There are a variety of failure modes for automobile tires, such as bead failure, impact failures, defective manufacturer, improper installation, wear out, and under-inflation. The failure mode from under-inflation can be a result of tire penetration by a foreign object.

Figure 1 is a drawing of a typical automotive tire. Foreign object penetration typically occurs in the crown area of the tire, through the tread. However, it is not unheard of to discover a foreign object lodged in the upper sidewall or shoulder area. The penetrating object may cause under-inflation of the tire, but not always. If the penetrating object self seals, little or no air may escape from the tire. If air does escape such that the tire operates under-inflated, then failures can occur at the highly stressed areas as a result of over-flex of the rubber.

Figure 2 is a view of a Phillips head screw embedded in the tread of an automobile tire. Initially, this screw became partially engaged in the tire and was not perpendicular to the tread, as indicated by the oval-shaped deformation to the head. Eventually it worked its way into the tire, causing penetration and providing a path for air leakage. Approximately 20 percent of the tread remained on this tire, facilitating the penetration of the screw. Rubber dust inside the tire confirmed that the tire had operated for a period of time under-inflated and eventually failed.

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