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Discussion Starter #1
I went in today to have my winter tires changed back to the 19" OEM Continentals. During the process the tire guy discovered that 3 of 4 summer tires have bubbles in the side wall on the back side of the tire. They must be replaced. This car was purchased around 9/7/15 and the summer tires were changed over to winter in early November. I probably put about 2000 miles on them, of which 1200 was in one trip to Calif. The rest of the driving was around town. I did not run off any curbs, do any off-roading or otherwise abuse the tires. During Nov through now they were in my garage.

The guy at the tire shop is going to call Continental in the AM and he checked and said they should be covered fully for replacement...so I am hoping I will not be out $$...but the question remains..how could this happen?

Any thoughts or advice is appreciated.
 

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The guy at the tire shop is going to call Continental in the AM and he checked and said they should be covered fully for replacement...so I am hoping I will not be out $$...but the question remains..how could this happen?
My BMW has been using 205/50ZR17 Continental ExtremeContact DWS tires for the last 5 years. Over those 5 years I have had to replace 10 of them due to blisters (usually on the inner sidewall), cuts or blowouts all but one caused by potholes. And twice two at a time. Potholes are epic in Pennsylvania due to dramatic freeze/thaw cycles and poor maintenance budgets. All of the inner blisters were discovered at annual PA State Inspections and came as a complete surprise. I have never had any of these problems in 55 years of driving before owning a car with 50 profile tires. You are driving on 40 profile tires, yikes.

I’m going with POTHOLES!

BTW: Continental has paid for the tires (4 of them) when they were less than 1 year old.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks Bob. We do have a pot hole issue in Bend OR and we're about $60M in arrears on road maintenance. In fact we're voting now on a 5 cent gas tax to fund additional road maintenance.

But I must note that I am extremely careful in my driving around to avoid the potholes... to the point that I find myself focusing on the road right in front of the car all the time and I'm creeping around the roundabouts steering around the pot holes. I don't recall any major pothole hits during those two months - and certainly not hitting 3 out of 4 tires. Now if those tires can't handle the small dips from missing pavement (i.e. an inch or so difference) that no one can avoid, then they aren't worth much as tires... certainly not close to $300 per tire.

Even if they replace all three at no cost to me this is a major concern as this could occur every winter unless I leave the car in the garage for 4 months of the year. I'm wondering if they have put substandard tires on a high end car?

John
 

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John,
It is a real pity having to deal with potholes. You’re cruising along on a beautiful twisty back road on a sunny afternoon while you stare at the road looking for the stinking things. You glance up to look at the scenery and bam, gottcha. They also seem to hide in the shadows.
Potholes are at their peak around here in the late winter thru early summer. I didn’t mention it before, but I also have an alloy wheel with two dents on the inside rim. This condition doesn’t seem to have affected drivability. Everything considered, I would rather replace the tires than the wheels or suspension components. The tires are going to wear out sooner or later anyway. At least I don’t have to worry about driving on bald tires.
I kind of remember that you got your car thru a broker. Is it possible that the tire damage occurred before you took possession of the car? Your 3 tire problems could have been caused by 2 potholes. Based on my experiences the only way you will realize that you have blisters is by seeing them. They don’t seem to affect drivability, at least until they blow. I don’t think that you have bad quality tires. A lot of high performance tires have very thin sidewalls. Blame the popularity of huge wheels with rubber bands pretending to be tires.
Bob
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Bob, Thanks again. However since these tires were only on the car for two months and it was fall, the pothole situation was not as bad and I didn't hit any big potholes. I will inform my broker who drove the car from Portland to Bend but doubt that will generate any intel. I remain deeply concerned about the quality of these tires if this occurred with no major pothole hits...I can't be spending $1200 per year on tire replacement...
 

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Cableguy, Hopefully Conti will buy you a new set of tires....

The bubble is caused by either a defect in the tire or by an impact along the way (either way the tires innerliner is leaking). As it is appearing on 3 of the 4 I would suspect tire defect and possibly it is 4 of 4 and that last one just is not there yet. I would highly recommend that you have all 4 replaced.

Good luck and let us know how this pans out....
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks Ohio Joe. We either have a gaggle of defective tires on my car or we have a pretty worthless tire. Since these tires were swapped for winter studless snow tires (Blizzacks) before the potholes got really bad and given that I didn't hit any potholes with these tires on, there's simply no reason for this type of damage. Naturally any road surface has some variation and clearly given Bend's overall road status there are areas where the top layer of pavement is missing and you have about a 1" difference to the next layer in a small to large patch. I even try very hard to avoid any of these... I did read some comments from other car owners who felt pretty strongly that Conti's low profile tires are very prone to bubbles.... Makes one wonder why Audi chose this tire.....
 

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John, Conti should take care of you on this however if they do not you can always threaten to file a complaint with NHTSA on the tires. That should put you in a better position with the negotiations....
 

