Our reader noticed tyre wear that’s more apparent on the inside than the outside of the treaded area. This is only happening on one of their front tyres. Read on to find out what’s wrong.
What is causing it?
It’s difficult to know without seeing it but we think it’s probably down to one of two things. Simply put, the wheel is misaligned. There will either be something wrong with the toe of the wheels or it’ll be the camber.
What is toe?
Imagine you’re looking down on your car’s tyre from above. If it is suffering from ‘toe-in’, the front of the wheel will be pointing very slightly in towards the centre of the car. If it’s toe-out, the front of the wheel will point very slightly away from the centre of the car.
The wheel only has to be off true centre by a degree or two and when you drive you’ll effectively be dragging the edge of the tyre along the road. The result will be a strip of tread around the tyre that feels as if it’s feathered. If the wheel is toe-in, the outer shoulder of the tyre will be worn. If it’s toe-out, the inner shoulder of the tyre will have the feathering effect.
What is camber?
If you lie on the ground in front of your car and look at your wheel head on, the top might be angled towards the centre of the car or away from it. A wheel pointing into the car from the top is negative camber. Angled away at the top and that’s positive camber.
You’ve probably seen some cars, particularly competition cars, with very aggressive camber on their wheels. This is to improve handling and road holding by ensuring more of the tyre is in contact with the road during extreme cornering.
Camber problems can cause the edges of the tyre to wear in a similar way to if the toe needs adjusting. Tyres with a negative camber wear the strip closest to the centre of the car more heavily; tyres with positive camber wear the strip furthest from the centre of the car more heavily.
Why has it happened?
If the wheel is out of alignment, it has probably been caused by you hitting something, whether that’s going down a pothole or whacking a kerb.
How do you fix it?
You don’t. You go to a garage that has the right equipment. They will attach this to your car and it will correlate with their machine which will tell them all about the alignment of your wheels.
The garage will then probably need to adjust the suspension very slightly to correct the problem. It’s the sort of job that’s easy if you’ve got the right kit. If you haven’t it’s very difficult. And it’s all but impossible to do accurately just by eye or with a spirit level!
I’ve been writing about cars and motoring for more than 25 years. My career started on a long-departed classic car weekly magazine called AutoClassic. I’ve since pitched up at Autosport, Auto Express, the News of the World, Sunday Times and most recently the Daily Telegraph. When I’m not writing about cars and motoring, I’m probably doing some kind of sport or working in my garden.