No matter what sort of tire damage you’ve noticed on your car, sidewall damage, in particular, can be very troublesome.
Whether you’ve been in an accident or have suddenly noticed cracks in your sidewall, you may be wondering if it’s time to replace your tires or if you can rectify the damage with a repair. Keep reading below for everything you need to know!
What Is Sidewall Tire Damage?
Sidewall tire damage is any sort of cracking or splitting that occurs to the side of the tire. This damage can occur due to an accident, defect of aging, or even everyday wear. Sadly, this sort of damage cannot be repaired and is considered dangerous. Because sidewalls do not have steel cables, any sort of damage can quickly progress and be unsafe to drive on.
Keep reading below to learn how to prevent sidewall damage, why you shouldn’t attempt to patch it, and more!
Is It Safe to Drive on a Tire with Sidewall Damage?
You should never drive around with sidewall damage. While driving, the damage to your sidewall can quickly become worse. After the integrity of the tire has been compromised, things can go downhill rather quickly.
Plus, sidewall damage can also lead to blowouts. As you might imagine, this can cause damage to your vehicle, as well as put you and others in danger.
For the most part, there isn’t a level of sidewall damage that is okay. You never know when even a tiny problem will suddenly become severe and lead to a blowout. Even simple driving can make the wound much worse very quickly.
Furthermore, damage to your tire sidewall can also lead to handling issues. Because the tire has been compromised, your car may not handle as well as it did previously. Even if your tire doesn’t blow, poor handling can lead to an accident.
Remember, a tire’s sidewall is one of the most vulnerable. Unlike other parts of the tire, the sidewall does not have any cords holding it together. In other words, it is just rubber.
Therefore, a little bit of damage can quickly become more severe with regular use.
Can a Tire with Sidewall Damage Be Repaired?
Technically, sidewalls can be repaired. In most cases, you can find someone willing to repair a sidewall.
However, these repairs are not typically very effective and do not last very long. Even when repaired, you never know when your tire’s sidewall will give out again, potentially leading to a blowout and accident.
For this reason, it is not advised to drive on a tire with sidewall damage – even if that damage has technically been repaired.
While a tire’s tread can be patched, the sidewall is weaker because it does not contain any cords. In other words, it’s just plain rubber, which isn’t very stable after it’s been damaged.
Usually, it is in your best interest to replace the whole tire. While this is more costly, patches simply can’t stand up to the stress suffered by the sidewall.
How Do You Fix a Cracked Tire Sidewall?
Simply put, you can’t. At least, you can’t safely.
With that said, there are some directions online for fixing sidewall cracks and similar problems. However, these repairs are not recommended, as they don’t last long and can cause blowouts at any point.
While tread repairs are possible, sidewalls do not have steel cables. Therefore, their integrity is severely compromised after cracks or other sorts of damage.
For this reason, I highly recommend just purchasing a new tire if your sidewall becomes damaged. While it might be more expensive, it is much safer.
How Does a Tire Get Sidewall Damage?
Sidewall damage can occur for many different reasons – from tire age to accidents.
Firstly, underinflation of the wheel can cause sidewall damage. Luckily, most cars today have monitoring systems that let you know when your car’s tire is underinflated. However, you should still regularly check the inflation level.
After all, you never know when your car’s internal monitoring system will malfunction.
Secondly, tires become more susceptible to damage as they age, including sidewall damage. After many years of use, the rubber may simply break down to the point that it cracks.
Technically, nothing caused this damage. Instead, it is just a symptom of the tire’s age.
Thirdly, overloading your tires can cause them to bow too much, leading to cracks and similar damage on the sidewall. Furthermore, overloading can make your vehicle wobble, which can also cause sidewall damage.
Be sure not to exceed your tire’s load.
Furthermore, regular tire wear can cause sidewall damage. If your tire is worn and overused, the rubber may not be very strong, making it more prone to damage.
Of course, something still has to typically hit your sidewall for it to crack in this instance.
Finally, hitting curbs and similar obstacles at high speeds can also cause sidewall damage. In most cases, the damage starts minor and then becomes worse as you drive around.
How Do I Know If My Sidewall is Damaged?
