The Dangers of Worn and Poorly Maintained Tires

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that nine percent of passenger vehicles are driven with at least one bald tire. The dangers of worn and under-inflated tires are often overlooked by car and commercial vehicle owners, increasing the risk of accidents for everyone on the road. Even at the middle point of a tire’s lifespan, tread loses a significant amount of grip. This is especially dangerous when poor road conditions and bad weather are involved, contributing to braking and steering difficulty that may result in collisions. Drivers with poorly maintained, unsafe tires may be held liable in a vehicle crash.


A tire’s grooves help them grip the road. The tread on new tires is approximately 10/32 of an inch deep. Manufacturers create a series of molded horizontal bars at the base of these grooves so that regular maintenance checks can determine how far the tread has worn down. Professionals in the auto industry typically consider tires to be bald when the grooves reach 2/32 of an inch. At this point, a tire will fail safety inspections. However, the tire’s ability to grip the road can become dangerously low before it hits the 2/32 mark. This increases the risk of an accident, particularly in conditions of icy, snowy, or wet roads. In addition to tread depth, the Rubber Manufacturers Association states that determining the expiration of a tire is difficult, as factors including heat and storage affect the aging of the rubber.

Heat Build-Up

When exposed to heat, air has difficulty circulating through the rubber, causing the tire’s pressure to increase. The summertime temperature of pavement and the heat created by friction from high speeds, excessive cornering, and frequent braking can increase the risk for hazardous tire blowouts. Under-inflation and age add to this risk. Even with the best maintenance and driving practices, worn tire treads are extremely dangerous. Sunlight and coastal climates also tend to age tires quickly.


It is important to consider how spare tires and seasonal tires are stored when not in use. Spare tires are commonly kept in the trunk of the vehicle for long periods of time. Considering the effect of heat on the rubber, summer temperatures can have an oven-like effect on a spare tire. Storing seasonal tires outside also exposes them to the elements. Winter tires should not be stored in sunny or moist outdoor spaces, and summer tires may age faster if stored in extreme cold and wet conditions.


Worn tires are more easily punctured than healthy, thick-treaded tires. This makes them more susceptible to air leaks, which affect steering and breaking control. Pieces of glass, metal, or any kind of debris have a higher risk of causing a dangerous, unexpected blowout. Previously patched punctures add to the aging of a tire as well.


Hydroplaning is caused by a lack of traction in the presence of standing water. Deeper treads can break through the standing water more safely, while worn tires act more like water skis. This can happen extremely quickly and often causes the driver to lose complete control of the vehicle.

Altman & Altman, LLP – Dedicated Personal Injury Lawyers

Worn tires can cause accidents ranging from simple fender benders to catastrophic highway pile-ups. If you believe you were injured in an accident due to another driver’s negligent maintenance, you may be compensated for your injuries and damages. Altman & Altman, LLP is dedicated to helping injury victims protect their legal rights. With over 40 years of experience in the greater Boston area, and across Massachusetts, our experienced attorneys will work tirelessly to evaluate your case and position you for the best possible outcome. Contact Altman & Altman, LLP today for a free consultation.

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