Have A Bulge In Your Tire?
That bubble in your tire sidewall is actually air that has escaped the inner liner to the outermost structure of the tire. Tires contain many different components: the inner liner, body plies, belts, sidewall, bead, and tread. The inner liner maintains the air inside the tire between it and the rim.
When impact damage to the tire occurs, this inner liner (as well as other parts of the tire casing) can be punctured, forming gaps between layers in the sidewall, and causing air to escape to that area.
Causes of Tire Bulge
Tire bulge is commonly due to impact damage. This is when internal damage is inflicted on the tire when it comes into contact with certain obstacles, like:
- Driving over potholes on the road
- Frequently running up onto curbs when parking
- Driving on rough roads
- Driving over road debris
Some drivers notice a bulge on their tire sidewall after a car accident, indicating that some form of internal damage was done at that time. Sometimes, but not often, sidewall bulge occurs due to a tire manufacturing defect. In this case, a bulge in your tire may be covered by warranty.
Is tire sidewall bulge safe to drive on?
The short answer is no. Like real bubbles, a “bubble” that forms on your tire’s sidewall could burst at any time. If you drive on a tire with sidewall bulge, you risk possible tire failure, not to mention wheel and suspension damage.
If your tire has a sidewall bulge, DO NOT drive on it. The tire is weakened and will not be able to take on more harsh road conditions like bumps, potholes, rocks, or debris. At this point, if you need to use the vehicle, you should safely remove the tire and install your spare.
Bulge in Tire Tread
Similarly, you may experience a bulge on the tire’s tread itself. This is an indicator that the tire has a broken belt (the rubber-coated steel layers that lie between the tread itself and the body plies). This is also called tire separation. A bulge or bubble on the tread may feel like a bumping sensation while driving. Like a sidewall bulge, this is also very dangerous and tire failure may be imminent.
Can a tire bulge be fixed?
Tire bulge, both on the sidewall and tread, cannot be repaired. The tire must be replaced. Why? Repair cannot be done because the damage is internal. This internal structural damage to the tire can’t just be fixed with a patch or plug––when the cords inside the body of the tire are broken, it’s beyond repair.
Your best option is to visit your local tire and automotive professional. You’ll want to replace a tire with a sidewall bulge VERY quickly: it could fail without warning at any time. Remember: it is also wise to replace tires in sets (4) or pairs (2) so that your tires do not suffer from radically uneven wear.
At Postle Tire Barn, our tire replacement process is complete and all-encompassing. We’ll help you choose the right tires for your vehicle. And, we can recommend models based on your driving habits and terrain. After purchasing your tires, we’ll install them expertly, and balance them. Our job isn’t done until you’re back on the road in comfort and safety!
Preventing Tire Bulging/Bubbles
While it’s nearly impossible to avoid potholes when they’re coming at you, or spot an accident before it happens, there are a few tips you can follow to care for your tires and reduce the risk of developing tire bulge.
- Maintain your tires. Regular rotations, tread depth checks, and thorough inspections can save you from tire tread bulging which results from very worn tires, incorrect PSI levels, or other tire defects.
- Keep a spare tire.
- Carry a tire gauge.
- Heed TPMS warnings.
- Drive and park carefully.
- Steer clear of potholes!
Postle Tire Barn is a family owned and operated tire and automotive shop serving the automotive needs of Tuscaloosa and West Alabama. Feel free to call us or stop by if you have questions about your vehicle. We’re located on Jug Factory Road in Tuscaloosa behind McDonalds.