2016 Subaru Forester - Tire wear

Our tire dealer says our tire wear indicates we have an alignment problem and our Subaru dealership says we don’t have an alignment problem. We live at 8,500 feet and 30 miles in all directions from our home are curvy mountain roads and we tend to have a heavy foot around these curves. Could our driving conditions plus our driving style add up to wear on our tires that LOOK like alignment problems?

I would say yes.

How about a picture Carl?

No way to answer that without seeing the wear in question.

I assume that hard cornering would put extra wear on the outside edges. If your tire pressures have been lower than recommended, that would probably make that worse. A good alignment shop might be able to set the camber to a specific portion of the acceptable range to help counteract this.


Unless the Subaru dealer has put the car on the alignment rack how would they even begin to know whether it’s out or not? Obviously a service writer told you this…

It’s common for cars to go out of alignment with age and miles even without any wear or damage factor involved. All suspension settles in after a while which can send things out of scale a bit and it’s possible to have an alignment issue with no abnormal wear at all.

You have not stated what kind of wear exists but from your remark I gather that it’s outside edge wear. That is likely due to excessive positive camber or too much toe-in. If so, it needs to go on the rack to find out what is going on.

I suspect once on the rack it will show an issue or two. It’s also common after curb strikes and so on that a wheel may knuckle under a bit and create excessive positive camber due to something like a tweaked control arm.


Spirited mountain driving can cause more wear on the outer edges of the tires than easy highway driving. But I would imagine your tire shop has more than once customer with an AWD car that lives up the mountain, so that shouldn’t be news to them.

Have the alignment checked, it’s not an expensive procedure. Where I am a 4-wheel alignment on that car would be $89.95. If we set it up and all the angles are in spec the charge is only $57. Then you’ll know for sure.

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In addition to the good replies above, my experience says that factory published alignment tolerances are too wide by half. They need to be within the inner half of the spec in order to assure good tire wear.

Also, any camber over 1° is problematic.

Many alignment techs think that if the factory didn’t provide alignment adjustability, then they can’t (or won’t) adjust. That’s not true - BUT - it sometimes takes a camber plate or an eccentric bolt (extra cost), and they usually don’t tell you upfront about this cost, so they tend not to use these things even if they need them to get the values in spec.

And - YES! - curvy roads will tend to cause edge wear on tires, even if the alignment is spot on! Driving gently, and adding a little more inflation pressure will help that.

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On my 2007 Mazda3, after lots of bad tire wear, they installed an adjustable camber kit on the rear that solved everything. I was surprised that it cost $600.

It seems to me that driving on CO mountain roads with enough aggression to wear tires off may not be the greatest of ideas.

When I graduated high school I knew (very, very casually) 2 twin brothers who along with 2 others went on a post graduation trip to CO. All 4 ended up dead when they went off a curve into a 300 foot deep ravine and in this case alcohol was involved. Alcohol, curved roads in the mountains, and late at night; what could go wrong one might rhetorically ask.

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You own 1 car? This is only car you have ever owned with this type of tire wear?