do tires wear out uneven when a car is lowered

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Apr 15, 2005
hello all, this may sound like a rediculous question but i heard from a reputable source that tires do not wear out uneven when cars are lower and have a negative camber. I heard from this guy that a toe is what makes the tires wear out. as long as the toe is straight the tire should be find he says. he says the reason peoples tires wear out is because the alignment shop mess around with the toe too much and try to straighten out the camber by messing with the toe.
common sense and many people tell me that if i lower my 01 prelude 1-2 inches that my tires will wear out unevenly if i dont get a camber kit. is this a fact
thanks for your responses
Negative camber doesn't necessary cause uneven wear. Some cars come out of the factory with negative camber-- simply make sure your alignment adjustments are made to factory specifications.

Uneven tire wear can be the result of worn or loose suspension components. If you are installing shorter springs, then make sure you also buy performance shocks. Putting shorter springs onto factory shocks will typically blow the shocks.
There are a lot of things that can cause irregular wear.

Certainly toe is at the top of the list.

However, camber can also cause irregular wear. Look at it this way: If the tire is normally not straight up and down, how can the wear be the same on each side. This is a simplistic answer and there's a whole lot more involved than just camber.

One of the things that gets lost in these discussions is that not only is the static camber affected, but the suspension also changes camber as it moves through its travel. Most normal suspension travel goes both more negative and more positive camber. When vehicles are lowered, the new travel curves sometimes never have positive camber - always negative.

The other thing that can be a problem, particularly with a vehicle that is being driven ....ah....let's call it "with more spirit"....... is the Ackerman. It's the difference between the toe in the straight ahead position and the toe in cornering. This will frequently cause the inside tire to drag and the result is inside shoulder wear.

Hope this helps.
On some lowered cars, no matter how much you try and properly align the tires, the negative camber will eat up your tires.

Caster / Camber plates help a bit......but don't expect for them to get rid of all tire wear.
dont know how related this is, but I had a bad front wheel bearing that caused scalloping and accelerated wear. I would have to guess that raising/lowering exerts irregular forces on the bearings, causing wear spots, etc. This translated through to the tire and wears it faster.

Tires will wear true when the whole of the contact patch is equally loaded. The factory suspension alignments actually include the ride height as part of the alignment numbers. Lowering the car puts it into a 'different' region in the suspension alignments issue. However, it is generally close enough that the factory alignment numbers are still a good starting pint. Springs and Anti-roll bars also influence the alignment settings since they control the amount of movement at a given corner in response to the weight transfer of forces being applied at the contact patch and the CoG. So, the only real way of sorting all this out is to find some way of measuring what is going on. This is where the probe tipped pyrometer comes in. The probe tip is important because tires cool off at a rapid rate (on the surface) so by jabbing the probe tip in a couple of mm you get an accurate indication of the loading on that part of the tire.

One can measure the contact patch loading by driving the car in a spirited manner and then using a probe tipped pyrometer to see if the contact patch is rather evenly loaded. Take three measurements of the contact patch at the outer edge, the center and the inner edge. And take measurements of all 4 tires (12 measurements in total)

If there is a straight line connecting all the measurements, then the tire is inflated to the correct pressure. If the center is high, so is the air pressure, and conversely when the center is low the tire is underinflated.

One uses camber to adjust the slope of the line from inner edge to outer edge. If the outside of the tire is running hot, add camber, if the inside edge is running hot, subtract some camber.

Caster only interacts with all of this by moving the pressure point of the contact patch towards the inside edge as steering is applied but before the car has rolled in the turn and the suspension deflects and the camber changes. So, just stick with the factory caster numbers unless you knowingly want some different steering feel.

Once you get camber correct, you can move the pressure point of the contact patch around using (very slight) changes in toe; which may want a slight change in air pressure (and round and round)

When set up correctly, you want the inner edge of the tire to run about 10dF hotter than the outer edge -- because the outer edge is being cooled by the onrush of ambient air (that does not hit the inner edge :: closed wheeled cars). If you can achieve this condition, the tires will run long and true -- at whatever suspension alignments, ride heights, and air pressures you have dialed in.

