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Does Towing Cause Uneven Tyre Wear?
29 April 2016


Using your vehicle as a tow is one of the many benefits of owning a larger 4x4 vehicle. But with frequent towing there are a few issues that can arise if you’re unaware of the possibility of the misalignment of your axles, or exceeding the recommended amount of weight for your trailer. One of the most common effects of incorrectly towing is uneven tyre wear, not to mention decreased fuel economy and, in the most extreme cases, costly repairs. So, what causes uneven tyre wear exactly, and how can it be prevented?

Uneven Tyre Wear Causes

Incorrectly aligned trailers – Trailer wheel alignment is just as important as the alignment of the wheels on the towing vehicle. If your trailer is not aligned in the correct position, then tyres can wear unevenly on the outer or inner edge, dependent on which side is working harder to maintain the trailer’s stability.

Exceeding the speed limit – Driving faster than the legal 50mph-60mph limit with a caravan towed to your 4x4 can have negative wear on the tyres over time, as they are not suitable for driving at these speeds with extra weight attached.

Overloading a trailer – Exceeding the weight limit of your vehicle by overloading a trailer can cause the axles in your vehicle to bend from the strain. Once affected, this can drastically effect your all-round wheel alignment. 

Misaligned axles – If your axles have been misaligned due to an overloaded trailer, then not repairing them can have lasting effects on your tyres. With even one axle misaligned, your working tyres will have to perform even harder to compensate, causing uneven wear on more than one tyre.

What types of tyre wear are there?

There are two main types of uneven tyre wear that can occur when trailer axle alignment or wheel alignment are uneven: one-sided wear and rapid shoulder wear.

Tyre Wear Caused By Axle Misalignment

One-sided wear occurs through excessive toe-in or toe-out, where the wheels are either inverted or everted. When trailer wheel alignment is out or the load is too heavy, this can result in the misalignment of your 4x4 wheels. If skewed in this way, then the tyres will wear unevenly across the whole tyre. Dependent on if the wheels are inverted or everted, the adjacent rib of the tyre will wear to a lesser extent.

Rapid Shoulder Wear

Rapid shoulder wear can occur through camber or caster, which is if the wheels are inverted or everted from the front profile, as opposed to overhead. Shoulder wear therefore occurs on the inside or outside of the tyre, in one localised location. This form of uneven tyre wear is also caused by an incorrectly aligned trailer, which can in turn result in damaging your 4x4 tyres.

How Can I Prevent Uneven Tyre Wear?

Incorrect trailer wheel alignment can cause major damage to your tyres. Making sure that your trailer wheels are fully aligned will stop any axel damage from occurring, as will making sure that your trailer does not exceed the recommended load capacity. Setting the designed kingpin height of your trailer correctly and ensuring the axle alignment is correct will also help to keep your trailer aligned at all times. Ensuring that you have no previous axel damage to your towing vehicle is also a good way to ensure that no further damage occurs.

Uneven tyre wear can affect the rate in which your tyres wear down across a single, or number of tyres, which can be potentially very dangerous in the long run if one area is worn down too quickly. Ensuring that you tow any trailer with all the above recommendations in mind, will make sure your tyres wear down safely and evenly.

If you think your 4x4 tyres may need replacing before a long journey towing a trailer, get in touch with 4SITE 4x4 Tyres. Or use our Tyre Selector to find the best 4x4 tyres for your vehicle. With a large network of approved 4x4 Tyre Centres we can ensure that your brand new tyres are fitted by experienced engineers.


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