If you noticed that one or more of your tires are exhibiting signs of abnormal wear or is wearing out at a suspiciously fast rate, it may be a sign that there are other problems with your vehicle.
Your wheel alignment is out of manufacturer specifications
If your wheel alignment is out of spec, it means that your wheel aren’t pointing perfectly in the direction they are supposed to. It causes a condition known as tire scrub - where the tire move slightly sideways when it is rotating. You will get excessive wear on one tire or possibly a pair of tires, and it may or may not be accompanied by a steering pull at highway speeds. Your steering wheel may also not be centered when driving in a straight line. Improper wheel alignment is correctable as your suspension has adjustment bolts.
The suspension has a faulty component
If your suspension contains a worn out or loose component such as a leaked-out strut, it can cause excessive tire wear on that particular wheel. If a strut is worn, that wheel will bounce more than it should when going over bumps and rough road surfaces. It creates extra friction on that tire that can dramatically reduce the tire’s life and tread condition. It is recommended that you replace a faulty suspension component and have a wheel alignment performed.
The steering system has a loose or worn part
Nearly every part of the steering system can cause wear on the front tires if it is worn out or loose. Steering components don’t just allow you to turn; they hold the front wheels in a steady alignment no matter which direction the steering wheel is pointed. If the wheels are not held steady, they can shimmy and shake, causing excessive wear and scrubbing on the road surface. It is dangerous to drive with loose steering, since you will lose control if a loose or worn part breaks.
The braking system has excessive drag or a seized component
Imagine driving around all day with your foot on the brake partially. That’s what it’s like if a brake component such as a brake caliper is stuck. If the brakes are dragging, not only will the tires wear much faster but your fuel economy will suffer greatly. Sometimes it can be as straightforward as having your brakes adjusted while other times parts may need to be replaced.
No matter what the cause is, if you notice your tires are wearing faster than normal, have your brakes, steering and suspension inspected and repaired as soon as possible. You could avoid a potentially dangerous situation or an additional expensive repair.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as Why Are My Tires Wearing Out Faster Than Normal? and was authored by Jason Unrau.