Typically, a simple examination will let you know if your sidewall is damaged. Cracks and punctures are pretty easy to see with the naked eye, even if you aren’t a trained expert.
With that said, indents are typically standard and shouldn’t affect performance. These indents are caused by the fabric cords that cover the inside of the sidewall. Where these cords intersect, there may be a slight indent.
Again, this is normal and nothing to worry about.
On the other hand, bulges and bubbles are a sign of underlying cord damage. Sadly, this sort of damage cannot be repaired. Therefore, you must replace the whole tire – preferably as quickly as possible.
Significantly, you should never drive on a tire with potential sidewall damage. In many cases, this damage is highly prone to bursting, as sidewalls are not very strong.
What Is Considered the Sidewall of a Car Tire?
Under most definitions, the sidewall of a tire is the side of the tire, as you might guess from the name. Pretty easy to remember.
In actuality, the sidewall doesn’t do much. Its primary purpose is to protect the cord body on the inside.
Furthermore, meaningful information about the tire is often also printed onto the sidewall. Usually, this information includes the tire’s size, load capabilities, and speed rating.
Because sidewalls are exposed to the sun and elements more, they are often explicitly designed to withstand ozone and UV light.
With that said, sidewalls lack the steel cables that are underneath the thread. Therefore, they are not as durable or repairable after being damaged. Once their integrity is breached, they are pretty susceptible to blowouts.
Is Sidewall Tire Damage Covered Under Warranty?
In some cases, sidewall damage is covered under warranty. However, you need to check with your tire manufacturer and the specific warranty covering the tire. In many cases, there are many stipulations to the warranty.
For instance, damage that is caused by the workmanship and material problems are often covered. However, if you hit something and damaged your sidewall, it wouldn’t be.
In other words, tire warranties often don’t cover things you did to the tire – only problems caused by apparent defects.
Therefore, if the sidewall just randomly breaks, it may qualify for a replacement under warranty. But if you hit something with the tire, it wouldn’t be.
In many cases, you have to prove that it’s a defect, which can be challenging to do in many cases.
However, many warranties also don’t cover damage caused by “misuse.” As you might imagine, what counts as misuse varies. Many warranties will outline things you can’t do with the tire without voiding the warranty.
Furthermore, just like with all warranties, tire warranties eventually expire. Usually, this occurs when the tire is six years old or worn past a certain tread level. After this point, the tire is considered old and should be replaced.
After this point, damages that occur to the sidewall won’t be covered. The company doesn’t expect the tire to last longer than six years.
Sometimes, you can purchase separate “road hazard” warranties. Simply put, these warranties cover your tires if you run over something that causes a puncture. Usually, the warranty covers the repair, or a new tire should the repair not be possible.
Of course, this warranty would cover your sidewall if it became punctured. However, punctures are pretty rare on sidewalls since they don’t touch the road.
Do Cracked Tires Need to be Replaced?
Cracks are a sign that your tire’s sidewall has become compromised. Therefore, it is a sure sign that the tire needs to be replaced. While many things may cause the sidewall to crack, none of them are good.
For instance, direct damage can cause cracks, such as hitting a curb. At the same time, old tires may simply crack due to wear and tear. Sometimes, UV light can even cause unused tires to crack.
Unlike punctures, cracked sidewalls cannot be repaired safely. With that said, there are some repairs available online and some professionals willing to give it a try.
However, it is often not the best idea, as damaged sidewalls have severely limited integrity. Without the steel cables that the treads have, sidewalls have a tough time staying together, even after being repaired.
In other words, sidewall repairs can come undone at any point, leading to blowouts.
Plus, air can easily escape through the cracks in a tire, leading to flat tires before you know it. Even great repair jobs often can’t stop these leaks.
If you are looking to learn more, you might also be interested in reading up on if you can get a flat tire from hitting a curb, tire feathering, and blown-out tires.
Sidewall damage can occur for a variety of different reasons, ranging from accidents to aging. Sadly, no matter what caused the damage, sidewalls cannot be repaired with patches like other parts of the tire.
Furthermore, even minor damage can become worse while you’re driving. Sometimes, this damage can lead to random blowouts, endangering you and other drivers.
For this reason, any tire with sidewall damage should be quickly replaced.