There's A Bubble In My Tire! What Should I Do?

Sparky Express

What is a tire sidewall bubble?

A sidewall bubble is a bulge (lump) popping from the sidewall of the tire. It could be caused by air leaking from the inside of the tire into the or body (carcass) of your tire.

Tire sidewall bubble

What causes a tire sidewall bubble?

The vast majority of bubbles are caused by impact damage. If your tire hits a sharp object in the road, the force from the weight and speed of the vehicle is focused in the small area of contact. This causes the tire to compress in that area enough that the inside of the sidewall is pinched and damaged causing a small hole in the inside tire liner layer. The impact can also damage the sidewall cords and significantly weaken the tire. This type of impact damage is not usually noticed noticed by the driver right away.

Some common types of impact are:

  • potholes
  • railroad crossings
  • speed bumps
  • curbs
  • heavily damaged roads
  • road construction areas
  • debris in the road

Occasionally, a defect in the tire can also cause the bubble. Determining the cause is fairly simple. Inspect the outside of the tire for obvious cuts or bruises.

When the tire is removed for replacement:

  • Mark the area where the bubble is (it will deflate when the tire is deflated.)
  • Inspect the bead area for cuts or abrasions
  • Inspect the inner liner for cuts or bruises. Your tire technician will need to press inwards on the area of the bubble to find any breaks in the inner liner.

If no damage is found, a claim will need to be submitted by an authorized dealer to the tire manufacturer. The tire manufacturer may need to inspect the tire as well to make a warranty determination. Each tire manufacturer's procedures differ slightly.

Can tire sidewall bubbles be repaired?

No, unfortunately sidewall bubbles cannot be repaired. Because the area flexes while driving, a patch will not stay in place. The bubble (or tire lump), also indicates that there is some kind of structural damage in your tire that cannot be repaired. A tire in this condition could fail without warning and should not be driven on. We recommend the spare tire be used until a replacement can be found. The tire must and should be replaced as soon as possible.