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Suspension/uneven tire wear advice


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2008 Sierra 1500 4x4 with towing package (3.73 rear end and upgraded suspension parts I believe). So I took my Sierra in to get new tpms installed. My tire guy pointed out uneven wear on my Cooper AT3's  (about 4500 miles on them) and suggested I get my alignment checked out. The wear is on the outer row of treads and maybe slightly into the next row inside. The wear is best described as heel to toe or lippage on the back of the tread. Both front tires show similar wear. The ride feels smooth and runs true on flat roads. I took it to get the alignment checked anyway and the guys told me I needed a new lower ball joint on one side and new strut assemblies. Lowers are ~2.5 years old (maybe junk economy parts, not sure), and the uppers are 5 month old Moog problem solvers. I took it home and jacked it up, set up a camera on the suspension, rocked the tire, and saw zero movement on the ball joint. Also stopped and had my mechanic check it, and he said the ball joint is fine. So I think that is not the culprit. My coil springs seem fine (no bouncing after hitting bumps), but the assemblies have 160,000 miles on them. So I'm wondering if tired struts could cause the wear pattern I'm getting (or anything else I should check for this type of wear). I noticed there is slight play in one of my inner tie rod ends (moving 90 degrees from the tie rod on the horizontal plane, 1/8" one way, ~1/4" back and forth). I thought that might have something to do with the tire wear, but it's only on one side. The only other thing that seems off to me is I get some brake pulsations when braking hard. So basically I'm wondering if the struts could cause this wear pattern or if I should be looking at something else. I'm planning on doing the brakes soon and was looking at KYB SR4079 for a strut assembly replacement. Thanks for any input.

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you have a lot of information for the problem you are having, but in short absolutely.  Shocks can cause premature tire wear no doubt. 160 is a lot on a 4x4.   Cupping is a common problem with some tires, but at 4500 that is crazy.  Because you indicated all tires having this wear chances are its your suspension.  

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Thanks Rick. Yeah you're probably right but I like to be thorough. Thought maybe the brakes or the inner tie rod might be a cause too. I think I'll put new strut assemblies and inner tie rod ends on and brakes need done anyway, and try a different alignment shop. I'm just hoping to understand what part would cause this saw tooth pattern to make sure it's actually getting fixed. Maybe it's just common with the newer style AT3's.

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