Ideas On How My Wife Picked Up a Nail In The Sidewall

I took my wife’s car (2017 Ford Edge) in for an inspection a few weeks ago and it immediately failed because it had a nail in the sidewall. It was on the rear driver’s side about 1/2 inch up the sidewall. It was a small paneling nail painted white, but long enough to render the tire unrepairable. Any ideas what could have happened? I really have no idea.

One a side note, this is the 4th new tire on this car from damage to tires,

  • Bubble on right front at about 12000 miles.
  • Torn sidewall from driving through some construction. Also right front but after rotation.
  • Torn sidewall on right front with no good explanation. I suspect the Ford dealer since we had just gotten it back after a recall.
  • This one (but white)

Probably kicked up by the front tire, hit just right by the rear.


Texases is correct…
Most of the time when you see something odd in a tire it is on the rear, the front tire runs over the object kicking it up and the back tire catches it… Also the right rear tire is the most damaged tire normally due to the right side being the closest to the edge of the road and if it doesn’t stick in the front tire, the front tire kicks it up and the rear tire gets it…
You are also more likely to pick up an object after or during a rain because the water washes objects from the shoulder…

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I dunno but over 50 years ago as a student worker in the truck plant, I came out to drive home for lunch and there was about a ten penny nail in my vw tire. Sticking right out the side on the right rear. It looked to me like sabotage but who knows. There was one guy that didn’t think I drove out of the gravel lot fast enough. He’s probably dead now though. It held air yet so I just drove home, had lunch, and put the spare on. I’m sure I ordered another used one from sears for about $15.

I can’t say for sure where the construction screw was that I picked up in southern Illinois. When I stopped to put more air in the tire in order to make it to a tire repair place, I didn’t see anything in the tire. Like a 2 1/2 inch screw according to the tire guy. They fixed it though so must have been in the tread. I bought new tires shortly afterward though. I don’t like patched tires.

All kinds of stuff ends up in tires though. One day our van driver at work pulled in an he had a pair of scissors stuck in the outside dual wheel, on the side. Had to have a truck come and put a new tire on in the parking lot. Driver just shrugged when questioned. Don’t know why he would have done that to his own truck. And why would someone give up a perfectly good pair of scissors? They are not cheap anymore.

I would first ask, did the nail penetrate the tire into the air chamber or did it just graze the sideway and was stuck in the rubber (like a splinter…)? Was it leaking air? If it was leaking air, sideway patches are not an option…

If it was not leaking air, I would have pulled the nail, taken the inspection failure and gotten it inspected elsewhere…

But back to your initial question and all any of us can do is speculate on how this happened…


I would guess that the most possible excuse for this would be that it was in a scrape of paneling that had fallen onto the road (nail point up). It probably dropped off a construction trailer on the way to the dump.

If the vehicle was traveling straight, perhaps the front tire nicked the nail and it moved just enough to get caught by the rear tire and since it was now imbedded in the tire, the nail just tore out of the old scrape of paneling.

Since you did not write which side tire, I would venture this possibility also… The scrape of paneling was on the roadway in a curve and the vehicle drove over it and since the rear tire on the outside of the turn tracks slightly inside the turn, the outside front tire missed the nail completely and the rear tire caught it…

I’ve never experienced a nail in a tire’s sidewall myself. But w/nails, I suppose it is possible. I find nails, screws, staples, & other potentially tire-damaging objects in the road all the time when riding my bicycle or walking. I’ve recently been watching this tv show called “America’s Truck Night”, or something like that. Pickup trucks, Jeeps doing all sorts of challenging stuff. Rock crawling, pulling heavy loads up steep hills, high water, mud, etc. One of the challenges is to drive the truck over a pile of junked cars. Tires do ok on the rest, but pretty common occurrence for the truck get a flat there.

No. That was my first thought. So I pulled it out and immediately it started leaking. I pushed it back in till I could get to the tire shop.

Actually I did. Driver’s side rear. That has been the only time I’ve had a failure on that side.

My wife has you beat. Hex head is in tire.

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Was the tire pressure low enough that a bulge formed in the sidewall? If that is the case then the nail may have been picked up during a turn.

