When it comes to tyre damage, there are two main types: mechanical damage and factory damage. If your car suffers tyre damage, it helps to know what the cause was, as this often influences the options available to you.

To clarify, of course, we are referring to tyre damage as something that makes further use of the car tyre difficult or impossible.

What is factory damage?

As the name implies, this term refers to damage occurred at the factory, often during the tyre manufacturing process. Such defects are often filtered out at the plant but it is not impossible for such a product to make it to market.

In these cases, manufacturers will provide new tyres after analysing the existing product, since the damage did not occur as a result of your driving or through regular use.

Close-up of ripped tyre

What is factory damage?

Like the term implies, factory damage refers to tyre damage that occurred at the factory, often during the tyre manufacturing process. Such defects are often filtered out at the plant but it’s not impossible for such a product to make it to the market.

If such an event occurs, manufacturers will provide new tyres after analysing a filed complaint and faulty product, since the damage did not occur as a result of driving or through regular use.

What is mechanical damage?

Mechanical damage, on the other hand, refers to any damage that occurred while using the tyre. This happens through regular use of a tyre, as it often comes into contact with various sharp objects and rough materials. As a result, this is not due to any fault by the factory.

Nail in tyreTyre punctured with a screw

A common example, for instance, is the level of tyre wear on your tyre. Through regular use, the tyre treads will wear down. This is to be expected, although unnatural wear could be a defect from the factory.

What types of tyre damage are there?

A tyre is a rather complex product and there can be different types of damage depending on where it occurs. We can break down tyre damage into five key areas:

  • Internal
  • External
  • Side
  • Front
  • Shoulder

Why does mechanical damage occur?

Just as there are different parts to a tyre, there are many causes of mechanical tyre damage. The most common causes of damage include:

  • Vehicle loads exceeding the load index value.
  • Incorrect tyre pressure, both too low and too high.
  • Punctures with nails or other sharp objects.
  • Cutting the side of the tyre.
  • Rubbing the side of the tyre, especially against abrasive surfaces.
  • Suddenly overrunning a curb or pothole - this damages the textile, steel or bead cord ply components and causes bubbles on the side of the tyre.
  • Improper installation, including mismatched tyres and car rims.
  • Defects caused by tyre's age.
 old tyreThis tyre shows different signs of tyre damage, including side tearing and tread separation.

What are the most common types of tyre damage?

Some types of tyre damage are more common than others. As a driver, it never hurts to understand these situations, so that you can better diagnose and respond to them if they ever occur.

Nail punctures

A nail does not usually cause significant weakening to the tyre structure and only leads to rapid air release on rare occasions.


When the rubber is cut, serious damage can often occur and hot repair might be required.

Wrong tyre pressure

Incorrect tyre pressure is one of the most common causes of tyre damage and it can lead to numerous issues:

  • Edge wear and cracks along the inner fold of the butyl layer
  • Butyl layer scalding
  • Total or partial separation of the tread
  • Peripheral tear of the carcass ply along the textile cord
  • Bulges in tyre
  • Tyre sidewall damage

When should the tyre be decommissioned?

At a certain point, a tyre will ultimately be too unsafe to use but not every driver understands how to read these signs. As a guide, you should absolutely remove the tyre if it has:

  • Open or otherwise deformed bead cores.
  • Tyre cracking.
  • Peeling or ruptured rubber and carcass ply.
  • Separated treads.
  • Been damaged by chemicals and oils.
  • Damaged inner layer of butyl.
  • Visible signs of progressive corrosion.
close-up of tyre treadTyre aging and cracking can be very visible when you inspect the tyre damage.

How to detect tyre damage while driving?

These signs of wear are easy to spot when you are inspecting your tyres, but how can you detect such damage while driving your vehicle?

In general, a close examination of the tyre is the only way to determine the fault, but you can often experience some symptoms while driving. Even if you don’t know the exact nature of the damage, these signs should indicate that something is wrong with your tyres.

cracked tyreAn example of tyre damage and cuts to the sidewall

If your car has a tendency to drift off course (often known as wandering) this suggests some imbalance in your tyres, often due to one being damaged and not performing as well as the others.

Likewise, strong tremors on the steering wheel can suggest excess air is escaping the tyre, likely caused by a puncture.

What should you do if you suspect mechanical damage on a tyre?

If you suspect your tyre has encountered some form of mechanical damage, you should remove the tyre from your car, as it may not be safe. Instead, use your spare wheel and take the flat tyre to a professional tyre workshop.

Continuing to use the damaged tyre, however, will lead to its complete destruction, further impacting your safety and ability to control your car.

ripped tyreTyre damage such as this - caused by low pressure - is not safe to use on the road.