Can I Drive With a Bubble in My Tire?

March 28, 2017

bubble in tire
Image Courtesy of Flickr (warrenski)

Tire bubbles are a common issue among drivers. And though it may seem like going for a drive with a bubble in your tire isn't a huge deal, it can be extremely dangerous.

Essentially, a tire bubble is the first step to a total car tire blowout. A tire blowout at high speeds can cause you to completely lose control of your car - one of the most dangerous situations that any driver can be in.

So, we're here to give you the basics on tire bubbles - what they are, how they're caused, how to recognize them, and more. Read on, educate yourself, and stay safe on the road!

What exactly is a tire bubble?

Tire bubbles are caused by the buildup of air in the main body of your car tire. Usually, air is held in place by the inner liner of the tire. If this liner is damaged in any way, air will begin to vent uncontrollably into the main body of the tire.

When this occurs, the air will begin to collect in weaker parts of the tire ' usually areas that have already suffered some wear and tear. The air is seeking a way out of the tire, and weakened rubber can provide that escape.

This leads to the formation of a tire bubble. As weakened rubber begins to fail, a bubble forms on your car tire due to the constantly-building internal air pressure caused by your ruptured tire liner.

What causes tire bubbles?

The most common cause of a tire bubble is a pinched tire. Impact damage from bumping into a curb, driving over a pothole, running over a piece of debris, or even crossing railroad tracks can cause your tire to be "pinched" against the rim of your wheel.

If your wheel is pinched with enough force, the rim can pierce the material of the tire deeply and damage the inner liner of your tire, compromising its structural integrity and causing air to be released into the body of the tire.

As the air seeks a way to escape, it will find a weak area of the tire - and a tire bubble will form.

Where should I look for a tire bubble?

Tire bubbles are most commonly found on the sidewall of your tires. The rubber in this area is quite thin compared to the tread, so it's a natural place for escaping air to collect and form a bubble.

It's a good idea to check for tire bubbles regularly - we recommend checking for tire bubbles whenever you refill your tires or check your tire pressure.

Don't drive with a tire bubble 

Absolutely not. Driving on a tire bubble is extremely dangerous. A large tire bubble is basically a ticking time bomb - the only things preventing a complete blowout of your tire are a few thin layers of sidewall rubber, nylon, and polyester.

If you keep driving a car with a tire bubble, you will experience a blowout. It's just that simple. As soon as you notice a tire bubble, you should call a towing company to get you to the nearest tire repair shop - don't risk trying to get there on your own.

Unfortunately, there is no way to fix a tire bubble safely. Tire bubbles are much more serious than a simple flat tire - and are a sign that significant damage has already been done to the internal structure of your tire. Even if you haven't experienced a blowout, you'll need to get a replacement tire.

Get tire bubbles analyzed, and get a new tire

If you have a bubble in your tire, you should stop driving and seek a professional repair service immediately. A professional will be able to take a look at your tire, analyze its failure, and recommend appropriate next steps —usually tire replacement.

Service shops can also analyze your tire to determine why it failed. If it failed for no reason, it's possible that you could be eligible for a replacement tire from the manufacturer.

So don't risk your life by driving with a tire bubble. Pull over, get towed to a professional repair shop, and let an expert take a look at your tires. It's the only way to make sure you stay safe behind the wheel.

About the Author

Kimberlea Buczeke is an automotive expert at RepairPal, the leading online source of auto repair resources and estimates. With many ASE Master certified mechanics on staff who have decades of experience, RepairPal knows all the fine points of car repair.

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