension system is different but similar, and knowing how to properly inspect suspension quickly is a job for professionals.
What the driver can do is jounce the suspension at each corner to examine its function. You might have to literally jump repeatedly on the back of a van or truck or stand up on the hood in some cases.
What you’re looking for when inspecting or ‘jouncing’ the suspension while the car is still on the ground is an operational failure. You might notice that one corner of the car makes a weird noise or doesn’t hold your weight as well as the other corners—that’s a more obvious sign of suspension failure.
You might also be able to visually see hydraulic fluid coming from shock absorbers/struts—replace them anytime you see your shocks losing fluid.
The less obvious signs of suspension failure are things like upper & lower ball joints, tie rod bushings, control arm bushings/linkages, steering knuckles, sway arm elastomer bushings/failure, etc.
Watching a video always helps:
Step 3: Rotate the tires if necessary
Ideally, rotating your tires every few thousand miles is what you should stick to. Rotating the tires from front to back (if they’re not staggered wheel sizes) is the go-to.
There are some cases, however, where you’d want to rotate unidirectional tires and symmetrical treads in an ‘x’ pattern, and that’s great.
I think most car shops rotate from front to back simply because tire rotations happen fast, and they don’t want to make the mistake of rotating directional tires to opposite sides of the vehicle.
In extreme cases, I’ve unmounted a customer’s tire (it has to be a symmetrical design), flipped it around, and mounted it the other way to help the customer get more miles out of their tires.
Step 4: Set alignment
This step may or may not be mandatory based on the actual cause of the inner treadwear.
Pro tip: If you’re driving a simpler two-wheel-drive setup, it’s not that hard to adjust the alignment yourself. However, if the technician says you need an alignment, you probably do. These all-wheel-drive vehicles can go out of wack pretty fast from front to rear.
All-wheel-drive cars, SUVs, and trucks sometimes require a bit more adjustments for proper alignment, and they might require extra parts like camber bolts to be properly aligned—just a heads up.
Step 5: Drive and verify
Auto technicians are true scientists. They’re always changing something, and they’re always observing the car while wrenching/driving to differentiate repairs.
If the car is out of the shop and driving normal enough to be on the highway, you’ll want to take the car for a long spin, and check your tire treads after. In other words, constantly check the treads every couple of hundred miles and then every couple of thousand miles after that to make sure the treads are wearing nice and evenly—that’s how you’ll save substantially on buying new tires.
Other Valuable Resources on How To Fix Inner Tire Wear
Want to know how to recognize all the different forms of uneven tire wear? We have related posts all about servicing your tires. Stay in the loop with max traction! Don’t forget to fill your tires up with nitrogen for the best performance and longevity.