What to Do If You Have a Bubble in Your Tire

Posted on: January 21, 2016

As a diligent and thoughtful car owner, you check on your car every once in a while before driving. As you conduct your checks, you notice that one of your tires has a bubble on its sidewall. You may be thinking, “Oh no! What do I do?”. Instead of panicking, let’s take a closer look!

Causes of Tire Bubbles 

How exactly did a bubble form in the first place? At a basic level, tires are made up of multiple layers of ply and rubber. The ply creates the rigid structure and provides strength to the tires while the rubber is bonded to the plies with glue.

As a result of this structure, there are multiple reasons for bubbles to occur, including: 

  • Manufacturing defects
  • Lack of air pressure or too much load
  • Road conditions

Regardless of the cause, all of these will cause a gap to form between the layers in the sidewall. Initially, a small bubble will form. However as more moisture and air seeps in, the bubbles will get larger.

Though unlikely, it is possible that manufacturing defects could cause bubbles to form. When a manufacturing issue arises, most often the glue fails to hold the layers together creating a gap for bubbles to form. However, more robust manufacturing processes and better materials have helped reduce the likelihood of defects. 

On the other hand, lack of tire pressure, too much load, and road conditions (pot holes and speed bumps) are the culprits most often.

How to Prevent Tire Bubbles 

Even though you cannot avoid potholes or speed bumps that damage your tires, there is a lot you can do to prevent bubbles from forming. Make sure that you inspect your tires often and look for changes in structure and pressure. Use a pressure gauge to check your tire pressures, especially when seasons change. Also, feel your tires and check for bubbles on the sidewalls.

Nowadays, newer car models have tire pressure monitoring systems that notify you when your tire pressure is low. Heed these warnings and fill your tires with air. Once you fill you car with air, the warning should disappear after driving for a while. If the warning reappears or remains, take the car to the shop to have it inspected, repaired, or replaced.

Though you can fill your tires at the gas station for a few cents, it may be wise to invest in an air pump. This is convenient and will save money and time in the long run!

What to Do If You Have a Tire Bubble

Unfortunately, you cannot take any action yourself to repair bubbles. Instead, you will have to take your car to the shop immediately. When you see a bubble, this is a sign of a major problem you need to address quickly.

As you drive in different road conditions and speeds, the bubble may get much bigger. The longer you wait, the bigger it gets! Eventually the layer will burst leaving you with a flat tire.

How Much Will It Cost?

The cost of getting this repaired depends on the warranty you have with the tire. If the bubble forms as a result of a manufacturing defect, you could probably get the manufacturer to replace your tires for free. However, this depends on the time-frame as most warranties last 4-6 years or until the tread is gone, whichever comes first.

Your first impulse may be to blame the manufacturer. However, the presence of rubber shavings inside the tire will indicate road hazard damage, especially with sidewall bubbles.

If the bubble forms as a result of a road hazard or improper maintenance, then you could get assistance from a road hazard warranty you purchased. Most of the time, these warranties cover damage from flats resulting from a variety of conditions, including bubbles and nails. The store will either repair the damage or give you a replacement for free.

Unfortunately, damage as a result of bubbles cannot be repaired because the tire’s internal structure has failed. The tire will have to get replaced and this can be anywhere from $150 to $600 for a single tire.

If you want to reduce or avoid this expense, consider purchasing road hazard insurance, especially if you live in an area with a lot of construction. The few extra dollars you spend may be worth it.

Conclusion

Finding a sidewall bubble in your tires is not the end of the world! Take the tires to the nearest shop and get the issue addressed immediately. Do not attempt to drive the car for long until you get this fixed. As a precautionary measure, regularly inspect your tires and make sure they have enough pressure.