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Tire - small flap of rubber danger?

A few months back I was behind a car that stopped too short in front of me and I was forced to swerve to the side of the road to prevent an accident; good call, right?

Well, one tire blew out and the other scraped against the curb. The blow-out was replaced immediately that afternoon, but I left the scraped one as is. There is a small flap of rubber that has hung off the tire since the incident.

I’ll try to give more info but I’m not a car-person. The flap is diamond-shaped and about 3 inches long, 2 wide, and about 1/2 thick. If you were to look at a tire flat against the ground from a bird’s eye view you’d see the circle of the hub, the inner black circle of the tire, and the outer black circle, right? The flap is midway between those two black circles.

I’ve driven on the tire for a few months and it was taken into a jiffy lube (oil change and tire rotation) but no one said anything. I’ve been thinking that it isn’t a big issue as I’ve been driving and there’s been no problem; and if there was a problem the jiffy lube people would have said something, right?

The issue of my rubber flap came up with my wife recently and I’m trying to put the matter to rest. Can anyone tell me if it’s serious or not? Thanks!

If I am interpreting your “bird’s eye” description correctly, it sounds like the “flap” of loose rubber is on the sidewall of the tire. If I am correct, PLEASE drive directly (and slowly) to a tire shop to have this unsafe tire replaced.

While small punctures in the tread area of a tire can usually be repaired, any kind of cut, puncture, separation of rubber, or any other abnormality in a tire’s sidewall cannot be safely repaired. Since this part of the tire flexes each time that the tire rotates, there is an incredible amount of stress on the tire’s cords in that area and anything that changes the original structure of the sidewall is a blowout waiting to happen. If that blowout occurs at high speed (which is when they usually occur), it will likely cause you to lose control of the vehicle and have a serious accident.

As to, “if there was a problem the jiffy lube people would have said something, right?”…all I can say is…Wow, are you wrong!

The kids at Jiffy Lube barely know how to do what they are supposed to do, namely change fluids, without damaging your engine, or transmission, or differential, or cooling system, or brake hydraulic system. They are NOT mechanics and are not capable of diagnosing anything. If they sold tires, they might glance at your tires and try to make money from selling you new rubber, but since they do not sell tires, they have ZERO interest in your tires.

On this site, we get posts regularly from people whose cars have suffered major mechanical damage from being serviced at Jiffy Lube or its clones. For the sake of your vehicle overall, I urge you to start taking your Toyota to an independent mechanic, where there are people with actual mechanical expertise.

You have been unusually lucky with this damaged tire for a few months, but your luck will run out.
Please have it replaced today before you kill yourself or other people.

ditto VDC

A blowout timebomb…

A few months back I was behind a car that stopped too short in front of me and I was forced to swerve to the side of the road to prevent an accident; good call, right?

There is no such thing as “stopping too short.” The “good call” would have been to not tailgate the car in front of you. A car should be able to stop as short as the car is able to stop. If you have to swerve to the side to prevent a collision (notice I didn’t call it an accident), you were following too closely.

The reason I refuse to refer to this mishap as an accident is that accidents are random events that happen to us. Your decision to follow another car too closely was not accidental in any way.

Jiffy Lube doesn’t sell tires, so they don’t check your tires. They only check items they can sell you.

You need to replace this tire ASAP.

Sidewall damage = discard, period.

I’ll play the other hand…Lift the “flap” and see if you can see ANY cord structure of the tire exposed. Or is the “flap” just a loose piece of rubber? If it’s just rubber, no cords visible, cut the flap off with a sharp knife, inspect it again, and drive on. But if you have ANY doubt as to cord damage, replace the tire…

If he follows this very questionable advice, he is potentially endangering the lives of others over the paltry price of a new tire.

If I am wrong, then the OP may wind up spending $80 or $90 needlessly.
If Caddyman is wrong, people could die.

Would YOU want to be anywhere near this vehicle when that tire inevitably blows out at high speed?





If the cords have not been exposed or damaged, the tires structural integrity has not been compromised…The damage is cosmetic. If the cord structure is visible, the tire is scrap.

