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I had my tires rotated today on my 1999 Kia Sephia with 125,000 miles on it. The technician stated that there was 3/32 inch wear on outer edge of the tires from center. (They did not specify which ones)

He said because of this the alignment should be checked. I had the vehicle aligned about a year ago, and I am experiencing no drifting when driving straight and the steering wheel is dead center when driving.

I don’t feel like I need this work done, and I’ve very suspicious of this shop for always trying to up sell.

This is a firestone location (I know everyone dislikes chain places for repairs, I don’t do repairs there, they just had a good deal on a set of tires and the rotation was no charge).

I was wondering what everyone’s opinion was, is this something I should get checked out at a reputable shop?

Can’t you look at the tires yourself to see if there is indeed uneven wear?

It should be fairly obvious. If the technician is correct and the wear gets exaggerated, you could prematurely have to replace two or more tires; that is the risk, simply stated. If you have $40 tires the risk is at one level; if you have $100 tires, the cost and risk is certainly greater. Inside wear like this is generally a toe or camber problem, as I recall – both are generally adjustable when an alignment is done.

If you don’t believe the tech, buy a $3 tread wear gauge and evaluate it yourself, or get a second opinion from a qualified alignment specialist.

You do not state how many miles you have traveled in the past year. An alignment a year ago if you travel only 5K miles and needing one at the one year mark if you put 25K miles is a big difference in wear and tear on the alignment and suspension parts.

I forgot to mention that I did look at the tire wear before going to the shop just because I felt they would have tried to sell me an alignment. I did not notice any uneven wear but I figure a 3/32 wear not noticeable without a gauge, I will take jayhawkroy’s advice and get a tread wear gauge and check it out myself.

Sorry I didn’t mention the miles on the tire, its about 11,000 miles.

Thanks for your replies tardis and jayhawkroy

Get a tire tread gauge and determine what the tread depth is at its most worn area of the tread.
If you do indeed have only 3/32 of an inch of tread remaining, this means that your car will hydroplane on a rainy roadway and it is likely to skid on a wet roadway curve.

In other words, you are inviting an accident if you do not replace those tires very soon.

If your tread is actually down to 3/32, now is the time to start shopping for new tires, before you have an accident as a result of your present tires. And, right after the new tires are installed, have a 4-wheel alignment done in order to prevent uneven tire wear from prematurely destroying the new tires.

If I’m understanding the post correctly, the variation between the wear in the center and the wear at the outer tread is 3/32"?

That’s sigificant. And yes, you need to have the alignment checked. And get new tires.

Just out of curiosity, ask the alignment shop to print the before and after readings and post them.

An old trick is to stick a coin in the groove and if the top of Lincoln’s head is visible, you need to replace the tire.


The “penny test” is now considered to be outmoded.

Now, the layman’s test is to use a quarter. If any of George’s head is visible at any point on the tread, then it is time for tire replacement. Apparently a penny has a wider space between the edge of the coin and Abe’s head than a quarter has between the edge and George’s head.

Or, maybe it has to do with inflation (economic, not tire inflation).

Not necessarily, if both of the outer treads on each tire is worn more than the middle, the tires could just be seriously underinflated. Now if only one outer edge (inside edge or outside edge) is worn, then alignment would be strongly suspect.

Good point. I agree.

The post is a bit unclear.

A lot of fast cornering can wear the outer edges of front tires. If you have not seen this before with this car if bought new or with other cars that you have owned, then you might have a slight alignment issue, either toe or camber or less likely, both. If the car drives well as you state, it might be possible that the last alignment job was not done quite correctly. A front end alignment problem from hitting a large pothole or bump with the brakes applied strongly or from hitting a parking curb too hard will more likely result in odd wear on one side only.

Rear wheels on a front driver need correct alignment too.

If the last alignment was never, it’s time to get one. If it was three years ago, it’s time to get one. If it was two years ago, it’s time to get one. If you don’t feel that it is time for an alignment, you probably aren’t ready to just buy a new car, so I won’t suggest it this time.

I agree about the post being unclear it took me quite a ways into it to determine just what was at 3/32. The way I understand it is the outermost tread is at 3/32 depth with the tread becomming deeper as you move in to the center of the tire,is this how it goes?

You should be aware that even vehicles that do not have a pull can be out of alignment. There are settings where one out of spec condition is offset by another out of spec condition ? typically camber vs toe.

If you have uneven tire wear, then an alignment is called for. Just be aware that once a tire wears unevenly, you can’t fix it. In other words, you can’t add rubber back onto the tire. Even after an alignment, the tire will continue to be unevenly worn, albeit any future wear will be even.

Okay so here is an update, I bought one of the tire tread gauges. The center tread was 8/32 the out was actually 6/32, so just a difference of 2/32. The tire has never been under inflated (I check them very often and have a air pump that allows me to fill it when necessary).

With a car this age, I think the problem may be its aging suspension a mechanic I trust highly had said that my vehicle needs new struts. Additionally the roads in Buffalo can be a bit rough with all the darn potholes so I suppose its quite possible that the alignment done last year may need to be redone.

I probably should get my struts replaced and then get an alignment done, I might not be able to correct the improperly worn parts of the tire but at least I can stop it from wearing improperly.

I was curious if anyone things Lifetime Alignments are worth the price? If anyone has heard of a lifetime alignment package at some places, what are your thoughts about it, and how often to you typically need to get your vehicles aligned?

The way that you worded your original post made me (and most of the others, I think) believe that your tires had only 3/32 of an inch of tread remaining on the outer edges of the tires. Your last post gives a very different impression, so many if not most of the earlier replies may no longer be valid.

So, going on the basis of the new information, I would advise you to have the struts checked because it would be entirely believeable for a Kia with 125k to need new struts. And, you should have a 4 wheel alignment done at the time of the strut replacement.

You can’t undo the uneven wear pattern on those tires, but if you faithfully rotate them every 5k or so, you will get more life out of them than if you don’t rotate them.

If there is that little difference in tire wear I would think your tie rods are starting to wear. and most of the time the only time you need an alignment is after changing suspension parts or after a wreck.

Personally I like to get a alignment done once a year. New England winters with the many pot-holes can ruin an alignment.

Thanks for the “fiscal” update! I ususally replace tires earlier than that, since the general traction and handling will have really gone downhill at that stage

Lifetime alignments can be worth it if you trust the technician and actually go back for alignments once a year or so. That said, it also generally ties you to paying that garage’s prices for struts and suspension repairs. There is something to be said about having one trusted shop do the tires, alignments and suspension repairs, so as to minimize a lot of finger-pointing.