Key Takeaways

  • Tire sidewall damage will be very visible.
  • Tire sidewall damage can come in the form of cracking, bubbling, and punctures.
  • Tire sidewall damage will cause you to have to replace the tire.
  • Driving on a tire with sidewall damage is extremely dangerous.
  • Never drive on a flat tire, it risks sidewall damage.

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Sometimes, tire damage can happen in many different forms. But how do you know if the sidewall of your tire is damaged?

Tire sidewall damage will be very visible. Tire sidewall will look like a chunk missing out of the sidewall. Or it will look like a puncture in the sidewall. Sidewall damage can also come in the form of bead deterioration.

I’m a mechanic with five years experience of diagnosing and repairing vehicles. I see sidewall tire damage on a consistent basis. I received my automotive degree and I am ASE certified. I receive regular training on the most recently released technology. And I repair and diagnose vehicles with the most up-to-date tools and software.

Table of Contents

Tire Sidewalls

Tire sidewalls are the vertical section of a tire. They are the part of the tire that doesn’t make contact with the road. Tire sidewalls are made of thick rubber that provides important structural support to the tire and helps it maintain its shape.

In addition to providing the tire support, the tire sidewall is full of information about the tire. For example, the size of the tire is printed on the sidewall of the tire. As well, tire sidewall markings can include DOT information and tire specifications.

Tire sidewalls may also include raised lettering specifying the brand of the tire. Tire sidewalls can add a visual element to the tire through the use of graphics and images printed directly onto the sidewall. The tire sidewall is connected to the tire tread.

The tire tread is the portion of the tire that comes into contact with the ground. The tire sidewall is the portion that doesn’t come in contact with the ground. Sometimes, the tire’s recommended air pressure is printed into the side wall. If you get a flat tire, the tire sidewall will collapse.

A lot of work goes into manufacturing a car tire and the tire sidewall is a crucial part to the tire’s structural integrity. Tire sidewalls are exposed to the environment in ways that the tire tread is not, so sometimes damage to the sidewall can occur.

Tire Sidewall Damage

There are different types of damage that can occur to a tire sidewall. Sidewall damage comes in many different forms. Let’s look at some of the types of tire sidewall damage.

The first type of damage that tire sidewalls can experience are bulges and blisters. Bulges and blisters in tire sidewalls are a clear indication of tire sidewall damage. A bulge in a tire looks like a bubble popping out of the side wall. Bubbles are extremely dangerous to drive on and can cause a blowout at any moment.

If you see a bubble or blister in your tires sidewall, you must replace the tire. Bubbles and blisters cannot be repaired at the local tire shop. This is because there is no repair method for a tire bubble. Tire bubbles are irreparable.

Another type of sidewall damage that can happen is cracking. Cracking can be caused by a variety of factors including exposure to sunlight, extreme temperatures, and using improper storage methods.

Cracking in tires looks like little cracks in the sidewall that start at the bead. Cracks can spread all throughout the tire sidewall and can cause lots of damage to the tire’s sidewall. Cracking isn’t an issue that can be repaired.

Once cracking occurs, it’s hard to stop. You most likely need to replace the tire with sidewall cracking as soon as possible. Another type of side wall damage that I see often is cuts and punctures. Cuts and punctures to the sidewall are pretty obvious.

They look as if a hole is placed in the sidewall. When a cut or puncture happens in the tire’s sidewall, the tire will become flat. Flat tires caused by tire sidewall punctures are not allowed to be repaired due to state laws.

That’s because once a puncture takes place in a sidewall, the tire has become weakened to a point beyond repair.  A tire technician is unable to repair a tire that’s had a puncture in the tire’s sidewall.

Uneven wear due to a vehicle being misaligned can cause a vehicle to experience tire sidewall damage. Uneven tire wear can be caused by bad wheel alignment.  The damage caused by uneven tire wear starts at the tread level but then the damage starts working its way over to the sidewall causing irreparable damage.

What To Do If You Have Sidewall Damage

If you have sidewall damage your tire is pretty much garbage. The sidewalls are such a crucial part to the tire’s construction that any damage done to them causes the tire to become useless.

Tire damage to the sidewall causes the tire to become discardable. That’s to say, when you see your tire has sidewall damage, it’s time to get a new tire. Hopefully, you purchased tire warranties on your tires and they will be covered by manufacturer defects.

For example, if you get a tire sidewall bubble, sometimes the tire shop will replace the tire free of charge if you purchased a road hazard warranty since this is a tire defect issue.

But if there is a puncture in the side wall due to an accident, most shops won’t cover this. But either way, whether you pay for the replacement tire or not, a tire with sidewall damage needs to be replaced as soon as possible.

It’s very risky to drive on a tire with sidewall damage, since the tire becomes greatly weakened when it experiences sidewall damage. A very serious accident can occur due to a tire blow out.

And blow outs can occur just by going over speed bumps, if there is tire sidewall damage. Tire’s should be regularly visually inspected for tire sidewall damage each oil change. I know when I do oil changes on cars, I inspect each wheel for sidewall damage since it’s such a risky thing.

If you see your car has sidewall damage, take it to the repair shop immediately and have the tire replaced.

Driving On Flat Tires

Driving on flat tires can wreck the sidewall of tires immensely. When a tire goes flat, all of the weight of the tire is being put on the tire’s sidewall. And when you drive on the sidewall, it destroys the material the sidewall is created out of.

Dismounting a flat tire that was driven on reveals pounds of materials that have been shaved off inside of the tire.

If you get a flat tire, do not attempt to drive on it, even for short distances of time. It will cause you to have to replace the tire. Dismount the tire, and transport the tire to a tire shop instead.

Don’t drive on a flat tire, since it will destroy the sidewalls and cause you to have to purchase a new tire.

How Do I Know If My Tire Sidewall Is Damaged?

About The Author

Christopher Sparks

Christopher Sparks

Christopher Sparks has been servicing vehicles since 2012. After completing the automotive studies program at Camden County College, he was awarded an Associates's Degree in Applied Science. His first job was a lube-tech at Jiffy Lube, and is currently an independent B-Technician servicing vehicles for the United States Postal Service. Christopher is ASE certified and loves rebuilding engines.

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