What is a tyre cut?

A tyre cut is a type of damage to the sidewall or tread of the tyre. On close inspection, it looks like a gouge or rip in the surface of the rubber. The presence of a cut has a significant impact on tyre safety, and it doesn't occur through ordinary wear and tear. A cut in the sidewall of the tyre is especially troublesome; the sidewall is the part of the tyre that withstands pressure and keeps your car stable.

If you find a tear, nick, or bulge in the sidewall, it's typically a sign of damage to the structural integrity of the tyre, and a blowout may be imminent. Based on the severity of the impact, the resulting damage could have torn internal steel or fiber cords that would get exposed in the event of a cut.

Probable Cause(s)

The cause of a cut is usually external influences; road hazard, curbing, equipment damage, wash rack rails, pit rails, vandalism, potholes, or sharp, foreign objects like stones or glass. They may not cause instant deflation, but are still long-term consequences for the tyre.

Avoiding tyre cuts

Avoid tyre damage by not driving your car on rough or unpaved roads. And unpaved roads are unavoidable, then drive gently.

Another tip is to avoid coming into contact with kerbs. A rough scrape against a kerb or pavement when attempting to park, for example, could lead to a cut in the sidewall and long-term damage.

Laws and tyre cuts

**The inside of a tyre contains ply and cords which can become exposed if the tyre has a deep cut in the tread or sidewall.

Various countries have laws governing such damages. According to UK road law, if a tyre cut is 25mm or 10% of section width – whichever is greater – then these are grounds for instant MOT (Ministry of Transport) test failure. A cut of this size is considered deep enough to reach the ply and cords.


If you discover a cut on the tyre surface, either on the sidewall or the tread, then it's advisable to have it inspected by a skilled tyre technician for recommendations. For the sake of tyre safety it mustn't be ignored.

If in doubt, visit your local tyre dealer and have your tyre condition assessed by an expert.