12 Bad Tire Symptoms You Should Be Aware Of (Guide)

Taking care of your tires should be a priority for every car owner if you want to enjoy a comfortable and safe driving experience on the road.

Bad tires put your vehicle at risk because they support the weight and movement of your car. Therefore, you need to ensure your tires are in optimal condition. So, how exactly can you know that you’re driving on bad tires? If you’d like to find out, keep reading!

12 Bad Tire Symptoms

1. Uneven Tread Wear

To know whether your tires are damaged, you need to look at their physical appearance. If you have uneven tread wear, this could be a sign of improper inflation, damaged tires, suspension issues, or misaligned tires.

On your tire, the tread is the part that comes into contact with the road surface. Therefore, it will degrade much faster than any other part.

Look at the pattern and area that’s most affected. If it’s more in the middle, it could be a sign of overinflation, but if it’s on the side, it’s a sign of underinflation.

2. Bald Tires

When you have excessive wear and tear, your tires are likely to appear bald without any pattern. Drivers often encounter this problem before they hit the expected tire mileage, which can be frustrating.

If your tires don’t have any tread bars left, they won’t have any grip on the road and could easily cause a road accident.

Therefore, check your treads regularly, especially before going on a long trip, to confirm whether they can handle a drive.

3. Tread Wear Indicator Bar

3. Tread Wear Indicator Bar

Compared to older tires, the newer models have a tread wear indicator bar built-in on the tire to help you know when it’s losing the tread pattern.

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Indicator bars are barely visible when your tires are new; however, they start appearing as your tread decreases.

As your tire loses the tread pattern, the rubber bars appear flat and run perpendicular to the tread’s direction.

Once you start noticing one or two tread bars, it’s a sign that your tread is low. If the bars start appearing on all your tires, you need to check with your tire dealer or mechanic and replace the old tires.

4. Tread Depth

Tire tread depth has a legal limit of 1.6 mm; therefore, your tires shouldn’t go below this at any time. When you’re having your regular tire maintenance and checks, you should have the depth measured by a mechanic.

Alternatively, you can also check this at home using the penny test. With this test, you’ll need to insert a penny into the tire tread and ensure that the head side of the coin is pointed down.

If the head is visible above the tread, this means your tread has gone low and you’ll need to replace the tire.

5. Sidewall Cracks

Apart from the tread, the sidewall can also present problems that indicate that your tire is damaged.

Therefore, you need also to observe the sidewall, which is the outer flat surface of the tire, for any cuts and cracks.

If you notice any cracks on the sidewall, it could be a sign that your tire is losing tire pressure, and a leak is dangerous because it could lead to punctures when driving.

Therefore, keep checking occasionally and have the tires repaired as soon as possible to prevent any potential road accidents.

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6. Sidewall Bulges

6. Sidewall Bulges

Bad tires also have bulges and blisters on the outer surface, which causes the tire to weaken. These bulges are pretty risky and could cause a tire blowout, so as soon as you spot one, have the tire replaced as soon as possible.

7. Tire Noise

Tire manufactures have invested in a large amount of noise-reducing technologies to make drives quieter than in previous years. Therefore, if your tires become noisy, this is an indicator of a problem.

Tires could make some minimal noises when driving on rough terrain, which is normal, but some noises can be quite abnormal.

Therefore, look out for humming, thumping, or grinding sounds that affect the car’s performance. If these persist, maybe it’s time to replace the tires.

8. Excess Vibration

Just like noise, too much vibration could mean that your tires are damaged. While vibrations are normal when driving on poorly paved roads, it becomes a problem when it’s too much on a paved highway.

Excess vibration could also be a sign of misaligned tires, unbalanced wheels, damaged shock absorbers, or suspension.

This vibration could worsen and affect your steering wheel since the two parts are connected. In addition, it could also be a sign of a problem that’s harder to identify. Therefore, it’s better to take your car to the mechanic for checks.

9. Tire Wobbling

Wobbling is a clear sign that your tires have a problem, which occurs even at low speeds and causes your car to bounce a lot because of the separation of internal belts.

When your tires start wobbling, you’ll also notice that the steering wheel becomes loose and starts shaking. Therefore, have your mechanic identify the source of the problem.

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10. Loss Of Traction

When driving through wet roads, you can easily know if your tires don’t have the proper traction. They’ll start skidding because there are no grooves on the tire to allow the water to pass through the tread.

If the water is unable to escape, your car will also start hydroplaning. When this happens, your tire will start lifting off from the road and lose all the traction.

11. Tire Pressure Warning Signs

Most modern cars come fitted with a built-in tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) to alert drivers about potential tire problems.

Since it’s impossible to identify tire pressure issues with the naked eye, TPMS sends a warning when the pressure is low, and if the alert keeps coming up, your tires might have a problem that needs to be addressed by a tire professional.

12. Fuel Economy

Bad tires can negatively affect your fuel economy, because when they’re damaged, the car requires more power to move, which consumes a lot of gas in the long run.

To know more about tires, you can also see our posts on whether or not wheel spacers are bad, if tire shine is bad for tires, and overinflated tires symptoms.


Tires are a critical part of your vehicle and need to be managed appropriately. When tires are in bad shape, they won’t serve you well and could be very dangerous on the road.

If your tires are damaged, there are different signs and symptoms to look out for. Once you spot any of these indicators, you should have the tires checked immediately to determine whether they need to be replaced.

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