What are the Different Types of Tire Damage?

Keith Koons

Tire damage is a broad description used to describe any kind of problem that could negatively affect the optimal performance of car tires. It can be caused by a variety of factors, ranging from poor storage to improper usage, but perhaps the most common reasons are under-inflation or poor driving habits. There are three main types of tire damage; sidewall damage, bead damage, and tread damage, and each of them could lead to serious injury for the driver if warning signs are neglected.

Tread damage to a tire is often the result of overuse.
Tread damage to a tire is often the result of overuse.

The most important role of a tire is to help it remain in motion by providing a solid grip on roadways, and this grip is instrumental in providing traction during acceleration or when braking. Tread damage means that the treads are either balding or punctured, and the resulting effect could cause a vehicle to become unstable. A major cause of tread damage includes excessive usage of the tire, poor braking systems, and driving on rough trails where debris such as nails or sharp objects are present. These issues can be resolved by having tires changed according to the manufacturer guidelines and inspecting them frequently for roadside punctures.

Tires need to be regularly checked for punctures.
Tires need to be regularly checked for punctures.

Another common type of tire damage occurs within the sidewalls, and cracks can often form due to a variety of reasons. Chemicals used during tire cleaning or the use of pressure washers are a few of the primary causes, but overheating of the tire due to lack of air can also lead to sidewall cracks. Hitting potholes or debris at high speeds is another common cause of sidewall cracks, and these types of dangers can often lead to blowouts that cause serious accidents. The above problems can be avoided by maintaining a safe tire pressure, driving with caution, and avoiding the use of chemicals that are not designed for tires.

Using a pressure washer on tires can damage their sidewalls and cause cracking.
Using a pressure washer on tires can damage their sidewalls and cause cracking.

Examining the point of contact between the tire and the rim also marks a very significant area when talking about tire damage. Should the rim and the tire fail to link properly at the beading, there will likely be damage that could result in a rapid drop of tire pressure, causing an explosion. Also, the risk is much higher when dealing with multi-piece rims since they stand a greater chance of snapping and causing damage in the process. This kind of damage can be prevented by ensuring the tires are kept within the recommended alignment and the correct tire size is fitted to the rim.

Low tire pressure can quickly damage tires.
Low tire pressure can quickly damage tires.
Maintaining the appropriate air pressure in tires is important for both safety and fuel efficiency.
Maintaining the appropriate air pressure in tires is important for both safety and fuel efficiency.
Car tires can be easily changed with the use of a simple car jack.
Car tires can be easily changed with the use of a simple car jack.

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Discussion Comments


An uneven allow rim can also cause damage to the sidewalls.


I'm buying four tires from Walmart and 30,000 miles later the tire is cracked between the streets outside, and they say: The tire is just dried, and I'm telling them the tire still has half the treads and looks even with no damage except it's cracked, and I can see the wires inside the tire. I asked them if it is safe to drive like that and they said yes.


@parmnparsley- Your tires are over inflated. I can almost guarantee that this is what is causing your tire wear problems. When a tire is overinflated, it rolls more on the center tread lugs than the side tread lugs.

The best course of action would be to ask your mechanic what air pressure you should maintain next time you buy tires. Additionally, you should remember to check your tires regularly. Regular visual inspections of your tires will allow you to catch problems with tire wear before they become dangerous. You should also check your tire pressure regularly to extend the use of your tires and maintain a safe vehicle.


Why does the inside of my tire wear faster than the outside of my tire? I know very little about cars, but I know that tires are expensive. The shoulders of my tires wear much slower than the middles of my tires, and it makes my car slide a lot in rain and snow. I would appreciate any advice anyone can offer.


I am not sure if your tires are cupping or feathering. I have actually never heard of tires scalloping, but maybe it is a difference in where we are from. Feathering is when the edges of a tread rib begin to round, leaving the opposite side with a sharper edge. This occurs because of improper toe-in during alignment. One can fix the wear caused by feathering by rotating the tires and adjusting the toe-in setting.

Cupping occurs when there is uneven edge near the side of the tire, creating a cupped wear pattern. This type of tire wear is almost always indicative of a suspension problem. Pinpointing the problem can be difficult, because it can be any component that helps connect the tire to the vehicle. You may have worn ball joints, worn or bent shocks and struts, worn bushings, bad wheel bearings, or worn tie rods.


What causes scalloping in a tire? My tires started to scallop along one edge (only in the front). I replaced the tires, but the new tires are doing the same thing. Does anyone have any experience with tire wear patterns? Can anyone help me find what is causing my tires to do this?


@Chicada- I used to have a similar problem on my truck, and I found out it was because I was using tires that were not well suited for the job. I used my truck to pull horse trailers on a regular basis. I had the problem where little chunks of my tire would break off before the tires were even a year old. To solve the problem, I bought tires with a higher number of tire ply then my previous tires. I switched from a six-ply tire to a ten-ply tire, and the problem went away. I hope this helps your situation.


Why does my tire pit? Is it safe to drive with tires that are falling apart like this? I drive a truck, and the tires are starting to pit. They only have about 20,000 miles on them, but the tread lugs seem to be chipping and breaking off. I do not want to suffer a major blowout. Should I replace the tires? Will the manufacture honor the warranty if the tires are pitting? I do not do any off road driving, so I do not understand why my tires are doing this.

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