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Tire ply separation?

09 civic. 5500mi. Auto trans. How can I discern whether my tires are starting to separate ply’s or if it is something in the front drivetrain?

When I’ve driven for a few miles I start to hear what sounds like running over rumble strips constantly without the vibration. Above 20mph up to highway speed. It’s from the front. I have to drive 300+miles to Atlanta often and don’t want to have a blowout going thru town.

On the other hand, I don’t want to replace my tires at 5k miles either. I looked but the tires ‘look’ ok? and are inflated per stamp on door theshold. Thanks.

Your tires are covered under a separate tire manufacturer workmanship warranty. Go to a tire dealer who is an approved retailer for the brand on your car explain your concerns and see if they can’t inspect the tires. If the plies have separated, this is a warranty issue that would be covered under the tire warranty. It is usually pro-rated, so if the retailer agrees there is an issue, tire replacement should not be too expensive since you would pay 10-15% of the retail cost of the tire, and possibly less, depending on how the retailer does his tread depth measurements.

Other issues worth exploring is balancing the tires. New cars are somewhat notorious in coming off the assembly line with poorly balanced tires. This cost might be borne by you, not nececessarily a warranty issue.

If your Honda dealer also is an authorized retailer for the brand of tire on the car, he should be able to take care of both possible outcomes here, in one stop.

Is the transmission a CVT? Although I am not familiar with the CVT on Hondas, the industrial types have a similar problem when improper lubricants are used or the level is not up. And AWD torque splitters are also the cause of such noises but I’m not aware of AWD on Civics.

First, thanks for the replies.

I am going to take it on the highway for about 50 miles close to home soon to see what it does. I’m not sure of the config’s on the tranny as this is the first front wheel drive I’ve ever owned… i.e CVT or not. I do know it’s not AWD - no transfer case back there and the gas tank is in the way of any driveshaft.

I have checked the auto trans fluid and it is red and to the mark and shifts fine so the only thing I could think of was tires (??) or halfshaft/CV.

As I mentioned, I’m going for a local test drive on the highway to see if I can get something to fail before my long trip. ‘Jayhawkroy’ mentioned possible tire issues…My question is why would they fail at only 5500 miles? Did the car sit on the lot too long?

For ‘Rod Knox’, You mentioned improper lubricants in the CVT. But this is an '09 civic – nothing has been done yet except 1 oil change.

Thanks again for the replies and I will post a follow up after my test ride. Any additional ideas are welcome…

Do you have Goodbridge tires? It may be useless info but someone may know if your tires make noise normally.

Goodbridge tires?

Did Goodyear merge with Bridgestone?


It is not likely a tire issue. Separations don’t make noise - especially at 20 mph. They will cause a vibration that at slow speed might feel like a waddle, and at high speeds (50 to 70 moh) will feel like a simple vibration.

I suspect you are hearing the suspension itself.

Nevertheless, go to both the tire dealer (Do that first), then go to the vehicle dealer. You are wasting your time driving to see if something happens. You need to have an expert look at it.

Before taking this for a ride on the highway I’d suggest taking it to the shop. Just on case it’s something not obvious that’s a potential danger.

The tires would be best checked on a machine that does “road force balancing”. It’s a machine that spins the wheel with simulated road force applied to the tread via a spinning drum. That can detect internal ply seperations that regular spin balancing does not. Ask the shop if they have this capability when you call for the appointment.