Most people have a general idea of tire alignment and the implications of a misalignment. You may hear mechanics and auto enthusiasts use the terms “toe-in” and “toe-out” when discussing car tire toe alignment. We’ll explain what they all mean.
Toe-in/toe-out refers to a tire’s geometry and how much it’s turned with respect to the center-line axis of the car.
When the wheels are toed-in, the front part of the tires are pointed inward.
The front part of the wheels is turned slightly outward.
See this image for a visual representation of a toe-in vs a toe-out. Keep in mind that the toe alignment is not the same thing as a tire balance.
Feathered tire wear is the primary reason the wheels toe in or out. Feathered wear refers to tread wear that is greater on one side of the tire. This is why we recommend a tire check as part of an auto service. Toe misalignment may also be a sign of suspension wear or saggy springs. It may also arise due to a collision or driving over a deep pothole.
Race car drivers may purposefully toe their tires in or out for better control. A toe-in on the racetracks creates better straight-line stability. A toe-out configuration, on the other hand, helps with the car’s cornering ability.
Unless you race your car on the track, neither configuration is good for the car. Prolonged toe-in or toe-out accelerates tread wear; and the wear won’t be even.
Bring your car to Bothell Way Garage for an auto repair if you see signs of uneven tread wear. Classic cars may also be susceptible due to having an older-style suspension system. The right car tire toe alignment is important for preserving a tire’s life.
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