It’s difficult to overstate how much we rely on our tyres to keep us safe, but it’s important to remember that it’s not a one way street. Tyres also rely on us. As vigilant car owners, we need to be on the lookout for any issues that may compromise a tyre’s integrity. The tricky thing is, tyre damage can occur for a variety of reasons, some of which aren’t immediately obvious.

If we’re not careful, we could end up driving on tyres that aren’t fit for purpose. To reduce the chance of this happening, we’ve put together this complete guide to common types of tyre damage, what causes them and what (if anything) you can do to prevent them.

Tyre Damage to be wary of

Irregular tread wear

Tyre damage can happen all of a sudden (like a puncture), or it can be gradual. Irregular tread wear doesn’t show up overnight; it occurs gradually, and often isn’t noticed until the tyre is already severely compromised. Fortunately, the type of tread wear usually indicates what has caused it and how to prevent it in the future. Let’s take a look.

  • Centre tread wear. When the tread that runs along the centre of the tyre looks like it’s wearing faster than the tread on the shoulders, it’s usually a sign of over-inflation. Over-inflated tyres tend to bulge in the centre, pressing that part of the tread more firmly into the road and wearing it faster. The solution? Check the door jamb, owner’s manual or petrol cap for the manufacturer’s recommended tyre PSI, and make sure your tyres stay at that level.

  • Shoulder tread wear. You guessed it. Excessive should tread wear indicates under-inflation. Once again, familiarise yourself with the right PSI for your tyres and stick to it. Shoulder tread wear can also be the result of lots of driving on winding roads. If this is the case for you, try rotating your tyres more often.

  • One-sided shoulder tread wear. If one shoulder of the tyre is more worn than any other part, it’s a clear indication that your suspension is out of whack, causing the tyre to lean and press one shoulder more firmly into the road. You need a wheel alignment to fix the issue, and one every 12 months to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

  • Flat spots. These are the tell-tale signs of an aggressive driver. If you like to hear the sound of squealing rubber when the light turns green, or enjoy testing your car’s braking distance at every red light, you’re going to get flat spots. While these patches of horizontal wear may be localised to small areas of the tyre, it nevertheless needs to be replaced. If that worn patch of tyre is in contact with the road when you suddenly need to brake, you’ll be in trouble. Solution? You know it already – slow down.

For more information on this type of tyre damage, check out our blog on irregular tyre wear causes and solutions.

Impact bulge or break

Have you ever seen an egg-shaped bulge protruding from a tyre? This is caused by a sudden impact with a solid object at speed. Striking the curb or speed bumps too fast will rupture the cords within the carcass of the tyre, and cause an egg-shaped bulge to appear. While the tyre can still hold pressure at this point, its integrity has been seriously compromised. How compromised depends on the angle and speed at which you struck the object. Regardless, at some point, if you keep driving on this tyre, the bulge will break and you’ll experience a sudden deflation. As soon as you see an egg on your tyre, get it replaced.

To prevent this, drive slowly over speed bumps and only mount curbs at low speeds and at an obtuse angle.

Cuts & punctures

Like impact bulges, cuts and punctures are the result of sudden distress, this time caused by sharp objects piercing the tyre. Cuts are typically caused by bad road conditions (potholes with jagged edges, for instance) or impact with sharp objects like glass or stones.

Punctures can also be caused by glass, but also by screws and nails. Always drive slowly around construction sites, particularly the laneways they back on to; driving slowly over screws and nails reduces the chance of flicking them up into the tyre.

Obviously, if you notice a puncture, get your car to a service centre as soon as you can for repair or replacement.

Always be on the lookout for tyre damage

Tyres are utterly exposed to the elements and road conditions. They suffer for our safety, so the least we can do is get down on our knees once in a while and look for tell-tale signs of tyre damage. Tyres can only do their job if they’re in optimum condition. As soon as you notice anything untoward, get in touch with the team of tyre specialists at Eastern Tyre Centre, and we’ll diagnose, repair or replace as required. Look after your tyres and they’ll look after you.