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Sidewall Tire Damage – Is It Safe To Drive On A Tire With Sidewall Damage?

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Sidewall tire damage is not a fun circumstance to deal with. At first glance, you may think that the damage is minimal but after further evaluation, you may find that you have more damage than you first thought. So, what is sidewall damage? We have the answer as well as the information you need to stay safe! 

Auto Repairs Are EXPENSIVE

Sidewall Tire Damage – What Exactly is it? 

Sidewall tire damage is defined as tire damage that encompasses issues and deficiencies with the side or wall of your vehicle’s tires.  You may have huge chunks of rubber that are missing from your tire. You may also have deep and huge abrasions that are due to you hitting curbs. You may also have a bulge or two, on the sidewall of your tire. Sidewall tire damage is very serious. You can count on it leading to complete tire failure. So, this means, that replacement tires are in your immediate future.  Any missing chunk of tire that is bigger than a dime, or an abrasion on your tire that has exposed the long textile cords is a problem.  Bigger cracks in your tire may indicate that you hit a curb. Are any of these issues present in your tire? Then, it’s time to visit a trusted tire dealer. 

Is It Safe To Drive On A Tire With Sidewall Damage?

In short, NO! It’s time for you to place your tire(s) now. Perhaps you need to throw those hazards on and drive to the nearest tire retailer, or you need to call roadside assistance. Your tire sidewall is the most vulnerable part of the tire. And even if you have tiny or small imperfections, abrasions and holes in the side, you may be in danger. Your tire may be even holding air. But just because you can drive your car with sidewall tire damage, doesn’t mean you should. The tire could “pop” at any second and this can create a dangerous situation- not only for you, but for other drivers too! 


How Much Tire Sidewall Damage Is Too Much?

We want to begin this section with stating that any amount of damage to your sidewall should be cause for concern. We understand that we all have various financial circumstances, but you certainly don’t want to compromise your safety. Any small sidewall tire damage, can grow into a HUGE issue. Additionally, you as a car owner know- just as we do- that any “small issue” can grow into a larger issue and lead to some significant problems. So, what may be considered too much damage? Well if you can see the cords dangling outside of your tire, then it’s safe to say that you have some significant sidewall tire damage.  Additionally, you may not be able to see the cords on your tires, but you can see bubbles in and on your tires. This is cause for concern as well. Lots of folks will attempt to drive on tires and this sets the stage for a fiery crash on a highway without notice. You could have a blow out, then fly into a building, another car or off of the highway. As we paint a real and sever picture, we hope that we are conveying the danger of driving on “bubbled” or exposed sidewalls on your tires. 


What Causes Sidewall Tire Damage?

Tire sidewall damage and blowout may happen due to the following: 

  1. Under-Inflation
  2. Age 
  3. Damage 
  4. Overload 
  5. Manufacturing defects 
  6. Tire Wear 

Under- Inflation 

Under-inflation can become an issue due to tire damage or a driver’s negligence. Tires lose air over time at a rate of about two (2) psi per month. There’s about (1) psi that disappears with every 10°F drop in temperature. For a tire that has damage, air loss may be larger, and cause extreme lack of pressure a lot sooner than a driver is able to handle. Under- inflated tires and their sidewall counterparts can flex while there is not enough pressure to hold the load of the passengers, the vehicle and more. Build-up will occur fast and this puts all and the car in immediate danger. 



Many manufactures of tires, state that a tire is safe for about 8-10 years form the date it was manufactured. After such, the rubber on the tire will begin to deteriorate from the moment of heat and oxygen exposure. Once tire degradation begins to take shape, the rubber will lose its flexibility and become hard and brittle. The tire’s connection to the inner plies will begin to weaken, while vulnerability will increase. The tire can no longer withstand heat. Soon, the chances for a tire sidewall blowout increase.


Tire damage can develop because of various road hazards or improper maintenance/ installation. Generally, when a tire is damaged, it will lose air fast and blowouts will be inevitable. The belt and the tread will begin to separate. The diver will then drive over a sharp edge on the road, or even a pothole. 

There will then be a puncture in the tire and the tire will go flat fast, or may even explode. The tire may also deflate, causing sidewall tire damage. 



If your vehicle is overladed with cargo or supplies, this can put strain on your tires, causing them to flatten, or even explode. Your vehicle also may also become less stable, causing it to wobble or wiggle from side to side on the road. This is very dangerous. And if you choose to drive at a high speed with a damaged tire, your sidewall tire damage chances skyrocket. This issue is more common among multi-purpose vehicles, vans and pickups, as they tend to transport heavy cargo and loads.

Manufacturing Defects 

The main defect that may cause a tire sidewall blowout is an insufficient speed rating. A tire that has not undergone the proper testing before its release, will compromise the safety of the tire and driver and even result in a lower speed rating. The tire can also overheat, after being installed. 


Tire Wear 

Did you know that when you choose to drive on bald tires, that those tires can heat up a lot faster? The tires can also show cords and fall apart without warning or notice. While driving on bald tires and with the cords showing, you mistakenly drive on a curb. UGH! This can cause quick tire air loss and result in a tire blowout. In many states, the legal tread depth is about 2/32”. And for a tire depth that exceeds or reaches 4/32”- with a hit of a nail or a small pothole- then the chances of a complete tire sidewall blowout are just about inevitable. 


Statistics State… 

In a report by the National Transportation Safety Board about 33,000 accidents happen on a yearly basis, due to tire issues. Additionally, as many as 2,000 of those accidents are due to sidewall tire- related issues. 

Additionally, the National Safety Council states: “One in four passenger vehicles has at least one underinflated tire, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).” 

If you experience sidewall tire damage, we recommend that you DON’T drive with your car or even REPAIR the tire. We recommend that you REPLACE the tire.  


The materials and the components that are used to construct the sidewall of your tire are not the same as the materials that are used to craft the tread of the tire. The job of the sidewall is to offer a smooth drive while absorbing the shock. A good rule of thumb to remember is this: when the sidewall is damaged- no matter how small- it’s time to replace the tire. The sidewall damage can grow and compromise your safety and the safety of the drivers around you. 

What to Do If a Tire Sidewall Blowout Happens 

OK- you have just experienced a tire sidewall blowout. 

  1. Throw on your hazard lights at once. This will allow drivers to see that you are in an emergency situation and they need to steer clear of you. 
  2. Maintain your speed so that you can preserve the vehicle’s momentum. Do this by depressing on the gas pedal or just by keeping the same and steady pressure on it. 
  3. You also want to compensate for the instability of your blown tire, by counter steering. Find the nearest shoulder or area to park on, so that you are out of the way of other drivers. If you are on the highway, drive over to the shoulder or in the center (grassy or paved) area.  Drivers will see you with your hazards and will slow down and keep away from you, in an effort not to hit you. You may even find that another driver will follow you, to see if you are OK. Chances are police are out and can follow you to a safe area, and get you the help you need. 

These days, we all have some sort of road assistance that either comes with our vehicles, or that we pay for. And if you don’t have some sort of vehicle/roadside assistance, you may want to invest in such. Most plans are not that much. 

How Can I Avoid Sidewall Tire Damage/ Blowout in the First Place? 

  1. Check your tire pressure on a monthly basis. If you cannot remember to do this, the oil change technician will check your tire pressure as you get your oil changed.
  2. Match speed ratings and tire load to your vehicle’s recommendations. If your car is not equipped to handle and transport large cargo, DON’T! 
  3. Avoid road hazards. If traffic reports call for lots of construction, try to find an alternate route. 
  4. Get a tire technician to inspect your tires. Specialized and trained tire professionals can look for issues that you may miss. 
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