If you have gone to the trouble of lowering your car, and want it to perform correctly with good tire life, get a probe tipped pyrometer, learn how to use it, and become friends with a suspension alignement mechanic.
Also note:

Suspensions should be aligned with the car sitting on its tires at OPERATING pressures not cold pressures. Starting with cold tires set to recommended pressures, take that sprited drive and measure the hot pressures. Have the car aligned with hot pressures, then reduce to cold pressures when you drive back from the alignment shop.

To get the car "just right" :: as long as you have lowered the car, get it corner weighted with you sitting in the drivers seat and 1/2 tank of gas. This is easily done (if time consuming) with adjustible shock towers.
thanks everyone for your help, a lot of the stuff was difficult to understand because of technical terms. but i got the jist of it.
I'm almost positive that your Lude doesn't have factory camber adjusters which, without a kit, will be next to impossible to bring back into spec once you're done causing tire wear issues due to aligment. This applies to the rear tires as well. As mentioned before some negative camber is designed into the factory spec, most Hondas run up to -1.0* camber in the rear. I lowered my Honda civic with the appropriate alignment hardware, set it close to factory spec, rotate religiously (3k miles) and I don't eat tires. Haven't had time to try the pyrometer route and lost my friend at the alignment shop.
Good luck.
a small amount of camber is inconsequential, however excessive lowering causes camber like this /-\ and you end up wearing the inside edges extremely quickly

Frankly, if you want my opinion, a 2" drop is WAY too much unless you have true coil-overs, progressive springs, and a fully tuned suspension. With lower springs & shocks like AGX's or Tokico's, a 1" drop is ideal for most cars. With 2" it "looks" cooler, but handles *worse* than stock.

This is why we call eibach "sportlines" "ricelines". Looks < performance, IMO.

Anyhow, fun stuff.
If you were going to drop 2" on coilovers, I'd use single rate springs, not progressive. Eibach ERS springs; you can select the diameter, length, and the spring rate.

A great damper is the Koni Sport 'yellows' combine that with Ground Control coilovers and custom rate Eibach ERS srpings, and you are good to go after you get yourself corner balanced and aligned. You can even get the dampers revalved to SPSS specs, which can handle higher spring rates then off the shelf Koni yellows, as well as get the bodies shortened. OTS konis can handle about 600 in/lbs from what I've read and talked to with the rebuilders.

I personally would not waste my efforts and money on Tokico or AGX dampers; the Koni/GC setup has been a proven combination. Tokico and AGX dampers are better suited for OE replacements, they are not, in my opinion, a 'performance' damper. Many of the top Honda Challenge cars in NASA are using Koni/GC setup, as well as many auto-crossers. 2" may or may not be too much of a drop, depending on a multitude of factors including suspension angles, binding, travel etc and what you plan to use the car for.

Most sport springs (Eibach Sports, Neuspeed, etc) and OE springs [that come on the majority of driven cars] are progressive.
In additon to what everyone else stated (it dorks em up big time) bump steer can also be a real problem.

It also devalues most cars and makes them hard to sell. If your building a race car thats one thing, but for the street the stock susp geometry can't be beat.
thanks for your info guys. here is the deal, I think i need new shocks. i figure if i get new shocks i might as well do things. i am not really a fan of lowering cars. but i go to the track about every other month. if i can keep my stock hieght i would love it. but i want to get what best. even half an inch lower wouldnt hurt for me. i am just very worried about tire wear, cause i buy expensive tires.
anyways chris w thanks alot fo your input. i am highly considering koni adjustable and coilovers. here are my few concerns.
1) i hear that if i get adjustable, they get out of wack all the time, have to go back in shops often to get readjusted.
2)i get confused when people start talkinga bout 600 lbs etc, some people go. put 600 in fronts and 800 in back.
2. now your talking about progressive and dampers and spring rate.
chris w. what would u recommend for daily driving and then going to the track. and another thing. isnt adjusting alittle hard. i know i had adjustable springs once and u just get a flat head and adjust it. but i hear when u adjust it,. the shock gets out of wack etc. so lost
"....but i go to the track about every other month....i am just very worried about tire wear...."

