What wrecked this tire?

My next door neighbor is disabled and doesn’t drive any more. Her Volvo wagon lives in her driveway/carport for weeks and months at a time unless somebody borrows it. A couple of weeks ago it was gone for a few days, then came back.

This morning I noticed that her right front tire was flat, and I alerted her . If the tire had been flat earlier, I’m pretty sure I would have noticed. The neighbor invoked her Roadside Assistance coverage, and they came and changed the tire.

They provided her with pic #1, which she sent to me. The damage is astounding. In the larger gash, pic #2, I can put my finger clear through into the interior of the tire. In both gashes I can see severed steel cords.

I think it’s clear that the tire was not like that when returned by the most recent driver (but who knows???). It seems to me also that we can eliminate slow-leaking damage by the most recent driver. And I can’t imagine what kind of tool a vandal would need to make those gashes, cutting all the way through the steel cord.

Do you experts have any ideas?

How old are they?

@CapriRacer - what do you think?

That’s called tread separation.

This occurs when the tread separates from the tire casing.

This can be caused by a manufacturing defect.


Texases – Probably more like 10 to 15 years old than 5 to 10, but I’m not sure. Maybe she had new tires put on some time. I’ll see if I can find date codes on the tire.

Tester – Your pic is more astounding than mine, but I think my neighbor’s tire was sitting still when it failed. Could tread separation do that?

if the tire is old, yes.

if look look at the tire, tread has been blown outwards

Meaning a complete failure of the tire.

Here’s how to date a tire.



To me, it looks like impact damage. Tread separation is unlikely on modern tires.

1 Like


They wouldn’t be retreads, would they? Is ozone high there?

My first thought was old tires.

Good question. I don’t think it looks like something a vandal would do though-too much damage. Seems to me if something was hit in the road, with that much damage, it would be hard to drive it back unless it was driven flat. So maybe it was a tire failure and made it back and then went flat. No question though the result is the same-new tire(s).

Need to interrogate the last person to drive the car to see if they will 'fess up and admit to maybe hitting something. I would think if some type of road debris did this there should be some marks on the inner fender, suspension components, etc.

If someone hit something and even if the tire did not go flat I don’t see anyway in the world that tire would not be bumping and thumping all the way to the house.

Looks like ply/tread failure of an aging tire. If the tire had failed due to impact damage the sidewall would show signs of drive flat damage.


Would over-inflating it have blown it like this?

Tester is right. That is a tread separation.

Cause? Tire too old, underinflated, impact damage (There’s a divot out of the sidewall in Photo #1.)

We need more information to narrow this down!


Regardless of what killed that tire, if you suspect the other three tires are 10-15 years old, you need to figure out a way to convince her to either get a new set of tires or get rid of the car. Yeah, she doesn’t drive anymore, but if someone else is driving it and they blow, and it causes a wreck that hurts someone, she could still get sued for it.


Thank you, all, for the info and advice. I’ll pass it along to my neighbor (especially the suggestion that she might be liable if a person using the the car with permission causes damage).

I got a chance to take some more snapshots of the tire. Pic’s 4, 5, 6 show the various markings. Pic 4 is the only thing I saw that looked like it might be a date code (looks to me more like a serial number). After I downloaded the pic’s I saw the tiny numbers in Pic 7 – maybe “13601”. Can anybody figure out a date from all that?

Pics 7, 8, 9 just show more of the damage to the outer sidewall. Definitely abused.

That would mean the tire was manufactured on the 36th week of 2001.


36th week of 2001 ?!?! Wow. I’ll try to take a closer look when I take her trash out this evening.

I’d have to look it up again but I’m pretty sure the DOT number is the plant code where it was made. No raised numbers would be the date since the molds would contain the raised numbers and the depressed numbers would be the changeable insert in the mold. (From my time in the rubber department anyway.)