Car wheels and transfer of engine power to the road has far advanced from the early days of simple drive shafts connected to axles. Today's cars can even utilize split axles, both sides performing with better response and independent power transfer to the road. However, that also means more connections, parts and areas that can fail over time and increased maintenance.
If the wheel rods and other parts that control the balance of the tire come loose, the play in overall connection can easily cause abnormal tire wear. In essence, the tire starts to wiggle as it rotates traveling down the road. This wiggle can then cause exponential friction and wear on the tire, often on the middle of the tire surface versus the edges. Some of this premature destruction can be offset by rotating the tires, which is the normal approach for tire wear and tear, but eventually one runs out of tire-switching options. In this scenario, tires that should last as long as 40,000 miles become dangerous to use in less than 15,000. It's an expensive lesson to learn about wheel connections.
Tires aren't a cheap vehicle part to replace. A basic set of tires for a car bought at a discount tire store can still cost well over $500 with sales tax. Even just replacing two tires at a time will still run just under $250. Selecting to install used tires isn't necessarily a good idea either. While they can be cheaper, one really doesn't know what is being bought. Used tires can be notorious for failing far faster than their remaining tread life predicts.
"Car drivers don't always know when something is wrong with your wheels or tires." States Mike Carson, with Carson Cars Auto Repair. "Regular vehicle inspection and maintenance including the tires, completed by qualified technicians is important to catch these problems in advance of them occurring." Carson Cars is a Auto Service shop in Snohomish County, WA.
Loose wheel tie rods and cambers are not the sort of thing the average car driver is going to know to look for. In fact, the problem is almost hard to notice, being barely perceptible as extra play in the steering wheel versus the feeling of the wheels to the car.