Tire Sidewall Damage: Is It Safe To Drive?

Tire damage is quite frustrating, as it means this car part is starting to wear. While repairs may hold your tire for some time, the most viable solution is getting a replacement, which will cause a dent in your pockets. Tire sidewall damage refers to any degradation on the sides.

In this piece, we take a comprehensive look at this problem, focusing on causes, signs, and solutions. Stick on to get ahead of this issue in case you face it.

Tire Sidewall Damage: What Exactly Is It?

As earlier hinted, tire sidewall damage is any physical problem affecting your tire’s sidewall. This tire part extends from the shoulders to the point where it touches the rim. It is a large area, which is also soft, making it prone to wear.

Some of the telltale signs of this tire damage type are cracking, swelling, a puncture, or general loss of rigidity. Other times, the signs reflect on the driving experience, which may be rough or result in poor fuel economy.

tyre sidewall peeling

What Causes Tire Sidewall Damage?

A crucial area to look at is the tire sidewall damage causes. The following are some of the pointers behind this type of tire degradation.


Once a tire is past its service life, which ranges between 6-10 years, depending on the model, you will start to notice signs of wear. This is due to extended use, subjecting it to various forces of nature like friction and constant expansion and contraction due to heat changes.

Signs of aging include cracks on the surfaces or threads showing.

Underinflated Tires

Tire wear patterns, such as those seen on the sides, are signs of poor inflation. The wearing may extend to the sidewalls, especially if the vehicle is supporting a heavy load. Due to low pressure, the sides will have to bear much of the load, leading to their tear.


Commercial and multipurpose vehicles are the ones that mostly bear the brunt of this problem due to overloading. If the vehicle handles too much load past its supporting limits, the wheels may bulge or wiggle as you drive. This makes the walls bulge out or come in contact with the road surface. Considering that the sidewalls are soft, such conditions contribute to its damage.

Poor Driving

Poor skills on the road may also bring about this issue. For instance, tire damage from hitting a curb, where the concrete erodes the rubber on the sidewall. With time, you will notice that the walls are becoming tender. If you continue driving on such tires, you risk a blowout.

A Case Of Vandalism

The sidewalls are the main targets of vandalism, like tire slashing. Here, you have someone intentionally destroying your vehicle parts to settle a score or for mischief. A slash does a lot of damage, ensuring that you are immobile until you have the tire repaired or replaced. This is a major tire sidewall cut cause.

Additionally, manufacturing defects can be possible pointers to this problem, especially if it wears faster than expected.

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

A quick look at tire sidewall damage Reddit discussions, you get a clear answer to this question. No, you can’t and shouldn’t drive on damaged tires. Instead, get a replacement. A cheaper option is to repair the damaged part, though it is a temporary solution. For instance, if you decide to patch it, it may open up after handling some distance.

Driving on bad tires is quite dangerous, both to you and other road users. First of all, the experience may be rough, with bad fuel economy. You also risk a blowout, which is severe when driving at fast speeds.

Furthermore, you may have to deal with law enforcement officers for driving an unroadworthy vehicle. Fines may come your way as a penalty.

How to Prevent Tire Sidewall Damage

Prevention is always the best measure to dealing with various vehicular hitches. For tire sidewall damage, you can follow the measures highlighted below.

Tire Maintenance: A thing to know about sidewall damage is that it comes due to prolonged exposure to wear and tear agents. The good thing is basic tire maintenance practices, like ensuring the correct pressure value, tire rotation, and balancing. These practices will lengthen the life of these parts and prevent other damage patterns.

Avoid Overloading: Overloading will not do any good to your car and may affect other parts, such as the suspension system. Look at the loading limits on the tire codes and adhere to them.

Careful Driving: Also, be disciplined when behind the wheel and avoid driving carelessly. Do not drive over potholes or hit the curb, as they physically do away with the rubber.

Replace the Tires: Once you notice signs of sidewall damage, start making plans for a replacement. It won’t be long for the small-looking problem to be too large to handle.

tyre sidewall cut


Q: Can You Repair A Tire With Sidewall Damage?

As severally mentioned, tire sidewall damage is severe and needs a replacement. However, there are instances that tire sidewall damage repairs apply, like if the crack or cuts do not go past the tread. Otherwise, driving on a damaged tire puts you at risk of a blowout.

Q: When Should You Replace A Tire With Sidewall Damage?

If you notice a worn-out sidewall on your car tires, you need to make immediate arrangements for a replacement. The walls are less robust than the upper threaded part, making them vulnerable to wearing quickly.

Q: How Dangerous Is Sidewall Damage?

The sidewall is soft compared to other parts of the tire. If there is any damage to this area, there is a high chance of expansion. Should it go out of hand without you knowing, you are at risk of a tire blowout accident.

Q: Why Can’t You Plug A Tire Sidewall Puncture?

If there is a puncture on the sidewall, plugging it won’t do you much favor. A thing to keep in mind is that you have to pressurize the wheel. The tire pressure and vehicle weight may push out the plug, taking you back to the first step of seeking a solution.

Q: Is Sidewall Damage Covered Under Warranty?

A tire warranty is a crucial area to look at when getting a new set of wheels. It covers any manufacturing faults. The warrant will only cover sidewall damage if it results from a hitch in their manufacturing process.

Q: How Do I Fix A Leaking Tire Sidewall?

Typically, you cannot fix a leaking tire sidewall. If you are desperate to move to the next stop, you can plug it. The downside is that this is a temporary solution and may result in a rough driving experience. A tire change is recommendable in such a scenario.

Q: Does Insurance Cover Tire Blowout Damage?

In case of an accident resulting from a tire blowout, comprehensive insurance can cover you. It focuses on damage caused to your vehicle besides a collision or accident. If the cause of the blowout happens to be negligence, maybe due to underinflation, the insurer may decline to compensate you.

Q: Can You Drive On A Blown-Out Tire?

In the event of a blowout, you can drive on the flat tire for a few yards before stopping. The short drive helps achieve stability, with the flat providing some cushioning for the rims. In normal situations, never drive on a blown-out tire, as you will damage other car parts.

Q: How Much Does A Tire Blowout Cost?

A tire blowout repair cost will factor in tire replacements. The price ranges from $30-$300, depending on the manufacturer and type. Then there may be costs to repair other spoilt parts resulting from the incident. 

Then there is wheel alignment and balancing, which is at least $100. Averagely, you may have to part with around $150 to deal with a tire blowout.

Final Thought

Tire sidewall damage is a common occurrence on many vehicles. It is a sign of aged tires or poor driving. If you notice a degradation of this tire part, go for an immediate replacement. This article touches on this subject, with impressive giveaways on how to deal with tire sidewall issues.

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Hi there, I am R. Hasan Tito, a mechanic, and owner of this website. My friend and I created this website to share our knowledge, expertise, and experience with our fellow mechanics' community and car users. I am a specialist and certified automotive mechanic (Both Heavy Commercial and Private Cars). I worked as a Mechanic and Mechanic Supervisor for over fifteen years at Global Rebound Automotive companies - Toyota, TATA, BMW, Nissan, TVs, and Others. Now, I enjoy my new role of leading a team of automotive experts (in their respective fields) and publish new content on a regular basis on my website and social media.

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