Signs & Symptoms of a Slipped Radial Tire Belt

by Kimberly Turtenwald
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Safe and reliable tires on your vehicle provide you with stability on the road and the ability to change direction. If there is a problem with your tires, driving your vehicle can become dangerous and put you at risk of an accident. Radial tires are made up of belts of rubber material, sometimes enhanced with bands of steel. These belts can slip and cause issues with your driving.


One of the primary functions of your tires is to help you steer the vehicle. The belts of the tire, especially the ones on the outsides of the tire, provide stability for the vehicle and allow it to turn as you instruct through the steering wheel. When the belts on the tire begin to slip, particularly the ones on the outer edges, you may find your vehicle is more difficult to steer. Your vehicle may adopt a tendency to pull one way or the other while the steering wheel remains straight. This can mimic the symptoms of a misaligned front-end.


If the belts in your tires begin to slip, the wheels may be thrown out of balance. When tires are mounted on a vehicle, they are often balanced using metal weights to ensure that they roll without vibrating or wobbling. Despite the placement of these weights, a tire that has slipping belts may begin to vibrate. While this vibration does not have an impact on your ability to drive your vehicle, you can usually feel the vibration through your steering wheel. This sign is most significant at low speeds from 5 to 30 miles an hour and higher speeds from 50 to 70 miles an hour.

Sidewall Inspection

The belts in a radial tire extend across the entire tire from one side to the other. One purpose of these belts is to enhance the strength of the sidewall. When the belts begin to slip and pull apart, the sidewall weakens. This can cause the sidewalls to crack and visibly separate. You may also notice bulges in the side of the tire where it has more difficulty holding its shape. Larger tears may also occur in the sidewall.

Tread Inspection

In addition to checking the sidewalls of your tires, you should frequently inspect the treads to identify a potential problem. Check the tire for signs of cracking or separation in the treads. Look for signs of the steel threads showing through if you have steel-enforced radial tires. Monitor the treads for uneven wear. If a belt slips, it will create an odd shape to the tire that results in uneven wear based on the location of the slipped belt.

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