I've got a (cheap) set of tires on my '98 Escort wagon, about 25-30K
miles on 'em. A couple of months ago I noticed the rear tires have
significantly uneven wear; almost no tread left on the outer edge.
Front tires are fine. Inner edge of rear tires is also fine.
Unfortunately I can't remember when they were last rotated - last few
oil changes I have gone to a quick-lube place that does NOT routinely
rotate. Safe to say that this problem is in the rear suspension
Shop where I bought the tires said the alignment looks fine, they're
puzzled as to why this is happening. I looked at the springs [yes they
are still the OEM springs] and they look OK to me, not missing the
lower coil. So I don't know what to think.
Any ideas on this?
If the alignment is really ok then the tires are just worn out. This is
they are near slick on the outer edge with only a few 32nds of tread on the
These cars rarely wear rear tires perfectly even across the tread. If there is
than, say, 3/32" of tread on the inside there is a camber concern. Hard
cause the rear tires to wear in a similar pattern, so stay off the road courses
that wagon ;) Regular tire rotation will help to prevent uneven wear on all 4
I'm not sure I trust that shop, so I was hoping someone would pop up
and say "You fool! You obviously didn't adjust the widget nuts!" :)
There are 5 bands of tread across the tire. The outer one is almost
invisible, it's completely gone. The inner one has at _least_ 1/8"
tread, probably more. Way uneven. The wear on the inner edge of these
rear tires is approximately the same as the wear all across the front
Do they routinely adjust camber on rear wheels as part of the standard
alignment process on a FWD vehicle?
Must be my wife practicing for the next soccer mom NASCAR, I'll have a
word to her when she gets back home ;)
Ok, here goes: "You fool!!! You didn't properly adjust the widget nuts!! How
be so neglectful! I'll bet you never serviced your muffler bearings or changed
headlight fluid either, did you!! You should never been granted the priviledge
owning an Escort wagon!! You, SIR, get the Yugo... And that goes for your little
How's that? :)
Given the fact that the tires were never rotated this may be "normal", or at
just within the "normal range". Camber is set within a range, for instance +1
to -1 degree. If you are just at the outer edge of the "ok" range (say,+.8
using cheap tires, and not rotating them you could very well get a wear pattern
you describe. Especially after 30-something thousand miles. 1/8" (4/32") is
darn close to the wear bars. They usually show at 3/32" remaining.
I don't recall if the camber is adjustable on this vintage Escort wagon, I
think not. If not, there is a kit to make it adjustable. Ideally, when checked,
closer to 0 degrees the better on rear camber, IIRC. You want as close to 0" as
possible on the rear toe setting also.
I've never been a wheel alignment guru like some folks I've worked with. Maybe
someone else here can offer some more in depth info about dialing your car in to
particular driving situation.
Hmmm, Soccer Mom Nascar. Now there's an idea.... IMHE, Soccer moms will kill
a left turn in heavy traffic...
:) I did _drain_ my headlight fluid the other day, does that count?
(Darn steamed-up reflectors...)
For "little dog" read "one 75lb and one 58lb American Staffordshire
Terrier mix", but otherwise that's pretty good :)
Hmmm, thanks for the discussion. The car is due for inspection in
February, at which time this issue would fail it for sure. I've now got
to decide if it's worth sinking the money on a real good set of tires,
plus a couple of other "fail-worthy" issues. Hmm.
Maybe I will swap the wheels, or at least two of them, off one of my
other cars. I have a 93 Corolla, which I think uses the same bolt
pattern, and it has the same type (different brand) of tires on it.
I work in Long Island, New York - home to possibly the worst, most
arrogant and least-apologetic drivers in the world, and with more
soccer moms per square mile than any place I know (except maybe
Greenwich, CT, with Rye, NY coming a close second). I injured my neck a
while ago, and for a week or so I couldn't turn my head to the left.
During this time I joked that I was driving normally for the area -
i.e. never checking my blind spots when changing lanes. These people
routinely weave in and out of 70mph traffic, turn left from the
right-hand lane, overtake in the emergency lane (even when there's a
rumble strip), and tailgate/honk if they're behind you while you're
doing 60 (in the right-hand lane of a 3-lane road with a 50mph limit).
