Treadwear is explained by specific mechanical properties and actions of tires. Rubber shear stresses in the contact zone between the tire and the road become large at large slip angles. When normal stresses are insufficient to prevent sliding at the rear of the footprint, wear occurs at a rate that depends on test severity. Two experimental approaches are described to relate treadwear to tire characteristics. The first uses transducers imbedded in a simulated road surface to obtain direct measurements of contact stresses on the loaded, freely‐rolling, steered tires. The second approach is developed with the aid of a simple carcass, tread‐band, tread‐rubber tire model. Various tire structural configurations; characterized by carcass spring rate, edgewise flexural band stiffness, and tread rubber shear stiffness; are simulated and lateral shear stress response in the contact zone is determined. Tires featuring high band stiffness and low carcass stiffness generate lower lateral shear stress levels. Furthermore, coupling of tread‐rubber stiffness and band flexural rigidity are important in determining level of shear stresses. Laboratory measurements with the described apparatus produced values of tread‐band bending and carcass lateral stiffness for several tire constructions. Good correlation is shown between treadwear and a broad range of tire stiffness and test course severities.