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When are tires too damaged to keep?

One of the many rites of passage when it comes to car ownership is a damaged tire. Often this leaves you stuck changing it on the side of the road or waiting for a tow truck, but sometimes the damage doesn’t make itself known immediately. Sometimes a tire can take a hit but stay inflated, in this blog we help you figure out when tires are too damaged to keep.

Close-up of tire puncture screw nail, Damaged punctured tires


First on the list, and arguably the most common form of tire damage, is the humble puncture. This can happen anywhere, at any time, to anyone. It could be a nail, piece of glass, screw, or even a sharp enough pebble. This generally presents itself when you come out to your car in the morning and notice one of your tires is really almost flat. This is typically repairable, as long as the puncture is on the tread, and not much bigger than a pencil. If the puncture is on the sidewall, or bigger than a pencil, that is unrepairable and the tire must be replaced.

Sidewall Bubbles

One of the more peculiar forms of tire damage is when air gets in between the layers of rubber, creating a sort of “blister” on the sidewall. While it may look tempting to poke it with something sharp, we assure you that is not a good idea. There’s a lot of pressure in a tire and poking a hole can end pretty unpredictably. There is no way to repair this kind of damage, as soon as you spot it, the tire must be replaced.

Newcastle UK: 8th July 2023: close-up of a damaged car tyre with a large bulge and persihed rubber


Tires roll over a lot of unsavory stuff in their lifetime. Sometimes this stuff is quite sharp, and can cut into the tire. If the cut is on the tread, you just might be in the clear. If the cut is shallower than the tread depth itself, the cut won’t have affected anything structural. You can keep using the tire, but you’ll definitely want to have it looked at by a professional, and keep a close eye on it going forward. If the cut is deeper than the current tread depth, the structure of the tire is compromised, and it must be replaced.


This is one of the trickier types of damage to spot, and will most often be brought up during an inspection. When a tire has a harsh impact from running over something solid or hitting a deep pothole, the steel cords that reinforce the rubber can break internally. This causes the tire to bulge in one section across the tread, causing a very slight “teardrop” shape, or along the length of the tread, causing one side of the tire to be a slightly larger diameter. Any bulge on a tire is irreparable, and must be replaced.

When all is going to plan, tires are our cars’ only point of contact with the road. They roll over anything and everything, usually without complaint. It’s amazing that punctures don’t happen more if you ask us.  If you’ve hit a pothole extra hard recently, or see your tire getting a bit flat and want to get things checked out, stop by Motor Werke or book an appointment to have one of our licensed technicians look things over. We’ll advise you on the best course of action so you can get back on the road, safely, as soon as possible.