All About Sidewall Bubbles

A bubble in the sidewall of a tire

One subject that we never really “tackled” in this website is the notorious sidewall bubble. They are fairly common yet a lot of people don’t know where they come from or even what they are. To start we’re going to show you a picture of a sidewall bubble:

A bubble in the sidewall of a tire

Please keep in mind that most bubbles aren’t nearly THAT bad/big but we wanted to find a clear picture. 

What are sidewall bubbles?

Besides being an obvious bulge on the side of the tire, it’s when there is an internal air leak in the tire. When air gets between the “layers” of the tire you get a bubble. 

What causes these annoying little tire killers?

The short answer here is impact. When an impact is focused on a particular area, it bends the tire and basically pinches it causing a hole. A LOT of these impacts involve curbs and potholes. Impacts don’t always cause bubbles. Sometimes they cause blowouts, some times it’s a bubble and sometimes you get lucky and nothing happens. 

I didn’t hit that pothole/curb/brick/speed bump that hard…

Here’s the thing about impact and bubbles; you don’t have to hit things hard. You make not even notice that you hit something, it might just feel like another little bump in the road. It honestly doesn’t take much to cause damage due to speed, vehicle weight and the point of contact being so small.

Can sidewall bubbles be repaired?

No. 100% of the time they are NOT repairable.  It’s not as easy as taking the tire apart, bleeding the air and then patching the hole on the inside. Simply put, when you see a sidewall bubble your tire is already toast. 

Is it dangerous?

Actually yes. When a sidewall bubble “shows up” the structure of that tire is already weakening. They can, basically, blow up at any minute. They aren’t safe at all and there isn’t any way of telling how long until your bubble “pops”.

That’s the short version. Nexen Tire explains it in a little bit more detail which you can find here.