How To Tell If Wheels Will Wear Unevenly

Setting the stage: We live in the country a mile down gravel road from the blacktop. There are lots of curves and hills in this area also.

Issue: It seems like we are having to replace tires left and right due to uneven wear. Nothing is more frustrating than having to get rid of tires that still have perfectly good tread on the majority of the tires but has worn down to the belts in one area (generally inner edge where you can’t see it until it is too late). We have had it in the shop for aligning/balancing, replaced struts, and probably other parts.

Question: I know there are lots of possible causes of uneven wear, but is there a sure-fire way to detect the problem before the wearing even occurs?

I know there are obvious signs like vibrations/shuddering. However, is there something visual? If I looked at the tire from the back, is the imbalance enough to visually see? After a trip, could I use a thermal camera to see if one edge is noticeably hotter than the rest?

Just looking for a way to unnecessary and expensive tire purchases without having to take it to the shop frequently to have alignment checked.



Change your rotation of tires to 3000 miles instead of 5000 and see if that helps and check the tire pressure at least once a month to what the door plaque says.

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Here’s an idea. Not sure how effective it’ll be. Get the vehicle on a level concrete or asphalt surface. Put a thick line of chalk across the tire treads. Drive the vehicle forward for at least one tire revolution. Examine the chalk line on the tires and the chalk mark left on the ground. If the chalk is worn off of the tire on the inside of the tire more than it is the outside…well, that’s a problem. Not sure what the solution is, could be a lot of things - bad ball joints, worn wheel bearing, bad alignment job, etc.

I’m assuming the front tires are wearing worse than the rear, if you don’t rotate them?

I think you need to try a new alignment shop. One that does free checks over the life of the tires, it is possible the gravel road, if it is like ours and has washboard effect the car just is not built to withstand the abuse.It is also possible something is worn out that has not been detected.

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If the inner edges of the tires are wearing down to nothing this means there is a problem with excessive toe-out or too much negative camber.

You say an alignment was performed. You should have gotten a printout so look closely at or post the toe and camber specs.


As said above, more wear on the inner tread means some sort of alignment issue. There are 3 problems:

  1. Some alignment shops think that if the factory didn’t provide a way to do alignment adjustment, then they don’t either. It may require a camber plate or an eccentric bolt (extra cost!) , but EVERY alignment can be adjusted.

  2. Most alignment shops use the factory tolerances. They are too loose. The alignment needs to be in the inner half of the tolerance for good tire wear.

  3. My experience is that any camber over 1° is problematic. This is sometimes outside the tolerance range. It usually requires that camber plate or that eccentric bolt mentioned above to reduce the camber to below 1°.What you will lose in handling is made up in tire wear!

So first, talk to the alignment tech and ask them to get the alignment in the inner half of the spec. Be sure to tell them that if extra cost parts are required, it’s OK to do so. (Get an estimate!) And be sure to mention the camber!

And get the printout! If the tech won’t do what is mentioned above, find one who will!


Yes. With a hand-held infra-red pyrometer, you can take tire temperatures across the face of the tire. Outer tread rib, middle and inner is enough. You do this immediately after a long normal drive letting no time to cool down the tire or even out the temperature across the face. The tire tires that wear out the inner edge will be a few degrees hotter than the outer edge and the middle.

But you already KNEW you had a wear problem, so this won’t help you.

As others have posted, the alignment is incorrect for the way you drive your car. So fix that first.

I’d guess you don’t rotate your tires. If you have been and this still happens, on some tires it is possible to reverse their mounting. So have the tires flipped so the INsides are now on the OUTsides. If the tires has “outside” molded on it, you can’t do that but that applies mostly to performance tires. So rotate every 5000 miles and flip at 20,000 miles.

However, I think the possibility exists that there has been excessive wear on front-end components. One way or another, the OP needs a much better alignment shop–one that will carefully check for worn components and use camber plates (if necessary) in order to correct the alignment.

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In addition to the above, you may be driving too fast for the conditions on your country road. Faster speeds will place more force on the suspension and cause more wear. This will mean your car loses alignment faster. It will take you longer to go to and from the paved road, but could reduce wear and tear on the suspension.

Driving too fast for rural roads with curves and hills :thinking:

I thought the whole purpose of those was to make the journey a little more fun.


Perception vs reality.
How long have you owned this journey?
How many miles have you driven?
How many tires have you bought?
Do you have a 2nd vehicle? Same wear?

Tires wear - Wheels don’t wear much .


You have to pay to play though. Nothing is free.

Hey, a road like this might be a good reason to buy a Land Rover. :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

Other stuff might break, but the suspension will be fine.

I don’t know if anyone makes one for a Dodge Journey but a bar tying the tops of the two front struts together may help stabilize your alignment.

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For “reasonable” driving styles, and vehicles which are equipped to spec, and well maintained, an incorrect toe setting is probably he most common cause of excessive tire wear. That’s where to start. It might even be possible to check the toe setting yourself, provided you have access to a smooth, level spot with a paved surface. Google “diy toe alignment”, something like that.