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'98 Corolla LE
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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I have a mostly trouble free'98 Corolla LE that's coming up on 100k miles. I changed out all the struts and brakes at the begining of '08, put on new tires and had the car aligned as the rear tire wear was VERY odd, "lumpy" as you can see in the video below, especially on the inner side of the tire. Same thing is happening again with a little over 20k on the new tires.

Anyone have thoughts as to what the root cause might be? Rear bearings and bushings all seem fine, no movement or play at all. Maybe bad/no alignment was really done, or a issue with this kind of tire (Yoko Avid)? Just trying to avoid putting new tires on and having it happen yet again. Thanks in advance for any input or suggestions.

 

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I'm going to guess overinflated tires. I had a similar problem on one of my tires that was inflated to 40psi, when I believe the Corolla spec is 30psi.
 

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If you have this kind of wear, you have something bent in the rear suspension. Wear like that is nothing normal. A trip to a competent alignment tech will probably reveal the issue.

Replacing the tires will do nothing but produce another set that matches these.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Yeah, that vid was taken the first time, before I replaced everything and had it aligned. "New" tires are doing the same thing, but that vid illustrates the tire wear better.

I'll need to get new tires (for the rear anyway) before the snow and want to see if I can find the problem before installing them and having it re-aligned again. Would be disheartening to have this happen a third time. If it's just a matter of a bad/incompetent alignment having been done, I can try to seek out a better shop. But I've never seen that odd wear pattern before and thought I'd post to get opinions on what may be the cause.
 

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What I see in the vid looks like cupping. Overinflated tires would theoretically produce excessive wear in the middle of the tire. But I run mine at 46psi (!) at times and after a few track days the outside still gets chewed up faster.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks, def not overinflated. Always keep them at 32 and they'll go down to 30 if I don't get to recheck for 4-6 mo's.

Sorry the vid isn't better, doesn't run as well as the original does. It's like someone took a grinder on the inside half and dished it every 6" resulting in very high and low spots. Same in the middle, but to a lesser degree. Used to be smooth as silk at highway speeds a few years back, was a very nice ride, now it's a totally different scene.
 

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Well there is defiantly a possibility of something being bent and there is also a possibility that it was not aligned properly. choppy sweeping accross the tire is textbook toe out of spec.
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
Could well be both! I'd assume they would have told me about a bent component during the last alignment, but maybe not.

If there is something bent, can I tell by looking or is it something that shows up when the car is being adjusted on the alignment rack? Also, if the toe is out that far, can I measure it to see by comparing the distance between the front edges of the rear tire to the distance between the rear edges, or is it something that again needs to be seen on the rack?
 

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Gearhead
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A worn strut can cause "cupping" or scalloping of the tire like that on the tire - as the strut cannot reliably dampen while driven. Bent or worn suspension, bad bearing, bent hub, worn bushings - can also cause that sort of wear.

Sometimes a bad wheel balance can cause this issue - very rarely will cause this sort of damage, unless it is one of those tires that don't like to be overinflated. Easy way to check is to verify how much wheel weight is on the wheel - any more than 2oz in total is too much. The tech should have dismounted the tire, spun it and rebalanced it.

In any case, looks like that tire is too far gone to try and salvage - would have to ask the tire tech to be sure, can't really tell from the video.
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
Well the struts are all less than 3 years old so I'm hoping that's not the cause.

Bought the tires thru Tire Rack and went with one of their recommeded installers in my area. They do the tire install, balance, align, and hand you a sheet with the old and new alignment spec's and everyone is happy. I even went back within 6 mo's for a free re-alignment.

Well a friend of mine did the same thing shortly after me for his 850 wagon, and within a few months, he had a tie rod end go bad. We picked up a new one and went to install, but the adjusting nut on the driver's side was absolutely frozen in place. Nothing worked to free it, including heat, so we had to cut it off. This seemed proof to me that they didn't even attempt to align his car once (or maybe IF) they came across the frozen nut. We took great care to install the new tie rod end to the same length as the old one, and sure enough, his new tires wore unevenly/quickly. So maybe all this comes down to a bad alignment? But my tire wear is so unusual (to me anyway), I figured I'd post to see if anyone had any thoughts before I dive back in with a different alignment place...
 

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Toe being out of spec is the single worst thing for tires as far as wear. You putting on the tie rod and eye balling it might have looked like it was in the right spot but is most likely pretty far out. If the shop came across a frozen tie rod, they can sometimes try to counter it with the other side. This can cause bump steer and other symptoms.

My .02 is to get the car on a lift and look for anything that is bent or any sign of an accident.

Also you got your struts just under 3 years ago. That could be just long enough for an aftermarket strut to go bad especially if those 3 years were high mileage driving or abusive driving such as pot holes and such.

Just my .02.
 

