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2004 Toyota Corolla - tires rub the wheel wells on turns

I have an odd-sounding but harmless…I think…issue with my 2004 Toyota Corolla LE sedan. When moving in reverse (only in reverse) the tires rub against the wheel wells and make a tremendous rubber-on-dirty-plastic grinding sound. It’s worse if you turn the wheels left vs. turning right, and if you back off on the turn, the grinding sound goes away.



I’ve noticed no damage to the well or the tires from this, but damned if I can figure out how to fix it! I’m concerned this will dramatically lower the resale or trade-in value, even if it seems essentially harmless. It’s a hair under 100,000 miles so trying to sell is a distinct possibility.



Any suggestions?

Do you have OEM size tyres and wheels?

Maybe if we could see the car, the problem would be more obvious, but offhand it seems pretty unlikely. Unless you have oversized tires or the wheel wells are caked with inches of dirt and debris, the tires shouldn’t rub. And certainly not only in reverse. What comes to mind is that something else entirely is making the noise. Or just maybe a Macpherson strut or some other suspension component is seriously broken. But I think if it were the latter the car would be listing noticably to one side or the other and the steering would feel odd.

Anyway, I’d get it to a mechanic pronto. It could be something harmless, but it could also be something actually dangerous.

When I turn the wheel, then stop and get out, I can reach behind the tire and feel the tire brushing the inside of the wheelwell, so it’s definitely that. Or at least that’s part of it. I don’t think it’s a serious problem because it’s been like that practically since we got the car, about 50k miles and 1.5 years ago.

I believe they are OEM tires/wheels, but I will have to double-check.

If it rubs in reverse but not in drive I’d be worried that there’s something loose/worn in the suspension letting the wheels shift front to back.