Tramlining – Definition, Causes, Prevention and How to Fix It

One of the problems you might encounter while using your vehicles on the road is tramlining. It involves your car moving in a direction different from where you propelled it.

Tramlining makes moving an automotive in a straight line almost impossible due to the constant change of direction which often goes along with frequent vibrations, especially on rough road paths.

In this article, you’re going to learn the meaning, causes, and how to prevent and fix tramlining from occurring while using your automotive. Tramlining can also be called tire wandering or nibbling.

What is Tramlining

Tramlining occurs when a vehicle follows contours and potholes on the road while in motion. Tramlining makes the movement of the car not conform to the drivers’ input rather the vehicle follows the track of contours.


This is often experienced while driving on a road full of potholes, contours and smooth surfaces. Also, bad or worn-out tires can greatly contribute to tire wandering, especially when trying to make sharp turns on a bad road.

However, the effect might not be noticed on a slow vehicle. Nibbling at a very high speed can lead to damage or serious accident.

What Causes Tramlining in a Car?

It’s important to know every possible cause of a problem – tramlining in this case – in order to apply better solutions when you’re faced with it.

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Here are some causes of tire wandering in a vehicle;

  1. Worn out tires
  2. Poor Wheel alignment
  3. Over-inflated tire
  4. Tire tread wear
  5. Wider Car tires
  6. Tread Design
  7. Quality of Tires
  8. Old suspension system

Now, let’s take a brief into the possible causes of tramlining on a vehicle.

1 . Worn-out tires: Running a car on worn-out tires will increase the possibility of experiencing tramlining while driving.

2. Poor Wheel Alignment: a poor Wheel alignment will leave your tires loose making your vehicle defy the steering input while following contours and potholes. Also, your tires might also lose if not attended to on time.

3. Over-inflated tires: Over-inflating your vehicle tire above the manufacturer’s recommendation will likely make you feel every bump on the road thereby increasing the change of tramlining. Also, your tires might burst while driving making the road unsafe for other users.

4. Tire thread wear: uneven tread wear on a tire will increase the chances of the vehicle experiencing tramlining.

5. Wider Car Tires: cars with wider tires might further experience tramlining due to increased contact with the road’s surface area.

6. Tread Design: this is similar to the above cause, tires with wider threads tend to experience more contact with the road surface area thereby increasing tire wandering.

7. Quality of Tires: a low-quality tire will not be able to conform to road unevenness and absorb contact with potholes thereby increasing the chance of experiencing tramlining. Low profiled tires are recommended on bumpy roads.

8. Old vehicle suspension system: An old or faulty suspension system will automatically forward all the weight of the vehicle on the tires thereby causing tramlining.

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These are some of the notable causes of tramlining in your car.

So, after visually inspecting any part of the area of your tires, wheel alignment, and suspension system you can now proceed to implement any of the below repairs.

How to Prevent and Repair Tramlining

Adhere to one or all of the below to prevent and fix tramlining on your vehicle

  • Avoid over-inflating or under-inflating your car tires and maintain a constant tire pressure
  • Initiate regular wheel alignment to repair any worn-out ball joint or bearing (negative or positive camber)
  • Run habitual maintenance on your vehicle’s suspension system
  • Avoid modifying the wheelbase of your car
  • Don’t use tires with reinforced sidewalls on your cars

What are the symptoms of Tramlining

Here are a few signs you might notice if your vehicle ever runs into the tramlining problem.

  1. The vehicle doesn’t obey driver’s input
  2. Irregular movement (Bumpy ride)
  3. Car shakes/vibrates on the road
  4. Increased wear and tear of tires
  5. Bent steering wheels if it’s a case of a bad wheel alignment.
  6. That’s it.

Tramlining FAQs

Can Worn tires cause Tramlining?

Although not the leading cause of tramlining, a worn-out tire can further increase the effect of tramlining. Also, without identifying and fixing the leading cause of nibbling, new tires will continually wear out.

Why do I feel every bump on the road?

An overinflated or underinflated tire can cause you to feel every bump or contour on the road due to excess or no tire pressure.

What is Positive and Negative Camber?

This applies to the wheel alignment, a positive camber occurs when the top of the wheels drifts away from the axle (bottom) Meanwhile negative camber occurs when the axle is farther out than the wheel.

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Tramlining is a minor issue that should be resolved as soon as possible to avoid accidents on the road.

The major causes of tramlining include bad tires, faulty wheel alignment, and a bad suspension system in your car.

Simply follow the above instruction to prevent and repair tramlining on your vehicle.