Why Do You Only Slash 3 Tires Instead Of 4? (Three-Tire Rule)

As gearheads, we all dearly care about our vehicles. So, it can be incredibly frustrating when someone slashes your tires. But, why would anyone slash only 3 tires instead of all 4? Today, we will answer this exact question.

While we would never recommend slashing someone’s tires, it will still benefit you to understand the thinking behind the “three-tire rule” What’s that? We hear you ask. Well, keep reading if you want to find out.

The reason some people may slash only three tires instead of all four is due to insurance policies. Many insurance companies cover the replacement cost if all four tires are slashed. However, if only three tires are damaged, the owner may have to bear the replacement cost themselves.

Although this belief is false, remember to take some precautionary measures the next time you leave your car parked on the side of a dark alley, just to be on the safe side.

Slash or Puncture

Tires Slashed Along the Madison River - Fly Fisherman

Before trying to understand why people only slash 3 tires instead of 4, you should be able to differentiate between punctures and slashes. Although both of these cause your tires to lose air, there are a few noteworthy differences between the two.

Tire punctures are more common than slashes, and mainly happen due to you running over a sharp object such as a screw, nail, or glass. Compared to slashes, punctures are smaller in size, and let air out slower. In addition, most punctures can be patched to prevent air from escaping.

While most punctures happen unintentionally, slashes, on the other hand, are almost always done on purpose. Done with a sharp knife or razor blade, slashes leave long cuts or gashes on the tires, rendering them useless. In addition, slashes deflate tires instantly.

But why would someone target the tires specifically? You see, the tires are an integral part of a vehicle. Without air in all four tires, you won’t be able to move your vehicle an inch. Another reason why malicious attackers target the tires is the cost. Tires are expensive and lay open to the elements, making them an easy target for someone holding a grudge against you.

You can identify a slashed tire by simply taking a closer look at it. As the tire tread is hard to get through even for the sharpest of knives, most vandals target the sidewalls for slashing. If there are multiple cuts and flat spots on the tire that wasn’t there before, someone has most probably slashed them on purpose.

The Three Tire Rule

Now that you clearly understand tire slashing let us shift our attention toward why an attacker would slash only three tires instead of four.

Slashing only three tires stems from the misconception that insurance won’t pay compensation if all four tires aren’t damaged. This is more commonly referred to as the “three-tire rule”

Although this might seem convincing at first, there is no evidence to prove that such a rule exists. As long as you have the correct coverage, insurance will cover tire damage no matter the number of tires slashed.

However, you might have to jump through some hurdles to get the insurance to pay for the slashed tires. You’ll have to give them a comprehensive explanation of the situation, and some companies might require evidence as well.

Should You Drive A Car With Slashed Tires?

Vancouver crime: Family's tires slashed | CityNews Vancouver

No matter the situation, you should never drive a car with slashed tires, especially at high speeds. Not only would this damage your car, but there is an extreme risk of veering off the road and getting into an accident as well.

So, what should you do if your tires have been slashed?

First and foremost, make sure that the surroundings are safe. Tires can be replaced, but your life cannot. If you feel threatened or uneasy, seek shelter in a safe location. But, if no imminent threats are present, you can move on to looking for witnesses or security cameras that might have captured footage of the tire slasher.

Next, we recommend you contact local law enforcement about the situation. On most occasions, an officer will be on his way. Also, remember that a police report is essential for filing a claim with your insurance company. Speaking of insurance, you should inform them about what has happened as well.

As we already mentioned, It is essential that you replace the slashed tires before moving your vehicle. You can either call a tow truck or get the help of roadside assistance.

Fixing A Tire Slash

If the slash is small in size and not so severe, you can try and patch it. But be warned! We can’t guarantee that this will succeed.

To patch up the gash, you have to locate it first. If the slash is on the inside of the tire, you’ll have to detach the wheel from your car first. Additionally, you can identify more points of air leaks by applying a soapy water solution to the tire surface. The formation of air bubbles indicates the places where the air is escaping the tire.

After locating all the slashes, you can cut and prepare the area for patching. Next, seal the slashes by applying vulcanized liquid, and let it dry. Remember to check for leaks before attaching the tire back to your car. Also, remember that this is only a temporary fix, and avoid driving at high speeds.

Preventive Maintenance Tips To Prevent Tire Slashing

Worried about someone slashing your tires? If so, here are some precautionary measures you should take.

Be Mindful of Where You Park

Most vandals choose the cover of darkness to carry out their attacks. Parking your vehicle in well-lit areas whenever possible is one of the easiest ways of deterring them. Also, make sure that the area you park has regular foot traffic.

Instead of parking your vehicle on the side of the road, we recommend utilizing a garage or a secure parking lot. Parking on public roads leaves your car vulnerable to various types of crimes, like break-ins, parts theft, and tire slashing.

Invest In A Car Alarm System

Car alarms are another great way of keeping away car thieves and vandals. Many types of car alarm systems are available on the market, but we recommend going for one with motion sensors for the best defense against tire slashers.

Get Some Wheel Locks

Investing in some wheel locks is another great way of preventing tire theft. These special locking lug nuts attach to each wheel, and can only be removed with a unique key. Without that specific key, a thief can’t remove the tire, rim, or wheel from your car.

Although wheel locks do not offer any protection from slashing, they still act as a deterrent to keep vandals away.

Other Types of Tire Damage

Slashing is one of the rarest types of tire damage people come across during vehicle ownership. Shall we take a look at the most common ones?


As you might already know, punctures happen when your tires run across something sharp lying across the road. There are two types of punctures, slow ones, and rapid ones. Rapid punctures let the air out suddenly, hampering vehicle handling and performance. Luckily, they are easier to identify.

On the other hand, it takes a bit more diagnosis to uncover a slow puncture. These let the air out slowly, leading the tire to become disfigured and deflated.

No matter which type of puncture you get, it is important to patch it using a tire repair kit or replace the punctured tire with the spare wheel before carrying on with your journey.

Irregular Tread Wear

Several factors can lead to your tire tread wearing irregularly. These include over-inflation, under-inflation, and tire misalignment. Inflating your tires only up to the manufacturer-recommended levels, performing tire rotations, and balancing tires every 12,000 miles can help to keep irregular tread wear at bay.

Sidewall Cracks

If you regularly drive on rough roads, there is a high possibility of cracks appearing on your sidewalls. Not only do these cracks hamper the handling characteristics of a car, but they also reduce traction as well. In addition to driving on bad roads, high UV exposure can also lead to sidewall cracks.

Damaged Sidewalls

Sidewalls are one of the hardest parts of a tier, but that does not mean they are bulletproof. Rubbing against curbs when parallel parking or hitting a pothole too fast is enough to weaken the structural integrity of the sidewall and damage it.

Although slashing 3 tires instead of 4 believing that insurance won’t pay for damages is a myth, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try and protect your vehicle from vandals. Remember what you learned here today to prolong the lifespan of your tires and enjoy them to the maximum.

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Falken vs. Michelin Tires: Which One Is Better?

3 Common Hankook Tire Problems You Need to Know About

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Mahir Ahmed


I'm the guy responsible for ensuring honest, informative, accurate and helpful guide to the reader.

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