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Hi guys. I just wanted to chime in on this. I've also got a '98 Prism (190k) and have just replaced the driver's side rear tire for a third time in ~2 years.
The first replacement was very soon after I purchased the car, used, with about 135k miles on it. As I got the odd tire wear I assumed it was just a cheap-o tire, or a defective one, etc. It was replaced with a Yoko Avid.. I replaced the whole set of four. Same tendency to wear it exactly as you have mentioned... cupped out, or scalloped...dishing out... whatever you want to call it... and a bit worse on the inside than the outside. I've just replaced that same tire again, as it has exhibited the same wear characteristics.

Soooo, either we're both getting taken to the cleaners by the alignment shop... or we're both getting defective tires from Yoko... or we both have a mechanical issue. A trusted mechanic friend of mine has suggested replacing the struts, as he feels that's what's allowing the tire/wheel to "hop" down the road... as I see your post, it makes me wonder.

I notice that you say your '98 is about to rack up 100k. Does that mean that you aren't driving it a lot right now? I mean to say... I drive a little over 100 miles/day...so it's pretty easy for me to notice this wear. You replaced struts 3 years ago... does that equate to 10k miles?....or 60k miles? It would seem that worn struts would be an easy way to produce this issue.
Keep us posted please!
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Sorry to hear you're having this issue too, but thanks for the reply. I put about 9k on per year, so that would be about 27k give or take on the new tires and struts.

We've had this car since new and the original tires were the mediocre Goodyear Integrity's. Second set was the Yoko Avid Touring-S, and the car was so smooth going down the highway on decent pavement it was amazing! But eventually the problem showed up on the rear tires, which you see in the video above. So then we went with the Avid TRZ and they're showing the same wear pattern. I'd say after about 27k, but it's been happening for a while now, just haven't got to check it, so it probably started much sooner.

So my plan at this point is to hopefully find a decent alignment shop and see if they can determine the issue before I go ahead and get new tires. When it's all said and done, new tires, mount and balance, alignment, etc, it's an expensive proposition to not have it all done properly. And the kicker is that the only way I can determine if it's fixed is by racking up miles and checking tire wear, and if it's not fixed, a year or more has passed and the tires are already on their way out.

That being said, I think I'm going to switch back to the Touring-S for the next set of tires...

Thanks again for all the replies so far.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
When my original struts went bad, they were leaking oil. Other than the "bounce test", which seems fine on the current struts, is there any other way to check a strut to see if it's bad or not?
 

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When my original struts went bad, they were leaking oil. Other than the "bounce test", which seems fine on the current struts, is there any other way to check a strut to see if it's bad or not?
No way that I'm aware of that doesn't involve removing the struts and putting them on shock dyno..... which would probably cost more than new struts anyway.
My real concern is that via the "bounce test", my struts seem fine... so it may be bushings?.... or some other piece of suspension is bent? I don't see how a bad alignment could produce the cupping I've been getting.
 

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Discussion Starter #18 (Edited)
I agree. Decided to swap out the struts again as I don't want to be dealing with this in the winter. The last time the rear strut went and the tire wear was worn like this, driving in the snow on the highway was downright dangerous and frightening. Felt like the car was going to spin out every time I hit a bump. Never want to experience that again.

I didn't see anything bent so it'll be interesting to hear what the new alignment shop will have to say, though I'm sure I'll through the camber off when I do the front struts. Going to do the drive shafts too while I'm in there as there's some play in the CV's...

Just found this article, talks about internal strut wear that's undetectable by the "bounce" test:

http://www.alldatadiy.com/techtips/2002/20020826a.html
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Been meaning to update this thread. Swapped out the struts almost a year ago for the upgraded Monroe SensaTrac and recently had new tires installed (haven't driven the car much). The tech at the shop said he believed the odd tire wear might be due to weak or old springs in the rear. I do always have some weight in the trunk and thought that might be a valid possibility. So I wanted to see if anyone had thoughts on if that could be the actual culprit. If it would be worth replacing the rear springs, should I use factory springs or is there a stronger aftermarket available?

The car is driving very nicely again, quite smooth at highway speeds, and I'd like to try and keep this rear tire wear from happening again. I went with the Hankook Optimo 727's this time to see if switching from the Yoko's would have any effect. So far they seem like very good tires.
 

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My '00 Prizm had the same issue at 75K; the tires 'hop' and got scuffed due to weak struts. Very noisy & vibrations too. The bounce test was OK, but the struts were basically undamped when removed. The springs are OK if you don't bottom out on speed bumps or sag too badly with passengers. I put in Monroe Quick-Struts, (springs+struts) which had a firmer ride. The Monroes had more coils, which slap & might make a tapping noise, but Honda PN52442-SM1-A00 snap-on coil 'silencer tubes' ($2/ea, 2/side) took care of that. Many posts on that Q/S mystery noise! They come assembled incl. top mounts; took less than 1hr per corner. Also check the rear lateral arms and strut rods for play. Wiggle the jacked-up wheel at 3-9 o'clock & look/feel for play in their bushings.
 
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