What are signs of bad tyres?

By Julia Freeman

Tyres are easy to look after, but some signs of tyre wear are even easier to miss if you don’t know what you’re looking for. We’ve put together a handy guide of what to look out for to help keep you safe on the road.

One sign of a problem tyre is an accident. Don’t wait for that one! Here are a few earlier symptoms you can pick up on.

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Low tread depth

Most people know they are supposed to check their tyre grooves with a 20p but never do it. Some would say that’s just as well considering the scarcity of 20p pieces these days and the poor accuracy.
The rim of a 20p is 3mm while the law states grooves must never be under 1.6mm. However, they mean no groove anywhere can be less than 1.6mm and it is pretty hard to check everywhere – even if the wheel is off the ground. You really do need to check this considering that the fine is up to £2500 per wheel.
Countless studies demonstrate a sharp deterioration in braking and aquaplaning when treads descend to 3mm, so it does make sense to call a Protyre garage at that point and let our tyre professionals do a full examination. There is no charge for quick tyre checks and our tyre professionals’ advice. If you need to buy car tyres, we have the best range and expertise in the country.
So, the 20p test does work after all. Now all you have to do is find one!

Cracking on the tread is bad

Under typical driving conditions it should never happen, but if you’ve covered lots of miles, left the car exposed to the weather, or the tyres are simply old, it can happen. They oxidise and start to crack. This is a sign that the rubber that is hardening and disintegrating and is no longer safe, no matter how deep the tread.

Blisters, gashes, and hernias

Bulges, gashes, or exposed sublayers are serious reasons for driving to a Protyre garage urgently for a professional tyre evaluation. A gash might be less serious than it looks, but erosion and blisters are dangerous.

Air loss

Tyres that quickly lose air need urgent repair. At Protyre these repairs are quick and cheap, assuming that the problem is on the tread area rather than the sidewall, so it is senseless to delay. If you just keep pumping up leaking tyres you will probably cause additional tyre damage.


If you detect new vibrations, a tyre check is a good place to start; shimmying, pulls on the steering column, and a variety of not so wonderful vibrations can be caused by damaged tyres. In any event, let Protyre investigate.


Age doesn’t improve tyres – even when they have never been fitted. The compounds used in tyres vary from brand to brand, so it is hard to generalise, but you don’t want old tyres. It doesn’t matter if they aged on the road or on a warehouse shelf. After 10 years (some say six) they should be thinking about recycling and reincarnation as doorstops and dog-toys (we are passionate about recycling at Protyre).
The manufacture date is a 4-digit number on the sidewall (denoting week and year).

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Protyre is not tied exclusively to any specific manufacturer so we can provide impartial advice about Pirelli, Bridgestone, Michelin, Hankook, Falken, or any other tyre brand. Use our online tyre and garage finder or call us for free tyre advice.

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About the author

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By Julia Freeman
Julia is Head of Retail Marketing for Protyre and loves engaging with customers and the business as a whole to make sure Protyre is more than just a local garage.
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