What does it mean when there are cords showing on tires?

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If you see cords showing on tires when you inspect them, then it's lucky you caught them before they led to a huge disaster!
cords showing on tires?

As you lock more miles into your tires over time, you’ll likely be on the lookout for any red flags on your tires. One of the things you may have noticed are exposed cords through the tread.

If you can see cords showing on tires then it means they are critically worn out and need to be changed immediately. Keep reading to find out what you should do.

Those tire cords are a very important part of the tire’s internal structure and you definitely don’t want them to show. If you ever see cords exposed and showing on your tire, make sure you immediately change that tire! Let us explain why it is so dangerous.

What does it mean when there are cords showing on tires?

If you see cords showing on tires, it means that the tires have been worn excessively and far beyond their designed purpose. This means that the tire is no longer fit for purpose as its structure has been compromised and is not safe to be driven on.

It is also illegal to drive with cords showing on the tires.

As tires wear, the amount of material on the tire will begin to wear down. Once the tread has worn down, if the tire continues to be driven, it will wear down through to the different parts of the tire which is when the tire chords will begin to show.

What are tire cords? What does it mean when there are cords showing on tires?

Tire cords are reinforcement used to maintain the shape of a tire. They are made primarily of polyester and nylon but can sometimes be formed of steel.

These tire cords help maintain the stability of the tire and are an important part of keeping the drive smooth and comfortable.

What causes cords showing on tires?

The tread of your tires are designed to provide traction when you drive. But over time (and miles), this tread will start to wear away. Once the tread of the tires is worn through, it is known as balding and badly compromises your tires.

One of the things you may notice as your tire balds is that the cords in your tire begin to show. This is often a sign of uneven wear. Tires will bald over time just through clocking in miles of driving. However, there are things that will make your tires bald quicker.

Depending on what part of your tire is balding, you can work out what may be causing it.

Why do tires go bald in the middle?

If your tires seem to bald in the middle then it could be a sign that you are over inflating them. When you allow too much air pressure in your tire the center ring ends up being over exposed to the road while the rest of the tire doesn’t contact the road at all.

To ensure you don’t over inflate tires again in the future, always consult the tire’s user manual so that you can maintain the right level of pressure.

Why do tires go bald on the sides?

On the other hand, if the tire is going bald on the sides then that’s a sign that your wheel alignment is poor. Your wheels may be leaning which leads to the tire having too high a load on its sides. 

Alternatively, tires going bald on the sides could be a result of aging coil springs. As the age, both the spring coils and the vehicle as a whole will lose height and eventually become misaligned.

Is it safe to drive when there are cords showing on tires?

We absolutely recommend that you do not drive when there are cords showing on tires.

The tread is the only part of the tire that is designed to be in contact with the ground and once that has worn through the tire is simply not safe to drive on. Driving on bald tires puts you and other drivers at risk.

Here are some of the dangers of driving on bald tires:

  1. Threat of sudden blowouts
  2. Loss of air pressure
  3. Difficulty in handling adverse road and weather conditions
  4. Risk of hydroplaning
  5. Risk of heat buildup
  6. Increased stopping distances

If you notice exposed cords or any other signs of tire balding, then it’s important to address the issue ASAP.

How long can you drive on worn tires?

As mentioned before, you absolutely do not want to be driving on worn out tires. However, if your only option is to drive to the shop then you want to do so as safely as you possibly can.

Make your way directly to your nearest mechanic and avoid uneven or wet roads. The actual distance you can drive on bald tires depends on how worn the tires are but we can’t stress enough that you should not drive on those tires. It’s an accident waiting to happen.

Instead of risking a drive to the shop, your best bet is just to put on a spare and then make the drive.

Can tires with cords showing pop?

Yes.

The tread of your tire is what protects from blowouts and once that has been compromised your risk shoots through the roof! Anything from nails to sharp objects end up puncturing your exposed tires and lead to a blowout.

Similarly, the friction between your tires and the road will lead to heat that your bald tires may not be able to withstand and also lead to a potential blowout.

Can you fix a tire with cords showing?

Unfortunately, this isn’t an issue you can fix. Once the cords of the tire are showing, it means that the tire is too worn down and no fix or retreading will be adequate.

Once you are in the position, you just need to bite the bullet and replace the tire (or even the set). It’s the best thing you can do for the safety of yourself and others.

How to prevent cords showing on tires?

It’s important to be proactive when looking out for the maintenance of your tires and avoid running into problems like premature tire wear or cords showing. Making sure to have your vehicles serviced each year will allow the mechanic to point out that you need new tires before allowing cords to start showing.

Make sure you get an alignment if you notice issues like signs of tire wear or even issues like the vehicle pulling to one side. Similarly, it’s also a good idea to get an alignment every 2-3 years regardless of your car’s condition.

It’s also really important to keep an eye on the air pressure in your tires and keep them in line with your tire’s manual as both over and under inflating can lead to problems.

Finally, remember to take care when driving. I know that sounds obvious but even something as simple as taking a curve too fast can compromise the structure of your tires.

While there aren’t concrete federal guidelines when it comes to tire tread, several states do have clear guidelines on what’s allowed

For example, Florida law requires at least 1/16 of an inch of tread on all tires when driving on public roads while California requires at least 1/32 of an inch of tread.

In fact, 42 states (as well as Canada) have clear requirements on tire tread which could be violated by having cords showing on tires.

FAQ

What are some other signs of damaged tires?

There are other signs that you need to look out for to catch any signs of tire damage. This can be visual like cords or tire bubbles. Alternatively, there are other signs like wobbling when driving at low speeds or vibrations felt through the steering wheel.

How often should I rotate my tires?

Tire rotation is an important part of your basic tire maintenance and we recommend doing so every 6 months (or 7500 miles, which happens first).

How often do I need an alignment?

Typically, we recommend that you get an alignment every 2-3 years. However, it does depend on how you use your vehicle. If you tend to drive on a lot of rough ground, then it may be a good idea to get an alignment every 1-2 years.

What to do next

Seeing cords showing on your tires is never a good sign. It means that your tire’s structural integrity has been compromised and that it is no longer safe to drive. The only option you have is to get a replacement tire ASAP. 

It is also important to try and figure out why your tires have balded. It could be an issue with your tire pressure or even an alignment problem. If so, it’s worth getting an alignment or fixing your pressure now so that you aren’t stuck with the same problem again with your new tires.

If you need help figuring out what the best tires for you are, you can always check out our helpful buyer guides.

We hope you enjoyed this article and found it informative. If you have any questions then please leave a comment below or get in touch via email or through social media and we will read and respond to every comment, email or question. Thanks for reading!

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