Why do my tyres wear unevenly?

By Julia Freeman

Tyres are subject to all kinds of stresses - whether used mostly on-road or off-road. But what can cause excessive or uneven tyre wear? Is it mainly driver error/lack of maintenance or is it external issues?

checking tyre treads

What are the main signs of excessive or uneven tyre wear?

The key things to look out for are:

  • Dragging/pulling to one side

  • Visible tyre wear

  • Steering wheel vibration

What can cause uneven tyre wear?

There are a number of possible causes of uneven tyre wear. The main four are outlined below:

1. Incorrectly inflated tyres

If your tyres are over or under-inflated, this can result in uneven wear. This is because incorrect inflation can cause increased abrasion between the road and tyre tread - resulting in parts of the tyres being worn more quickly. Where a tyre is over inflated, the tyres will tend to exhibit more wear in the centre whilst under inflation usually results in more wear on the outer section of the tyre.
The tyre pressure numbers that are recommended by your manufacturer should always be followed as they are designed to give a safe and comfortable ride.

2. Worn suspension components

If a wheel leans too much to either side in normal running, it puts increased load on one side of the tyre which can result in uneven wear. This may be due to weakened springs, worn ball joints, or issues with other components of the suspension.

3. Misaligned wheels

Your wheels need to be correctly aligned as per the manufacturer's guidelines. Misaligned wheels are a common source of uneven wear and also reduce the lifespan of the tyres and reduce fuel efficiency.

Book A Wheel Alignment

4. Driving style

Individual driving style can cause uneven tyre wear. If you hit a kerb whilst driving, you can knock things out of alignment, causing uneven wear. Sharp turns and fast cornering can sometimes result in uneven wear. If you drive over a pothole, this can also affect your alignment and thus your tyre wear.

What can cause excessive tyre wear?

If you feel that your tyres are wearing out faster than they normally do or if it is evident that they are wearing at a really alarming rate, you should get them checked out as soon as possible. This excessive wear could be due to incorrect wheel alignment, faulty suspension, a worn steering system, or an issue with the braking system.
If your wheel alignment is off, it means your wheels aren’t pointing precisely in the direction they are supposed to. This can, over a period of time, can cause the tyre to move slightly sideways when rotating. Over time, this can result in excessive wear on one or possibly two tyres. This is sometimes accompanied by a steering pull at greater speeds.
If your suspension has a worn, faulty, or loose component such as an ageing bush or leaking shock absorber, this may cause excessive tyre wear on a particular tyre. This can, in turn, create extra friction that can reduce the tyre lifespan or cause damage to the tread.
Issues with the steering system (loose or worn parts) can mean that wheels can shimmy and shake, resulting in excessive wear/scrubbing against road surfaces. This can also result in excessive wear.
If your braking system suffers from excessive drag or there is a seized component within it, this can lead to excessive wear. Fuel economy may also suffer.

How to combat uneven tyre wear

  • Check and correct your tyre pressures at least once a month - more regularly if you drive a lot.

  • Check and correct your pressure, including the spare, prior to embarking on a longer than usual journey.

  • Examine the wear pattern on your tyres regularly to see if certain tyres/areas on the tyre are showing greater wear than you would expect.

Get checked out

If you are concerned that your tyres may not be performing well or if they are showing signs of wear, why not book a free tyre check at your local Protyre garage? You can locate your nearest Protyre using our online garage locator - simply enter your postcode in the search box provided.
All Protyre garages stock a range of tyres from a variety of manufactures such as Michelin, Goodyear, Pirelli, and many more. Our mechanics are highly experienced, and our tyre professionals are always on-hand to assist you with your tyre needs.

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About the author

Article Author Photo
By Julia Freeman
Julia is Head of Retail Marketing for Protyre and loves engaging with customers and the business as a whole to make sure Protyre is more than just a local garage.
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