If you see an MD plate (doctor, not Maryland) assume that the driver
believes himself to be immortal and with diplomatic immunity, too.
If everyone on the island had their license suspended for a year, the
overall traffic accident rate in New York State would probably halve. I
can't wait to move!!!!
There are two schools of thought on that one. And they both have
valid reasons behind them, so you have to consider the driver.
Your "put the best tires on the rear" is valid on passenger cars
SUV's and mini-vans, because often the drivers are not well-versed in
the realities of driving and don't really know how to drive when
things go wrong - their reaction to a unusual instance (Accident,
flat, blowout, sudden obstruction, etc.) is usually to nail the brakes
to full lock-up and stiff-arm straight ahead on the wheel (no evasive
steering) till they come to a stop.
For those who DO know how to drive, a blowout or flat in the rear is
no big deal, you can handle it fairly easy - get off the gas, ease on
the brakes, don't let the rear get squirrely and catch it if it tries
to swap ends on you, ease over to the shoulder...
But a blowout in the front is much harder to actively control,
because the front wheels provide all your directional control and most
of your effective braking. And a tire coming apart on the front can
induce violent unintended steering corrections that will have to be
manhandled with brute force to overcome - if the tread wraps around
the brake rotor and locks solid, you have to work at keeping out of
the ditch. I'd rather have the best tires on the front so I can steer
through the incident when a rear one comes apart.
On large trucks and semi-tractors there are Federal Laws that the
tires on the front steering axle must be new first-quality tires that
have a much lower chance of coming apart while driving - no recaps, no
regrooves, no Blems or seconds. And loss of directional control is
--<< Bruce >>--
probably a combo of cheap tires (sidewall), a little low pressure, not
rotating, and cornering. I would get some good tires and watch it
closely. (oh and rotate them):) look at the back of the wagon, does it
LOOK like the camber is off?, you can actually see about 2 degrees(IIRC)
if its off. So, if it looks wrong it will be.
My wife took it in, and in the course of checking the wheel alignment
they discovered a "ready-to-come-apart" ball joint and bad tie rod.
They want $500 incl tax (minus some change) to fix this and fit two new
I can't really do much about it, since she already said yes, but:
1. Could this front-end problem be causing the rear-end outer edge wear
I mentioned? (Bear in mind I never felt a symptom of this supposedly
incipient ball joint failure).
2. Does this price sound about right? (Most of the other work this shop
has done for me is a shade higher than "normal" prices people have
mentioned in this NG).
3. Is it even sensible to replace a single failed ball joint -
shouldn't they do both at once?
Assuming 2 quality tires, ball joint (control arm asy), tie rod end, and 4
alignment, just shy of $500 isn't unreasonable. It's about $75-100 more than I
expect to pay in my area (Northern Ohio) but prices tend to be a little higher
Ball joint wear on Escorts isn't uncommon. IIRC, the joint is part of the
control arm and not servicable separately. The part can get pricy, so
the other good joint isn't really necessary.
OK, that's reassuring. (But damn. You mean I should move back to Akron?
Actually I used to live in Copley, which is just outside the Akron city
limits. Everything was so cheap there, but I felt like a space alien at
The $6,000,000 question is: do you think this could really be the cause
of my _rear-end_ tire wear?
Ball joints on 98 Escorts are serviceable separately from the lower control
Very easy to replace, as are the tie-rod ends (a very common problem). But
dealer price of a ball joint is around $85 and for a tie-rod end around $45,
that the total price of $500 is a little high.
The tie rod part price on the invoice was $47.51 (Valucraft VES3048R),
and the ball joint was $68.51 (Duralast FA2092). 1.10 hours labor
charged for each of them = $143 labor total for this part of the
Tires were $75 each (Cooper Trendsetter SE 185/65R14, same as the tires
they were replacing) plus $65 labor (for both, not each).
4-wheel alignment was $89.95, listed as "sublet" which I guess means it
was outsourced to some other shop.
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