Tire bulges are a real pain. One day you’re trundling along and enjoying the smooth ride of your favorite car- the next? Something has caught your eye, and upon closer inspection you notice there’s an egg-shaped swelling on the side of your car tire. What is it? How did it get there? And are you safe to continue driving? Read on for the answers to all these questions and more.
What is a “Tire Bulge”?
You may notice that the bulges on the sidewall of your tire come under various names; tire bubbles, bulges, sidewall protrusions etc. No matter what your preference, they all come under the same bracket- a damaged tire. They usually appear somewhat egg-shaped and can sometimes be easy to miss if you aren’t the type to pay too much attention to your car- although some can be very obvious, if the damage is particularly bad.
What Causes a Tire Bubble?
Tire bulges occur for multiple reasons, the most common being impacts on the road. If you know that you’ve hit a pothole recently, you can be pretty sure that the bang caused from your tire hitting the edges and the dip itself have probably cause the sidewall bulge in your tire. Of course, these aren’t the only reason. Any type of small “collision” can cause your car’s weight to be transferred onto one spot- usually your tires- which break the inner lining of your tire and cause the bubble to appear. Think; railroad crossings, driving up a kerb when parking, speed bumps etc.
That’s not to say that there aren’t other reasons for bubbles in tire, which can include manufacturing faults, the rubber of the tire wearing out over time (and long distances) causing the rubber to become more prone to damage from the road and poorly inflated tires. You’re also more likely to suffer from bulges in your tire sidewall if you live in a colder climate, since the rubber of the tire is less malleable in cold temperatures.
Can I Drive with a Bulge in my Tire?
If you notice the bulge once you’re at home, the answer is a very firm “no”. Unfortunately, any tires with bulges (in the sidewall or otherwise) are no longer considered safe. This is because the fabric of the inner tire can no longer protect your tire from bursting through pressure developed on the road. All you need is one small bump, sharp turn or even a hard brake for the pressure to rise in the tire and the bulge to turn into a bang.
Of course, if you’re in the middle of nowhere and find yourself with a bulge in your tire, you would have to drive- slowly and carefully- to your nearest garage to see about getting the bubbles in your tires fixed, ASAP.
How to Fix a Tire with Bulges
Unfortunately, there is no way to fix a tire bulge yourself. The best and easiest way to get rid of a tyre bulge is to change the tire itself. Of course, if times are hard, it can be worth getting a part-worn tire from your local scrapyard- which will probably fit better if the rest of your tires are fairly worn as well. It’s also recommended that you change either all your tires or two tires at a time, each time they need to be replaced, in order to keep your steering well-balanced.
If you’ve noticed a bulge in your tire and they’re fairly new, ask your local garage to check if the inner lining of the tire wall is broken. They’ll need to take this off your wheel and do some checks, where they can feel the inner wall, as well as check while inflating and deflating the tire, to see if there are any breaks, or if the lining itself has come away from the rubber. If this is the case, it could be that the tire was faulty, due to a manufacturing issue or similar, and you could claim the cost of your tire replacement. Should this be the case, don’t forget to put in to your car manufacturing company or get a form from your insurance provider, as well as obtaining a receipt for any work done by the mechanic themselves.
Preventing Tire Bubbles
Like many things in life, prevention is better than a cure and when it comes to road safety, you can be sure this is what’s preferred by everyone! There are a few obvious ways to prevent tire bubbles and bulges, and far be it for us to teach folk how to suck eggs, but we’ll go through all of them to avoid those egg-shaped bumps in your tires, just to ensure you know everything is covered.
- Avoid potholes
We know that these are the biggest causes and it’s generally good sense to always safely steer around potholes, for the good of your car. Now you have an extra reason to avoid those sneaky bumps and jumps in the road!
- Drive safely and carefully
Yes, it is a somewhat obvious point but the main factors are there: don’t rush over speedbumps, be careful when parking your car not to jump up kerbs and sidewalks and always keep your car moving when you’re turning your steering wheel strongly in one direction or the other.
- Maintain your car
Since one of the main reasons for these bulges is through too high a pressure in your tires or too low a pressure (so that the car tires have too much contact with the road), you know that maintaining this can mean the difference between constantly having to change your tires and not.
You should also get your car serviced regularly to check on the suspension and so on, ensuring that the impact your wheels face while driving can at least be evenly distributed across the car, avoiding any unnecessary damage to your tires.