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How to Spot Tyre Damage


A hand pointing to a tyre to show worn tread

Scrapes, bruises and cuts are commonplace during everyday life. And no, we’re not talking about the human body. It’s amazing how many people ignore the warning signs when it comes to tyre damage. As the only thing keeping your vehicle attached to the road, you should regularly examine your tyres, preferably on a weekly basis. Failure to do so could result in fines, vehicular damage or injury to yourself or others.

So, how do you spot the warning signs before they become dangerous? There are many clues to look out for, and like Sherlock Holmes, we’re going to lay out the cold, hard facts in front of you. Make sure to fasten your seatbelts before we begin.

Clue 1: Worn or Bald Tyres

All drivers will encounter this problem at some point, which is why it’s important to frequently check your tyres. Like a well-shaven head, a bald tyre feels smooth to the touch, which is no good on uneven surfaces that require grip. There’s a reason that the recommended tread depth is 3mm!

It should be noted that the minimum tread-depth in the UK is 1.6mm, after which you’ll be fined and receive points if you’re found with tyres of a lower tread depth. The fines aren’t cheap either, with up to £2,500 of your hard earned cash on the line. You won’t need that much to check your tyres though, as you simply need 20p.

Just place the 20p piece in the tread along the width of the tyre. If you can see the edge of the 20p, the tyre depth is below the legal limit, and you need to act fast. Driving with a lower tread depth can be very dangerous, especially if you’re travelling in adverse weather conditions, such as rain or snow.

You can easily check for bald or balding tyres via a quick examination too. Your tyres should feel rugged to the touch, and they shouldn’t be shiny unless you clean your car on a daily basis. (Some people love their cars, and we don’t blame them.) Tyre pressure also effects where the tyres are worn, and the rate of wear, so make sure that you’re following the guidelines from your car manual.

Premium or Budget?

You may be tempted to buy a set of budget tyres and save some money in the short term, but in the long run, you could be spending more money than you’d like. Budget and part-worn tyres could be the devil in disguise, as they’re not regulated and tested like mid-range or premium tyres.

Premium brands, such as Dunlop, ensure that each tyre undergoes rigorous testing. They spend a lot of money to enhance their summer or winter tyres, making sure that each tyre operates efficiently on the road, and beyond.  

Clue 2: Damage to the Sidewall

Tyres are built to withstand knocks and bumps along the road, but consistent damage, such as hitting a kerb, can result in damage within the tyres. For that reason, it’s important to check for marks, scrapes or bulges. As with worn or bald tyres, a quick visual examination should reveal all.

If you notice something that’s out of place, it may be best to take it to a professional for an examination, as it could be a sign of interior damage to the tyre. Your tyre tread may be fine, but the tyre itself could succumb to excess pressure after damage to the sidewall. We’ve heard many a tale of a popped tyre or sudden flat for this reason, so it’s vital that you get it checked sooner rather than later.

Although unavoidable, potholes are also pests for the sidewall of your tyres, as the uneven surface plays havoc with the structure. If you can avoid them, please do it in a safe, controlled manner.

Clue 3: Foreign Objects

Unfortunately for the everyday driver, there are some problems that are simply unavoidable. Nails, glass and stones can become lodged in the tread of your tyre, causing immediate damage or damage over time. These objects are usually unnoticeable as you’re driving, making it a frustrating case of bad luck when you do hit one.

Simply examine your tyres for any noticeable objects, and remove them if possible. Many people become unnerved at the prospect of removing objects from their tyres. In our experience, a small nail can be removed with a pair of pliers, while you should take tyres with larger objects to your local dealer for an examination.

A weekly tyre check could save you hundreds of pounds in the long run, while only taking less than 5 minutes of your time. The best part? You can usually solve the problems yourself with a trusty pair of pliers. If you’re unsure about it, it is always best to take it to a professional.

  • How to Spot Tyre Damage
  • How to Spot Tyre Damage

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