You have to get rid of one of those. High performance driving = tire wear
oh , i have two sets of tires. both sets are expensive in my opinion, worn down s03 that work better than my gsd3 f1 good years street.
i am planning to get some r compound tires for the track.
the tire wear im talking about is the uneven tire wear.
i just dont want good tires except for a ten percent portion of the tire. i driven with bald tires in the insde of the tire and good on the outside of the tire. it just doesnt feel right/
then id get a camber kit.

id go with ground control and tokico adjustables or anything adjustable. if you order ground control from the dealer u can buy a certain spring rate and then use the adjustables to control the ride.

on my honda accord i put eibach prokit springs, they are progressive but its the best for my car and application.
i totally thought of that. but i been told two things. if i get springs and shocks, i need to set the shocks adjusted to a certain lbs, i.e 600 lbs pressure in front 800lbs pressure in back.
if i reraise the car, my shocks suppidly dotn work as well. the setting change or osmething. and its a lot of hassleing.
the only thing with camber kit is. i want negative camber on the track. so i guess my new questions is.
HOW hard is it to adjust camber with camber kit then???????
What kind of tracking do you do? HPDE? Autocossing?
Could you deal with the stiffness of a track setup used for daily driven?

The most widely used and proven combination on Hondas is the Koni 'Yellow' sport dampers with Ground Control coilovers [and custom rate springs].

I'd highly reccomend getting a set of 'track' wheels for your R compounds if you have the money, and space to spare.

But more importantly, seat time will improve your skill and time better than anyhing else, in my opinion.

Oh and when racing competitively on the track, just about everything except the engine should be considered a consumable, brakes, wheels bearings, balljoints, bushings, wheels (yes they do get bent or spokes crack more often than you'd think), tires, etc.

I'll type more later, its about 1:40am right now, and I'm tired.
I hpde driving. I get as much time as the track as possible. my question now is. how easy is it to adjust things like camber kit, shocks and springs. i hear adjusting really sucks but some people say its easy.
example is i use to be able to adjust some shocks I had on my old car turning a screw like thing with numbers with a flat head. i didnt even really feel a differents. i am highly considering kyb and groundcontrols.
The off-the-shelf Koni sport yellows are only rebound adjustable, this is done via a knob on top of the shock shaft. The konis are infinitely adj, 2.5 sweeps. The best way to adjust them is to adjust and see how the car drives and what your lap times are; there really isnt a formula you could use because there are many factors including track condotions, spring rates, etc.

As far as coilovers, set the ride height you want, and then get it aligned and cornerweighted. You won't have to get them adjusted again unless you had different track conditions, or road conditions for daily driving and wanted to change the ride height to adapt.

Remember, everytime you change the ride height, you change the suspension geometries, and would have to get it re-aligned. Many Honda-Challenge racers align their own cars using the 'string' method and with toe plates or a 'smart camber gauge'; it can be very accurate.

I reccomend the Koni 'yellow' sports over the KYB AGX; they are a much better damper/shock. The price of the Konis are well worth it.

You're on the right track by thinking of ground controls; if you are serious about tracking the car, then think about getting custom rate springs instead of off-the-shelf rates. Maybe 450in/lb front and 500in/lb rear would work well for the 'lude. It would be stiff compared to your stock suspension, but not overly unbearable on the streets.

Also think about getting a bigger rear anti-sway bar, it will help you rotate better and keep the handling more neutral (hondas are tuned for understeer from the factory) without having to go to [insanely] high (like 650+) spring rates that'd be just about unbearable on the streets.

Oh, and great tire life (compared to daily driving) and tracking don't belong in the same sentence. Since you are going to have a dual purpose car, you have to make some comprimises; thats why i'd suggest getting a track-only set of wheels and tires.
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