MISALIGNMENT? Uneven Tread Wear



I have seen similar posts but none that describe exactly my problem so here goes…

'05 Mazda Tribute w/33K miles.

In the summer of '06 I noticed that my nice quiet Tribute started developing a “whah whah” type rubbing sound in the front pass. tire. I could feel it a little in the breaking as well. I took it in to the dealer and they said that the tire was wearing unevenly, rotated the tire and said that it would get better over time. Though skeptical, I religiously checked the pressure of all tires and rotated them every 6K miles (subsequently the sound changes position on the car with each rotation). The wear is visible not only on that tire but another as well (inside tread only is “feathering”). But the sound only comes from one tire/wheel at a time. It’s louder sometimes but is always present and can be felt in the braking.

I’m going to take the car in and they’re probably going to tell me that I need alignment and 4 new tires. But can any of this be caused from a defect covered under my warranty?


Once a radial tire starts to wear unevenly, there is NOTHING you can do to correct the wear pattern. It just gets worse, no matter where the tire is rotated to on the vehicle.

Maintaining the correct inflation and alignment, and rotating tires, is about all you can do to maximize tire life. Once the wear pattern is established, however, you’re stuck with it (and the accompanying noise).


I have read that inside tread wear is a result of misalignment. However, if the source of the noise moves when the tires are rotated, is it misalignment, bent rim, warped tire? I check my tire pressure at least monthly and rotate regularly, so I’m not convinced that the wear is due to under inflation. I’m just trying to establish what caused the problem to begin with.


There’s not much can be done about a tire that is wearing unevenly unless it’s caught at the start.

Since I assume the problematic tires are the 2 front ones that have the wear on the inside edges this usually means one of 2 things.

One is that the vehicle has excessive negative camber. With a low miles vehicle that has not been wrecked this is unlikely.

The next, and most likely cause, is that the vehicle has too much toe-out. This means the front of the tires are spaced farther apart than the rear of the same tires. Pigeon-toed basically.
This will cause rapid wear on the inside edges and feather edging.

It’s unlikely that warranty is going to cover any of this since an alignment will be considered a maintenance item. Alignment can be affected by potholes and whatnot so warranty will not cover it.

This is actually why I always recommend an alignment now and then (say every 30-40k miles). It catches the problem before the tires are shredded.

Hope that helps answer your questions anyway. :slight_smile:


I should have added that when you talk to someone in the dealer service dept. you’re usually talking to a service advisor.

Most SAs are not mechanically literate and have a tendency to blather a bit to cover up their lack of mechanical expertise.
I’ve known a few that could barely tell the difference between a steering wheel and tail light lens.


The misalignment caused the wear pattern problem to begin with - that and the length of time that tire stayed in that one position. Once the wear pattern is in the tire, it tends to stay in the tire.

And, of course, if you hadn’t rotated tires as often as you do, the next tire in that position would have developed the same wear pattern. But rotating the tires frequently, prevented that tire (and the other tires that visited that position from becoming so bad.


Incredibly helpful info. The wear is pretty significant in my opinion. I’ll prepare for the cost implications now >:(


The warrantee on a new car usually covers alignment for some period of time, usually one year. Your warrantee book will spell it out. If it does in fact cover the alignment for one year (Honda is one year, Toyota has a time period too) and you brought your car in to the dealer within that period, then the dealer was at fault for not correcting the situation with an alignment. They should have replaced that tire as well, or all the tires if the wear was below the limit for a one tire change.

If you have the documentation, you may be able to force the dealer to now do the alignment and replace the tires, and the only cost to you should be the pro rated use of the original tires. You may have to go to the zone rep to make them do this.


All I can say is that I’ve never seen an alignment covered under warranty, but my experience has only been with VW, SAAB, Honda, Fiat, Subaru, and Nissan.
Covering alignments could open a real can of worms since one pothole, railroad track, or curb can take care of any properly adjusted alignment.

According to this site alignment is not a warrantable problem on Mazdas.
(Scroll down to ©.


I just got a call from them and the dealership said that the alignment is off ($90), all four tires’ inside tread are wearing unevenly and one rotor in front and back are causing the vibration in the breaks (covered under warranty!). The noise will persist until we change the tires out but at least will not get any worse because of the misalignment. I’m having them realign the vehicle, fix the rotors under warranty and leave the tires alone until they need changing. I can live with a $90 bill.
Thanks all!