What's causing the funky wear pattern on my tires?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Apr 01, 1999

Dear Tom and Ray:

I have a '95 Toyota Corolla. Despite having bought new tires and having several
wheel alignments, I still get a sawtooth-shaped tire wear pattern. Each little
nub of rubber on the tire becomes individually slanted, like the teeth on a
circular-saw blade. After about 10,000 miles, the road noise becomes an annoying
whine, and the steering wheel shimmies. When I have the alignment checked they
say it's completely within spec, and they don't see any signs of damage. I don't
drive the car in any unusual ways. Why is this happening? -- Elaine

TOM: If you trust the guy who checked the alignment and the car has not been in
an accident, then several possibilities come to mind, Elaine. One is that you're
buying the cheapest possible tires known to man. Really cheap tires wear quickly
and in funny ways, so if you've been buying the $29.95 tires at Tires R Us, that
may be why you're having continual problems.

RAY: The other possibility is that your shocks are worn out. If your shocks
aren't doing their job (keeping the tires from bouncing off the road), that
constant bouncing will scuff the tires and you'll end up with unusual wear

TOM: And of course, both of these could be true. So if you're sure the alignment
is correct, ask your mechanic to check your shocks, and if they're worn, replace
them. And if your tires cost less than your monthly cable TV bill, get a good set
and start over again.

What's the best way to warm up your engine in the morning? Find out by ordering
Tom and Ray's pamphlet "Ten Ways You May Be Ruining Your Car Without Even Knowing
It!" Send $3 and a stamped (55 cents), self-addressed, No. 10 envelope to Ruin,
PO Box 6420, Riverton, NJ 08077-6420.

?(C) 1999 by Tom and Ray Magliozzi and Doug Berman
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

Get the Car Talk Newsletter

Got a question about your car?

Ask Someone Who Owns One