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Tires allow you to drive safely in all road conditions. One common problem associated with poor tire performance is broken tire belts. Drivers often overlook broken tire belts.

This article will explore the signs and possible causes of tire belt separation. We will also examine whether this problem can be fixed through tire repair and whether a bad and broken tire belt is dangerous.

Broken Tire Belt Signs

If tire belts are broken, you’ll notice some signs while driving. You may feel vibrations, hear noises from the tires, or experience shaky steering. Also, looking at your car’s tire, you will notice bumps on the tread. Here we’ll examine them in more detail.

Tire belt showing through the tread

Vague and Shaky Steering Wheel

One of the functions of the tires is to help you steer accurately. So, when a tire belt breaks, you’ll feel a vague shaking coming up through the steering column and onto the steering wheel. 

You will face difficulty steering when the outer edge belts slide or slip from their position. You will feel that the vehicle is being pulled on one side. That is because the slipped or broken belt has created an imbalance with the tire.


Another sign of broken belts is a lot of vibration, especially at low speeds. The tires’ steel belt is designed to support the rubber tread structure. If the belt is broken or slipped from its position, the contact area becomes uneven and produces vibrations.

If you are experiencing a vibration when driving at higher speeds, the affected tires are probably the front ones. On the other hand, back tires are at fault if the vibrations are worse at low speeds. This holds especially if your car is front-wheel drive. Most cars are.

Distortion in Tire Shape

If your car is showing the signs mentioned above, then to confirm if it really is a broken belt, then you need to inspect the tires. You will notice an irregularity in the shape of the tire. There would be humps in the treads, and it will be visibly out of round.

A broken belt often leads to tire separation. Technically speaking, tire separation means the separation of the outer tread from the tire. This can cause a major accident.

Interesting further reading: Do Tires Have Wire In Them? Yes, In These Two Places

How Many Tire Belts Are In A Tire?

Most all-weather tires have two tire belts, but heavier winter tires often have four, especially larger SUV tires. Studded tires generally have two tire belts per tire too.

Commercial vehicles such as trucks and buses will have up to eight tire belts in each tire.

What Does a Bad Tire Belt Sound Like?

Apart from loose steering and vibrations, a broken belt also produces thumping and squealing sounds. 

Thumping Noise

When you hear a thumping noise while driving down the highway, it is a sign that your belt is broken. This noise is clear when moving at low speeds since there is less road noise to interfere with this sound.  

When the belt is at fault, the rubber tire touches the pavement unevenly because the belt has formed an uneven tire surface. As a result, the area after the broken belt hits the surface harder, causing the thumping sound.

Squealing Noise

Another common noise one can hear when the belts are worn out is a squealing noise from the tires. However, this noise may be a symptom of multiple other tire problems. 

But combined with other symptoms, this indicates a slipped tire belt.

How Long Can You Drive With A Broken Tire Belt?

Not long. It’s not worth the risk. Not only can the belt shred away from the tire at any time it is also dangerous to you and other road users, especially if it breaks completely at high speeds.

Even if it happens at lower speeds, you still have the inconvenience of getting it replaced on the road or towed.

Additional damage to rims and, to a lesser extent, brakes and suspension can also happen if the tire belt blows out.

Paying a mobile tire technician to visit and replace a tire with a broken belt is always advisable. It’s the safest and cheapest thing to do.

What are the Causes of a Broken Tire Belt?

There are multiple reasons why the tires could have a broken belt. Mostly, a broken belt that has become separated from the tire results from any manufacturing defect. But sometimes, it can be due to incorrect installation or tire inflation, or driving with worn-out tires.

Manufacturing Defect

Sometimes, the defect in the belt occurs when something goes wrong during the manufacturing process. Sometimes, the steel belt and tread of the tire do not seal properly to the tire casing. It is also possible that something might have gone wrong with the chemical procedure for making the tire, and layers of the tire did not bond properly.

Tire making process video – Opens in new tab.

If you have recently had new tires fitted, tire belt slippage is a result of a manufacturing fault. You should check to see if there is compensation available. You can inquire about the materials warranty from the retailer where you purchased the tire since most new tires now come with a warranty. Do this soon, as complete tire failure could happen at any time.

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Incorrect Installation

Another reason why your tire belt might have broken is incorrect fitting. Sometimes, we install the tires ourselves and don’t always get it right. Bad fitting causes the tires to wear out unevenly, which can cause steel belt breakage. This is unusual and wouldn’t be apparent for many miles.


Since the tires are the only components in contact with the road, they absorb impact when you drive over bumps or potholes. 

If the tire is over-inflated, it becomes rigid. And rigidity means it will no longer absorb the shock when driving over rough roads.

Tire Wear

Running your car with worn-out tires is dangerous; you could lose traction, or a tire may blow without warning.

Poor Road Conditions

Extreme tire wear can also cause the steel belts to contact the road, where they heat up and fail – often without warning.

Gravel roads are brutal on tire belts and cause tires to vibrate as they float over the larger pieces. This continual vibration and bumpiness mean that tire belts will fail quicker in these road conditions.

Sometimes, a sudden impact, such as hitting a pothole, can lead to the breakage of tire belts. 

Expired Tires

Tires have a date code indicating the month and year they were manufactured. After a certain time – depending on the tire manufacturer they shouldn’t be used. If they are, the rubber isn’t as supple as it was and causes additional strain on the tire belts the rubber encases.

Burnouts or Harsh Driving

Driving erratically or sliding your car can put too much strain on your tire belts. All tires are designed to withstand normal conditions but driving a car like a NASCAR driver will cause the belts to slip.

Extreme tire belt failure

Can You Repair a Broken Tire Belt?

No, tires with bad tire belts cannot be repaired.

Tire belts are added to the tires during the manufacturing process. They are embedded in between the rubber. If the tire belt fails, it cannot be repaired or fixed. Once tire separation has taken place, it cannot be reattached successfully.

Because to repair, you need to replace belts, and for that, you must complete the whole tire manufacturing process. So, the only way to fix it is to replace the damaged tire with a new one.

Is it Dangerous if a Tire Belt Breaks?

Driving with broken or slipped tire belts is very dangerous. 

A broken belt is a symptom that any time the tire can fail. The bad belts can often result in a tire blowout or tire separation. In either case, this can cause a major accident. So, whenever you witness signs that indicate the tire belts are at fault, you need to replace the tire with the spare one immediately.

What Other Parts Can Fail If You Have A Broken Tire Belt?

A tire with broken tire belts will be out of round and affect other car parts, including:

Suspension ball joints, your car’s struts or shocks, shaking rack damage, wear and tear on wheel bearings, and premature wearing on pads and rotors.


Broken tire belts are dangerous. The separation from the tread is normally a result of a fault in the manufacturing process. 

If you experience steering wheel shakes or vibration and the tire appears out of round, the steel belt could be at fault. A thumping noise is another sign that the belt may have separated from the tread.

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