Drive on Bubbled Tyres and You Risk Your Life
A road traffic cop in the UK stopped a car on a school run a few weeks ago. The reason was tyre bubbles. These huge bulges are a sign of major tyre failure. They are not normal, and are dangerous. Very dangerous. What causes tyre bubbles, and what should you do if your tyres are bubbled?
The Good News about Tyre Bubbles
First, the good news. If you have tyre bubbles, you’ll see them. You’ll also feel them when you drive.
Tyre bubbles are big bulges. They look a little like Marty Feldman’s eyes – popping out all over the place. If your drive has become shuddery instead of smooth, you may also have tyre bubbles.
The Bad News about Tyre Bubbles
Now for the bad news. You can’t fix tyre bubbles. They are a sign that the tyre is irreparably damaged. But it gets worse. A tyre bubble means that:
- A slight impact could lead to a tyre blowout. You’ll need to avoid every single pothole, no matter how small.
- A cut or hole can develop in the tyre at any moment.
- Air is leaking – your tyre is going flat.
- Cornering risks a blowout, too.
These risks are present because of how the tyre has been damaged.
How Do Tyre Bubbles Develop?
A tyre bubble forms because of internal damage to the tyre. When the internal components are weakened, the air pressure inside causes the sidewalls to bubble. Air escapes through the inner lining and becomes trapped between the inner lining and outer casing. Often, these bubbles form when the tyre is shocked – such as if you hit a pothole or kerb at speed.
They are also more likely on older tyres. This is because a tyre’s rubber compound breaks down over time (which is why most tyre manufacturers recommend changing for new tyres when your existing tyres are five of six years old, irrespective of mileage travelled on them).
We often find that tyre bubbles occur to tyres most commonly on vehicles that are frequently driven over rough roads, and also to tyres that are poorly maintained and inflated to the incorrect tyre pressure.
How Do You Avoid Tyre Bubbles?
To avoid tyre bubbles, you should always drive safely, within speed limits, and try to avoid driving at speed over potholes. You should also maintain your tyres well, and ensure you replace with new when they must be changed – whether it’s because of inadequate tread depth, degradation or age.
Checking Your Tyres for Tyre Bubbles
Tyre bubbles are not always as visible as the ones on the tyres of the car stopped in the UK. Those bubbles were up to three inches across and spread completely around the outer sidewall of the tyre. There were around a dozen of them. The tyre looked like it had a bunch of tennis balls buried inside it. This simple two-step routine will help you inspect your tyres for tyre bubbles:
- In the morning light, or with a bright torch, inspect your tyres for any changes.
- Use your hands to run around the inner and outer sidewalls, checking for small bubbles – they don’t become tennis ball-sized immediately. Your fingers are sensitive – you’ll feel bulges and bubbles quite easily.
While checking your tyres, take note of uneven tread, cuts and grazes, too. Uneven tread could be a sign that your wheel alignment needs adjusting or your wheels need balancing. Cuts and grazes and damage caused by sharp objects should all be inspected by a professional immediately.
What Should You Do If You Find a Tyre Bubble?
A tyre bubble is an accident waiting to happen. Don’t take the risk. As soon as you notice a tyre bubble, change the tyre for the spare tyre. Then, take the bubbled tyre to your nearest tyre shop as soon as you can. They will confirm if the tyre is bubbled and if it needs replacing.
Here in Brisbane, if you suspect you have tyre bubbles get in touch with Darra Tyres. Please don’t risk driving on substandard tyres. We’d prefer to see you in our tyre shop than in a hospital.
Keeping your family and fleet safe on the road,