Also, I suggest that your wife stop traveling where there is a lot of debris on the road. I used to work in an industrial complex. Our buildings were spread along two roads separated by another short stretch of road. A scrap processor was located on the corner of a road we turned on to get into two of our facilities. We all used to pick up scrap nails that fell off the trucks delivering scrap metal. Eventually none of us drove past the scrap processor. We all went into the back of the complex to get to the facilities next to the scrap place. That way we never had to drive past it. Most of the time I walked. If I had to drive I went out of the industrial facility, down to road to a traffic light, turned left, went about a mile to the second traffic light, then turned into the complex again and drove the back way in. Yes, tire damage was that frequent.

Colorado in winter, the less often used portions of the parking lots would have lots of really sharp icicles-like-things, frozen solid slush, pointing up. I always wondered why I never heard of anyone getting a flat from driving over those. Yet another car mystery I guess.

The most fearful thing in the neighborhood is when someone is getting a new roof.


You are right, you included that information, I missed it.

To better clarify my theory that the nail might have been picked up while driving the vehicle down the road on a curve, even a slight curve, the tires do not track in the same path. If the turn was sharp enough, the vehicle could even have picked up the nail on the outside wall…

When you wrote that the tire was leaking when you pulled the nail and you pushed it back in to stop/slow the leak, it reminded me of a Comedy Western TV Program I watched a long time ago when someone had been stabbed with a knife and the the “Hero” pulled the knife out and the bystanders said you are not suppose take the knife out, so the Hero shoved it back in…

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As someone that has seen house keys, complete Needlenose pliers (handle end went through the tread of a brand new P metric truck tire), complete wheel caster from office chair, very large diesel glow plug, razorblades, bungee cord end hook, just about any tool in a tool box, AA Duracell copper top batter (the air pressure blew the center out), and many many many more odd things stuck in tires over the 30+ years and 17 years seeing an average of 10-20 flat tires a day, about half of which on repairable (normal nails and screws etc being the repairable ones) tires being not repairable due to being too close to the sidewall or in the sidewall…

Don’t over think it, you picked up a nail, very normal and common in the tire world… lol

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I found an engine valve laying in the middle of a neighborhood road one time , always wondered how it got there?

Yeah I ran over the hook on a bungee cord one morning. Then I found out olds shorted me the base for the bumper Jack. Made it work anyway and the dealer said they were sorry. Another thing to check on a new car.

Or used vehicle, a lot of times people keep the jacks and or spare tires, or use the spare tire up and it is unsafe to drive on…

Heh heh. I can imagine the Jack guy was out sick that day, or the “move man” responsible for keeping the bin filled was busy.

So you are saying I shouldn’t have accused the driver of sticking a pair of scissors in his tire on purpose? I’m a little ashamed.

I picked up a roofing nail in the sidewall. The night before a 500 road trip of course. Put the spare on, made the drive. Asphalt shingle recycling place nearby, think it must have come off a roofers truck. No foul play suspected, stuff happens. Only 1k miles on the tires, so new one was just fine for 4wd tolerences.

With all my newer cars over the years that used scissors jacks, I always take out the jacks in the beginning and made sure I know how to use them. At night, in the rain, on the side of the road, is not a time to learn how they work… As a side note although, whenever I have the tires rotated, I always check to make sure the lug nuts are not too tight or too loose…

But thinking back to why I check on the jack usage goes back to two instances from years gone by, the 1960’s… Remember the old style bumper jacks; they fastened onto the bumper and then you ratcheted the tire iron up and down to lift the car. Bing mentioned that he once got a jack without a base… This was not my problem, but how the jack fastened onto the bumper.

Most jacks had abracket with a profile that was the shape of the bumper with a lip that grabbed the bottom of the bumper. However, there were also some that had a notch that hooked into a slot in the bumper. I was in a friend’s car when he got a flat and he had a jack, but it was the type of jack with the hook, but his bumper did not have the notch for the hook to fit into. Another time, same friend, he had gotten another jack, and this one had the bracket, but not for his bumper and the notch on the bottom would not grab the bottom of the bumper.

Since this was the second time his Dad had to come bail us out, his Dad bought him a bumper jack that actually fit his bumper…