I’ve got to agree with VDC and Whitey. Replace the tire and follow the 3 second rule. A tire with a 1/2" chunk of rubber off the sidewall has a weak spot that will be susceptible to blowing out and not safe. If you allow 3 seconds between you and the car ahead of you, it is almost always enough room to stop. Even better is 5 car lengths on the freeway. It is interesting how smooth and fast traffic can flow without the catepiller effect if space is allowed between each car. Otherwise its speed up, slow down, speed up, slow down.

It’s always good to avoid paying for a stopped car and your own. If you think you have problems now…

Any sidewall damage means a junk tire. Even a small crack in the sidewall has the potential of instantly becoming a large gash followed a second later by a blow out.

Don’t even drive this car at high speed and I agree with the tick, tick, tick comment.

If the cords have not been exposed or damaged, the tires structural integrity has not been compromised…The damage is cosmetic.

I would not agree. That rubber is not there for looks. In part it provides protection from hitting curbs, it also contributes to the overall strength of the sidewall. I would also suggest that while you may not see the cords, they may have been damaged. Tyres are not so expensive that it is worth cheaping out.

In addition there is the question of mismatched tyres. It is important to have tyres closely matched from side to side and it is important to have the best two tyres on the back wheels to give the best emergency handling when you need it most.

I strongly suggest the OP avoid any of those quick lube places.  We see far too many problems created by them.  They all have the same problem.  Their business models all mean having cheap labor (usually under trained) not allowing the staff enough time to do the job right, pushing products and services that have high profit and little or no customer value.  In the long run it will be cheaper to use a real shop.

There is a small flap of rubber … diamond-shaped and about 3 inches long, 2 wide, and about 1/2 thick.

I’d be inclined to agree with Caddyman … except … 320.5 inches isn’t my idea of small. That’s an awfully big chunk of rubber to be missing from a tire. Small is a half inch by a quarter of an inch and maybe a sixteenth of an inch thick.

If you are dead set against replacing the tire and happen to have a full size spare tire (a rarity nowadays), I’d put the spare on in place of the affected tire, and treat the tire with the missing rubber as if it were a limited duty spare tire. That is to say – if you have to use it, drive slowly, carefully, and not too far. It appears to be reliable enough for that sort of usage. I’d also check the pressure in that tire from time to time. There is nothing like a flat spare tire to cap an already rotten day.

If you are absolutely adamant about driving on that tire (a dubious idea IMO), I’d put it on a rear wheel if it isn’t on one already. I’m sure there are folks around here who will argue loudly and endlessly that bad rubber on the rear is worse than bad rubber on the front. But personally, if I had to drive on a tire that was a blow out risk – as that one would seem to be – I’d want it on a non-steering wheel.

Tires like the ones on your vehicle are a maximum of 5/8" thick in the sidewall and is likely much thinner near the center of the sidewall. A 1/2" gouge would be very alarming if that is an accurate assessment of the depth of the gouge. You’re not a fishing person, are you? :wink:

Congratualtion son having avoided the first accident.

You are now taunting Lady Luck, asking for a second chance to get into an accident.

Change the tire. A new tire is far cheaper than an accident. And far safer.

Truenappa; yes you need to replace this tire right away. Jiffy Lube DOES NOT SELL TIRES and don’t really care whether you live or die!! If you needed some kind of fluid, they would have sold that to you!

As others point out, this is a critical issue, and may cause a serious accident anythime.


You have apparently not returned to this thread, but if you do, I hope you will take note of the vote at this point.

Ten of us have stated emphatically that you need to replace this tire immediately.
And then there is Caddyman, who seems to feel that you can “cheap out” on this safety-related issue.

Replacing a tire—for somewhere in the neighborhood of $80-$90 dollars–is far preferable to the possible loss of life, feelings of guilt, and–yes–lawsuits when this tire blows out at high speed and causes a serious accident. Just because you have foolishly driven on this tire for a few months does not mean that it is safe.

Just as it is possible for someone to play Russian Roulette without immediately blowing his brains out does not mean that putting a loaded gun to your head, spinning the cylinder, and pulling the trigger is a safe thing to do.

At some point, the Russian Roulette player’s luck will run out, and so will yours.