How Long Will Tires Last with Cords Showing?

Published: 05/17/22 •  7 min read

Got steel wires sticking out of your tire? Well, that may be the last straw for the tire and an indication to remove it from your car. Tires with cords showing are no longer safe to drive on. Regular usage of such tires invites nothing but danger your way.

Tires with cords showing are basically useless to you anymore. You should not drive them for more than 80-100 miles and that too at slow speeds as they can blow out any time due to their inability to disperse heat. You must change the tires as soon as possible or get a spare one installed to get you through the day.

The only wise move is to go to a nearby auto-shop and get the tire replaced. Instead of using the exposed tires to drive to a nearby auto shop, you’re better off putting on a spare that is manufactured for exactly these purposes, but if you have no other options, the safe driving distance with these tires is only what gets you to a repair shop.

How long can you drive on tires with cords showing?

You should not drive longer than 80-100 miles on tires with cords showing because they offer poor handling and traction on road. Furthermore, they run the risk of getting burst due to the inability of the tires to dissipate heat. Hence, it is advisable to use a spare tire otherwise it can be dangerous for you or other drivers on road.

As alluded to earlier, there is no ‘safe distance’ with such tires as their sidewall is severely damaged. You’re putting your and others’ lives on the road at risk when driving on such tires. You are better off putting on a spare tire. However, if you have got no other option, you should opt for driving in the slow lane with reduced speeds and driving no more than 90 miles.

Realistically, you should only use them to get to the nearest repair shop if you don’t have the option of putting on a spare.

Is it safe to drive on tires with cords showing?

It is not safe to drive on tires with cords showing as they no longer provide proper handling and traction in any sort of weather on the road resulting in the driver losing control of the car which is the most catastrophic situation any driver can have misfortune of experiencing.

Continued usage of these tires puts you and other drivers on the road in harm’s way. Steel cords form the belt system of your tire that is designed to provide strength, stability, and rigidity to the tread area. In addition, they contribute towards the handling, traction, and overall control of the tire.

Why is my tire showing cords?

The steel belt of the tire gets exposed when the tread is excessively worn out. The excessive wear of the tire may occur due to a number of factors and result in different wear patterns which are discussed below.

Prolonged Usage

It wouldn’t come as a surprise that no product lasts forever. They have a lifetime associated with them and tires are no exception. The tread of the tire wears overtime. Tires are expected to last for about 5-6 years or generally to about 50,000 miles.

Of course, there are various factors that need to be analyzed when talking about the life of the tire such as the manufacturer, the quality of the tire, the condition, the tread depth, the material… etc., but a thumb rule is that they should be examined after 4-5 years to determine if they are in a healthy condition.

If they still have adequate tread depth and no visible damage, they can last for years to come but they should be absolutely scrapped after 10 years as the rubber starts to deteriorate after a decade. That is why most manufacturers recommend 7 years as a good deadline for replacing the tire.

Alignment Issues

Improper balancing and alignment of a tire can result in a variety of different types of wear.

Camber wear

Camber refers to the tilt of the tires as viewed from the front. If the tire tilts inwards as it is being driven, it is known as negative camber, otherwise, a positive camber if tilts outwards.

Depending on the type of camber, it causes the tire to wear at one edge that can result in cords showing from that particular edge.

_content -->

Toe wear

If the toe angle is off, it can cause the tire to slide instead of a roll as it’s being driven.

The resulting pattern is quite similar to camber wear but the difference being that camber wear is smooth on both sides as you run your fingers across the tire in both directions, but toe wear is smooth in one direction but rough in the other.

Inadequate tire pressure

Frequent Overinflation

Overinflation causes your tire to become stiffer and harder than normal and forces your car’s weight to be run on the center of the tire as opposed to being evenly distributed. This causes the center region of the tread to wear out faster than the edges resulting in an uneven center-wear pattern.

It also reduces the contact patch with the road i.e., the road makes minimal contact with the road which results in poor traction and compromised handling, and reduced fuel economy as they have high rolling resistance.

Frequent underinflation

Underinflation puts more strain on the edges of the tire as the sidewall edges are now in maximum contact with the road. This causes the tire to be pushed in the middle which wears the outside edges of the tire faster than the center.

The resulting wear pattern is known as outer edge wear. The repercussions of such wear are almost identical to the center-wear pattern in that they result in reduced fuel economy and poor handling.

Such tire wear problems are relatively easy to fix. All you need to do is regularly check your tire pressure and make sure it is according to the recommended air pressure of your tire.

Will tires pop if they are showing cords?

Tires that show cords are at an increased risk of popping than regular tires. Due to excessive tread wear, they are not able to disperse the heat building up due to friction as the tire is being driven on the road.

This means that they can pop any second without warning resulting in immediate loss of control over the vehicle which can prove to be a deadly scenario.

How to fix a tire with wires showing?

You should not bother repairing a tire that is worn out to the extent that the threads of the inner steel belt of the tire’s construction are visible to the naked eye. It is a huge safety risk and, in many states, simply illegal to repair such a tire.

So even if safety wasn’t already a big of an incentive, facing prosecution and fine for being caught with tires showing cords is one that pressurizes many of the drivers to scrap the tire.


If the condition of the tire reaches a point that the cords are visible at the surface, most probably this spells the end of the tire. It should no longer be put into use.

However, if your tires are in a good condition, make sure that they don’t reach such a point in their lifespan. Regularly check the pressure of the tire and resolve the car balancing and alignment issues as soon as they are diagnosed.