Tire Maintenance & Safety

Bald Tires

Last updated 11/08/2022 - Originally published 11/08/2022
Written by SimpleTire

Tires are the vehicle’s only point of contact with the road and it’s the tire tread that provides enough traction for smooth and safe rolling. With the increasing number of miles, the tread of the tire wears down and, ultimately, with no or minimal tread left, bald tires may bring along certain risks. Bald or shaved tires are risk prone primarily due to two main reasons:

  1. They are vulnerable to punctures
  2. They lack adequate tread depth to channel water or build traction

In this tire maintenance blog, you’ll learn:

  • What are the causes of bald tires?
  • How are bald tires compared to good tires?
  • What are the dangers of driving on bald tires?
  • When to replace the tires?

Unevenly worn tires side by side

Causes of bald tires

There could be various reasons why a tire may go bald. So, knowing all of them is very important for any car owner to know the probable causes of bald tires in hopes of preventing issues in the future.

Misaligned and unbalanced tires

Unbalanced wheels are likely to add weight to certain parts of the tires, which limits their even-wearing capability. This, if ignored, can lead to balding tires. Similarly, misaligned wheels may deteriorate the vehicle’s handling, rolling, and traction ability, and might lead to uneven wear or leave tires with no tread.

Incorrect tire pressure

Driving on under-inflated or over-inflated tires can cause a lot more stress on the tire, leading to uneven tread wear that may ultimately lead to balding tires.


Very similar to what happens in the case of a tire with incorrect tire pressure, a tire that carries increased load than its actual capacity may wear out unevenly and even overheat, putting the vehicle at a higher risk.

Lack of tire maintenance and vehicle upkeep

Negligence in vehicle upkeep and lack of tire maintenance might run your vehicle into situations like worn out, unaligned, unbalanced, or underinflated tires, resulting in driving on shaved tires.

Poor driving habits or styles

Poor driving habits or styles could be another threat to tires. Things like drifting, burnouts, speedy acceleration, sudden brakings, and so on are likely to shave the tires terribly.

Driving conditions

If a tire is driven on conditions like rough roads such as gravel tracks and dirt roads, its tread is likely to wear down faster than normal and eventually become bald.

Bald tires versus good tires

A good tire comes with a thick tread that allows it to easily navigate on the road, pass through challenging terrains, and maintain superior grip and traction. There are deep grooves on the tread of a tire that allows it to effectively evacuate water and reduce the risk of hydroplaning.

In the case of bald tires, the tread wears down to the base of the rubber and overall, the tire starts appearing very smooth from the tread area. These tires with no treads lose their traction capability as the tire is not able to bite the surface to build a better friction force. Furthermore, these shaved tires are not able to provide road grip and are even susceptible to punctures and hydroplaning.

Dangers of driving on bald tires

There is no doubt that driving on bald tires is dangerous and is also one of the biggest reasons for accidents and injuries across the globe. Shaved tires can cause severe damage to a vehicle, or worse. With that in mind, it is better to know the dangers associated with driving on bald tires and most importantly, replace the tires if needed.


The grooves on the tire are responsible for effective water channeling and reduces the risk of hydroplaning, ensuring improved grip and greater control on wet surfaces. As a bald tire doesn’t have any tread or grooves on its surface, it loses its water dispersion ability, and the chances of hydroplaning are increased when it runs on wet roads. In addition, a vehicle with shaved tires may lose its control in wet conditions.

Increased risk of punctures

As a bald tire gets thinner, it gets more prone to being punctured by random things on the road. Delays in getting bald tires replaced will keep adding to your maintenance expenses and in the worst scenarios objects like nails, small pieces of glass, trash, etc. may lead to sudden blowouts and loss of vehicle control.

#Lack of ability to navigate in snow

Tread patterns have small cuts called “sipes” that are designed to provide grip in conditions like snow. When a tire gets bald, these sipes also wear out with the tread, decreasing the tire’s ability to navigate, stop, or maintain a grip on snow.

Increased stopping distance

The stopping distance of bald tires increases significantly, no matter if it’s a sunny day, raining, or snowing. In a situation where a driver has to apply emergency brakes, there is a higher risk of collision as the stopping distance when driving on a set of bald tires is increased by a huge margin.

Air leakage

Bald tires lose air pressure more quickly as compared to normal tires, which increases not only the cost of vehicle ownership due to air filling but also keeps the vehicle in danger because of losing control.

Increased risk of tire burst

Bald tires are also prone to tire blowouts because the heat builds up more quickly. The tread of normal tires creates spaces for air to easily pass through, whereas tires with no tread will feature a heat build-up that increases the chances of the tire bursting. A heated tire is prone to blowout and may lead to loss of vehicle control, resulting in a serious collision.

Tire being rolled against an orange background

When to replace tire tread depth

It is always good to regularly check the condition of the tires and replace the bald tires at the earliest possible time. Unfortunately, most people are not aware of when their tires go bald. In the case of bald tires, it is good not to procrastinate the replacement and as soon as the tread depth of a car tire is 2/32 of an inch deep or lower, it is at the alarming “bald” state. However, if the tread depth comes at 4/32 of an inch level, the tire enters the danger zone and must be replaced.

Oftentimes, people buy a tread depth tool to measure the tread depth of the tire but the layman’s way to check for the right time to replace a tire is by doing a penny test. Place the penny upside down in the tread and if the top of Lincoln’s head is visible, it’s time to buy a new tire. If the head is covered in the tread, there’s some life left and the tire can be used.

Alternatively, tread depth bars or indicators can also help you figure out if the tires are bald and need to be replaced or not. If the tread level comes at par with the tread depth bars, a tire is considered bald and must be swapped with a new one.

It’s always good to replace the tires well in advance and don’t wait for the tread to go bald.

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