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

For the purpose of clarification, of course, we are referring to tyre damage as changes 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.

What is factory damage?

These are damages resulting from defects during manufacturing of tyres.

What Is Operational Damage?

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

screw-in-tyre

Tyre punctured with a screw – a quite frequently encountered situation.

A common example, for instance, is the level of tyre wear on your products. 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 are the types of operational damages?

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 operational damage occur?

Just as there are different parts to a tyre, there are many causes of operational 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 the formation of bubbles on the side of the tyre.
  • Improper installation, including mismatched tyres and car rims.
  • Defects caused by natural tyre age.
destroyed-tyre

This tyre shows different signs of tyre damage, including side tearing and tread separation.

What are the most common types of damage?

Some types of damage are more common than others. As a driver, it never hurts to understand these instances, 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.

Cuts

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

Insufficient pressure

Incorrect tyre pressure is one of the most common causes 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 carcass ply along the textile cord
bump-on-sidewall

Look for bumps and irregularities along the tyre.]

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.
  • Peeling or ruptured rubber and carcass ply.
  • Separated treads.
  • Been damaged b chemicals and oils.
  • Damaged inner layer of butyl.
  • Visible signs of progressive corrosion.

tyre-cracks

Tyre aging and cracking can be very visible when you inspect the tyre damage.

How to detect damage while driving?

These signs are all well and good 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 the 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.

tyre-cut-on-sidewall

An example of tyre damage and cuts to the sidewall

If your 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 Yoo do if You suspect operational damage on a tyre?

If you suspect your tyre has encountered some form of operational damage, you should seek to remove the tyre from your vehicle, 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 reliably control your car.

tyre-damage-done-by-low-pressure

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