Front tires wear on outside edge due to wheel misalignment. It may be caused by the suspension moving out of its proper position, however, other car parts may be the reason.
These are the potentially damaged mechanical parts:
- Worn ball joints.
- Sagging springs.
- A bent strut or spindle.
- Out-of-position strut tower.
- Worn out control arm bushings.
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Causes of Front Tires Wear on Outside Edge
When the camber setting becomes positive, the wheel tilts, putting more pressure on the outside shoulder of its tire. Over time, as rubber scrubs off faster on the one edge, the tire develops uneven wear, which may become dangerous.
The suspension may move out of alignment after you hit a large pothole or are involved in an accident. Check the wheel alignment after hard hits, when installing new tires or suspension parts, and when rotating tires. If you don’t plan to change anything and have no road hazard-related accidents, check the alignment every 6,000-12,000 miles. As the wheels and suspension get older, the inspections need to be done more frequently.
NOTE: Wheel alignment should not be confused with tire balancing. Balance issues cause cupping, not front tires wearing on the outside edge.
Cost of Wheel Alignment
Wheel alignment costs $75-$150, depending on the state, vehicle, and tire shop. The price may be up to $200 if you get it done at a dealership and get a one- to three-year service. Some dealerships also offer an unlimited warranty for about $170. If you want to save money, you can also try to fix the alignment of the wheels yourself.
Worn Ball Joints
Front tires wear on outside edge, as well as slight feathering closer to the center, are the first signs of wearing out and/or a failing ball joint. As the part ages and wears, it makes the wheels point slightly outward, meaning the toe setting of the wheel alignment is out. In this case, the wear will be less noticeable, as with a positive camber, but is not any less dangerous. Camber wear may also be connected to the ball joint-related issue.
Cost of Ball Joint Replacement
Replacing four ball joints and aligning the wheels, to eliminate front tires wear on outside edge, costs about $600-$700. If you also need to replace the control arm, the cost may be about $1,400-$1,500. If you need to replace one ball joint, it may cost you $250 to $400. The price depends on the vehicle you drive. Or, you can replace the ball joints yourself.
NOTE: The lower ball joints may wear out sooner, as they carry the weight of your vehicle the entire time it’s on the ground.
A constant load weakens the springs, making them lose arch (leaf spring) or/and height (coil spring). Front tires wearing on the outside edge is usually a result of aging coil springs. As they lose height, so does the vehicle, causing the whole suspension to misalign, especially in camber. If the leaf springs are also sagging or wearing out, they cause caster misalignment, which may worsen the situation.
Cost of Spring Replacement
The replacement of a single spring may cost from $215 to $439. The price of the part itself may be about $114 and $205, while the labor may be $101 to $234, depending on the place. The price may vary due to the taxes not included in the estimate. You can also try to replace coil springs yourself.
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Bent Struts or Spindles
The struts determine the camber position of the suspension, and if they’re bent, the alignment also changes. Consequentially, front tires will wear on outside edge or the inside one, depending on the change.
Usually, the top of the strut or the camber bolt on the bottom of it is moved or rotated to achieve optimal camber. When the part bends and the setting misaligns, the best fix is to replace it. However, some tire shops offer straightening if the part isn’t damaged too much.
As to spindles, excessive pressure on the wheel hub can cause a vibration, which may result in a bent one. As it bends, it may change the alignment of the wheel, and if you don’t notice it in time, the tire may develop uneven wear.
Cost of Bent Strut or Spindle Repair
Replacing a bent strut may cost $488-$597, depending on the place and model of your vehicle. The price includes labor (about $290-$367) and the part cost (approximately $198-$230). Some places have higher prices of about $700, and if you have a luxurious car, you may pay $1,000-$1,500. You can also replace the struts yourself and save about $300.
If your front tires wear on outside edge due to a spindle issue, the repair may cost about $200, while installing a new one may be about $300. This includes the part price of about $140, and labor cost, which may depends on the tire shop you go to. Additional damages may add significantly to the price. For example, if the shaft is also damaged, you may need to pay as much as $4,000 to repair it.
Out-Of-Position Strut Tower
The strut tower may move out of position due to age, as the metal rusts and weakens. When it does, the camber setting of the wheel becomes misaligned, making the front tires wear on outside edge. Strut towers help stabilize your vehicle, especially at high speeds, so you may also have difficulty controlling the car. If the tower fails, you may lose control of the vehicle completely.
Cost of Strut Tower Repair
Strut tower repair may cost about $300, including the part price and labor. The price may rise rapidly to about $3,000, if you need to replace the whole tower. You can do it yourself, buying all needed materials beforehand. You can also do it with a repair kit, which costs about $50, and a special adhesive for about $55.
Worn Out Control Arm Bushings
Bushings act like cartilage between suspension parts, and when it’s worn out, the control arm moves out of its proper position, causing wheel misalignment. As the camber setting suffers the most due to such damage, you may notice front tires wear on outside edge.
The bushings may wear prematurely, due to harsh road conditions, salt, stress, and heat. If they crack or wear and you notice it, consider replacing the whole part, because it may be damaged as well.
Cost of Control Arm Bushings Repair
The cost may vary between $211 and $669, including labor cost of about $96 to $256 and part price of $115 to $413. Not including taxes and additional fees, the price may change depending on the place you go and your vehicle model. You also can install the new bushings yourself and save money on labor.
Risks of Front Tires Wearing on the Outside Edge
The more worn the outer edge of the tire, the bigger the risk of a tire blowout. Also, as the tire wears, it may go below the legal minimum tread depth of 2/32”. You should consider such tires bald and replace them as soon as possible. If not replaced, they may expose cords, which is serious damage that can cause a flat tire. To make sure none of the important parts are damaged, inspect them before every wheel alignment or a routine maintenance procedure.