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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
2k mi ago I had the front passenger wheel off when I did a cyl head swap and had to set the timing. There was no (or very little) wear on that tire at that time. Today I did an oil change, and found that the outside inch or so of the tire is worn right down to the end of the wear bars. It isn't evenly worn all around, it is worse on one side. It looks like there is cupping on the outer edge.

Over the past week or so, I've noticed while making left turns and accelerating I get a kind of light rumbling noise that sounds like it's coming from that wheel. Kind of a bump..bump..rattle like going over a rumble strip slowly (but much quieter). I tried to check the tie rod and ball joints on each side in the front by wiggling side-side and up-down. Up-down has no movement on either side. Side-side has no movement on the driver side, and a very slight (barely noticeable) movement on the passenger side (ie. the side with the excess tire wear). I can't notice any movement wiggling the tie rod with the tire off.

I'm curious if this ever so slight movement on the passenger side could mean a bad tie rod end, or the other possibility, did I forget to tighten the lugnuts fully on that side 2k mi ago? I put everything back together kind of hastily because I had been working on the car all weekend and needed it that day for work, so I may have just tightened them half way, dropped the car off the jack intending to finish it, but forgot.

So.. could a tie rod cause THAT much wear in the course of 2k miles? Like I said, the other side of the tire looks brand new, but that edge is worn to the end of the wear bars in one spot. For the time being I've swapped it with a back tire as I keep an eye on it.
 

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i would say do the ball joints its only 4 bolts and easy to do. to check the tie rods its best to have 2 ppl one to shake back and fourth and the other to have their hand on it to feel for play then check the inner tie rod. my ball joints were crap and my tires wore out and i did lane changes that i didnt want to do. autozone is good n cheap
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
111k on the car

I have no idea as far as the tie rod ends/ball joints. I'd imagine they are original.

Alignment.. I don't know how to measure that, but from what I can tell driving it, it doesn't pull in any direction, steering wheel is not out of clock, and there is no vibration or wobble. I had it up to around 80 MPH the other day and it was fine. What baffles me is my old escort (96) with 200k+ mi on it has a pulsation in the steering wheel and would pull to the right if I let go of the steering wheel. It was also slightly out of clock. Hence, it seemed like it needed an alignment/who knows what else, but I drove it for over 20k mi like that and it never wore out the front tires. Oh yea, and the front drivers tire even had a bubble in it (broken belt)? Still has the same tires on it today!
 

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If the car is at 111K and still has the original ball joints and tie rod ends it's likely needing them whether that's the reason for the tire wear or not. I just changed both on my '02 the other day and it only has 96K miles. The tie rod and ball joint both on the right side was worn to the point it had a very slight amount of movement in it. The thing that tipped me off wasn't tire wear, but when I'd hit a slight bump in the road you could hear a slight knocking noise and it was coming from the slack in the joints. Wear on the outer or inner part of the tread of the tire usually is an indication the toe is out. With the wear being on the outer edge, it would mean you have too much toe in. If you had left the lug nuts loose they would have probably worked loose and came off in 2K miles of driving. I'd start by replacing the ball joints and tie rod ends and getting it realigned. I bought both new tie rod ends and both new ball joints for my '02 for under $105. at Auto Zone. I also suggest replacing them in pairs so that you don't replace the known bad one and then a few months down the road have to replace the other one and have the car realigned. The type wear you are describing not all the way around the tire and cuppiing could also be a broken belt in the tire, that will cause some strange wear patterns.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Well I'm going to see how it does this week. If it still makes the rumbling noise on turns or I see wear beginning on the tire (I swapped the front for a back one) I'll do the tie rod end/ball joint.

As for alignment, anyone have a link to a good how-to for alignment on our cars? I don't see anything in the how-to section and most of the stuff on the web is for cars in general. I'd rather do it myself and save some money. Plus, that way I could do just one side for now and do the other later on if/when I have to. I've done some pretty good alignments on motorcycles using a set of laser levels and a ruler, but I've never done one on a car.
 

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The way I did the one on my '02, which nothing should have been out except the toe, was to run a string line from the rear of the rear tire to front of the front tire at the center height of the tire and just make adjustments to the tie rods until everything was in line then gave it a slight amount of toe in. Since that time the car has been run a few hundred miles and the handling is good and so far no negative impact on tire wear. I think I gave it about 1/8" toe in on each side (one full turn of the tie rod).
 
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