Different types of tire damage
There’s a lot more to consider about tires than whether or not they’re inflated. Age, improper care, and other factors can lead to more than one kind of damage. If you see any of the below, this should serve as a guide to helping correct the problem so that your next set of tires will last longer. The first and most obvious kind of damage to a tire is a sudden blowout at road speed. It’s certainly the scariest and sometimes the most difficult to deal with, as it usually happens without warning. In this situation, you’re going to want to stay calm, keep the car pointed straight (this may require more effort than usual if one of your front tires has gone flat), and pull over to the breakdown lane absolutely as soon as you can. Usually this kind of damage is caused by an unseen sharp object in the road, and often can’t be avoided. If you see an object sticking out of the flat tire, there’s the problem. If the puncture is in the tread, and not the sidewall, it isn’t too bad, and you didn’t drive long on the flat, there’s a good chance you can get the tire plugged or patched. Otherwise, you’re looking at replacing both tires on that axle, or all four on an all wheel drive vehicle. What if you don’t see a sharp object, but parts of the tread are torn off the tire? In that case, you’re likely dealing with the tread de-laminating from the belts, which can happen with older tires, even if they still look OK. If your tires are older than five years, this is more of a possibility. What if you don’t have a flat, but notice uneven tread wear? Uneven tread wear to the inside or outside of the tire is often the result of poor alignment and/or worn tie rods. Fresh tires and an alignment (sometimes with component replacement) will usually fix this. Uneven wear towards the center of the tire is usually indicative of overinflated tires. Always follow your car manufacturer’s recommendations for inflation, and not the maximum allowed pressure as printed on the tire sidewall. Another age-related item to watch out for is visible cracking in the tire’s casing, usually visible on the sidewall. This can be an early warning for age-related damage such as the aforementioned de-lamination. Also, look for buckles and bubbles in the tire’s sidewall. These are usually a sign of a broken belt. You may even be able to feel this kind of damage while driving – the tire will feel “mushier”. The only cure for this, as in most cases of damage, is tire replacement. Above all, keep an eye on your tires and follow the recommended inflation pressures, and you’ll avoid a lot of problems in the long run.