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When I was looking for replacement tires for my convertible daily driver 5 years ago I did tons of research and it seemed that a whole lot of people complained about blisters using almost any brand of 205/50ZR17 tire. As a matter of fact when I bought the car it was 8 years old with only 11,000 miles and every tire on it had at least 2 visible blisters some fairly large. Needless to say I didn’t take any high speed trips until I replaced the hardly worn Continental Contact tires that were original equipment on the car. So maybe there is something about Continental tires. Contis were a major offender in user comments regarding blistering. But I decided to take a chance on the Conti DWSs because they were quiet, important in a convertible, had the Conti warranty and cost hundreds less than comparably rated tires. In hindsight that may have been a bad choice but I’m in it now and like I said I don’t have to worry about worn tires.
All I know is that I’m generally a Michelin Man. I even look like Bib.

I don’t know if there is any data to back up my observations over the last 55 years but in my opinion the tires that come mounted on a new car don’t hold up as well as the exact same replacement tires mounted on the same car.

Makes one wonder why Audi chose this tire.....
I'm sure price played a role and maybe nationalism.

BTW: I wouldn't give up on the damaged before ownership aspect.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks again!


Well all's well that ends well. Tire shop called and Continental has agree to replace all 3 tires under warranty at no cost. Since I have Blizzak studless snow tires in the same size and have driven those about the same distance, all in town and all during a time when pot holes were worse due to winter freeze and thawing...and since there are no bubbles on them...one could conclude that there's an issue with the Conti's not the tire size..... But time will tell. At least for now I got the right outcome. I will report back if anything else develops - I'm assuming some others on the forum have the same size and brand as me on their Q3.
 

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I missed most of this chat - but will throw in my 2 cents anyway. With wheel diameters getting larger and profiles getting smaller, even improved technologies (and we have many) are hardly keeping pace with the laws of physics. Many roads have potholes, frost heaves or other road imperfections (even the 1/2" metal bridge plates) that can wreak havoc on low profile side walls these days, at 30-50 mph. We just blunder over them without a thought and then discover the damage later, after long forgetting running into or over a palpalble road hazard. What used to be easy peasy for tires to run over, nowadays can destroy them easily. Most of us (especially ol' folks like me) have just not caught up with this fact and way of the future. We should count NOT on the tire manufacturers to always warrant them - but be plenty grateful when/if they do - but rather, be aware and careful. Remember, they (tire manufacturers) can always opt out of coverage thru their hazard clauses - and many do...
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Roger, your point about being cautious is great and I agree. However, I'm concerned that you are also saying that the combination of tire size and technology limitations has resulted in Audi (and others) selling a product that is prone to damage under what is today all too normal driving conditions. I'm left thinking that there should be a warning during the purchase process to advise customers that do not live in a land full of buttery smooth roads with no imperfections. In my case, in Bend I have to drive with a major focus on avoiding all types of potholes from small to large and believe me this is a task I focus on with considerable effort every time I get in my Q3. I would not expect a manufacturer to warrant a tire against the damage caused by a major pot hole. However I would also not expect to be sold a very expensive wheel/tire size combo that is not made to handle smaller, unavoidable bumps without being given adequate information and options at the point of sale. I continue to believe that I received several defective tires but I will never know for sure....
 

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cableguy - don't get me wrong, I do NOT disagree with you in kind - but it's just that the sense of the industry has gone this way, mostly in response to customer/market demands - and yes, they DO so state in their fine prints (road hazard exclusions etc) - but the real unfortunate thing is there is NO sensible definition of what is normal or unavoidable road hazards to which they would/could/should be held accountable to - or us for that matter ...

ALL manufacturers will weigh the actual claim/recourse options - when presented with them, to determine their own brand value/recognition/satisfaction payback on cost - whether really truly a defect or not -
 

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Cableguy, I’m glad that Continental stuck by their warranty for your tires. I know that after 5 years I’m always shocked when they continue to step up to the plate.
I do have a question regarding your prior Mini Cooper S. Minis tend to wear low profile tires and quite often run-flats, did you never experience similar problems with your Mini?
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I never had any issue with my tires on the Mini having bubbles, neither the summer or the winter tires. I ran 18" in the summer and 16" if I recall correctly...in the winter.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Thanks for the article - good info. There was a letter to the editor of our local rag today from a guy whose wife was one of a number of cars to hit a pothole (on a major east/west street in town) that he says was 1 1/2 foot deep and 4 ft long. He said they had $2800 damage the car and the city of Bend insurance would not accept the claim. An earlier article had said car owners should contact the city for damage reimbursement from potholes....didn't work for this guy.

Thankfully I have been able to avoid the holes all winter. The potholes really got bad AFTER I put on my winter Blizzaks...yet note that there are no bubbles on the Blizzaks like there were on the Continentals. While I have not hit any large potholes with the Blizzaks either, they have definitely traveled generally rougher roads due to snow and ice events. I applaud Continental for replacing the 3 tires!
 
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