Whether you are driving for a short or long distance, nobody likes to experience tire failure such as a puncture.
While punctures are more common, a tire blowout is dangerous and a scary experience for any driver. Although the radial and tread technology and is now advanced, tire blowouts still happen. What causes them? What should you do when you have one? Here are the details!
Blown Out Tire
A blown-out tire is a result of a sudden loss of air pressure in an inflatable tire. It’s caused by underinflation, overloading, extreme heat, impact damage, low air pressure, uneven tires, or if your tires are old and defective. While a tire blowout can be scary, you can calmly bring your car to stop without causing an accident.
Read on to learn more about what causes a blown-out tire, what to do when you experience one, how to fix it, and how to prevent it from happening again!
What Is A Tire Blowout?
A tire blowout is the sudden loss of air pressure in the tire, which is sometimes accompanied by the sound of a loud explosion.
Unlike tire punctures, tire blowouts are less common but still occur due to factors such as road conditions, underinflation, or overloading.
Tire blowouts mostly happen due to an excessive strain on a tire’s internal structure, which causes severe damage or complete disintegration of the tire, especially the rubber parts.
According to data, there were 738 fatalities as a result of blown tires in the U.S., which has increased over the years. It’s estimated that flat tires and blowouts cause approximately 78,000 accidents every year.
What Causes Tire Blow Outs?
When driving, tire blowouts can occur very suddenly and cause you to lose control over your vehicle.
If your tire failure occurs due to the gradual loss in air pressure, you may detect this change using the Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS), which alerts you when the tires have low pressure.
Because of the suddenness of a tire blowout, it’s essential to know precisely what you need to do in such a situation and to react quickly to avoid any accidents.
Fortunately, most tires in the market today have improved radial technology. The steel belts and plies have also been engineered with more strength and durability features. The tread compounds are also more advanced.
Therefore, because of all these factors, tire blowouts rarely happen, but when they do, they happen for the following reasons.
Underinflation is one of the leading causes of a tire blowout because when the tire doesn’t have enough air pressure, the tire will start sagging and lose shape, making it hard to support the vehicle’s weight.
Once this continues, the tire starts to overheat, which weakens and softens the rubber material, eventually causing the tire to give in.
As a driver, you need to keep in mind that the sides of your tires are thinner than the tread meets the road surface; therefore, low air pressure will create weak spots, which result in a blowout.
Different tire brands have their own different PSI (pounds per square inch) and, you’ll find a label in your car with the specific PSI that indicates the air pressure for the front, rear and spare tires.
For most vehicles, the recommended PSI is between 30 to 35; although, this will vary depending on the vehicle type.
Remember that tires usually lose air over time, 1-2 PSI per month, and about 1 PSI is lost with every 10°F drop in temperature; therefore, it’s critical that you stick to these guidelines to avoid tire problems.
If you have experienced such an issue, you should check the inner liner to identify the cause. If burnt rubber chunks are missing from the liner, the tire blowout was most likely occurred by under-inflation.
If this is your case, tire manufacturers and insurance companies may replace the tire for free or refuse to repay the damage.
Every vehicle has a gross vehicle weight rating, and these weight restrictions are calculated for a reason.
If you are going on a trip and you load more bags or luggage than the recommended weight, you’ll place undue stress on the tires and, if one of them is already punctured or underinflated, the pressure will lead to a blowout.
Additionally, if you don’t rotate your tires regularly, you’ll have uneven tread wear on your tires, which eventually causes the weakest tire to blow out when overloaded.
When you drive at high speeds when the vehicle is overloaded, it adds more heat to the tire and increases the chances of getting an accident.
To avoid this problem, check the same label with details about the tire pressure to know the maximum weight your vehicle should carry.
Road Damage & Potholes
In a country like India, Statista data shows that they were about 4,770 accidents caused by potholes in 2019.
Potholes are also a menace in other countries and contribute to tire damages, contributing to the number of fatal road accidents.
Driving over a road with debris, curbs, nails, sharp objects or, potholes could lead to punctures which can either cause the tire to go flat or explode, especially when driving at high speeds.
If any of these items cut through the fabric and rubber, the impact will be immediate and, the tire will stop functioning; however, in some cases, the damage will not show up immediately.
Uneven tread occurs if you don’t take your tires to be rotated regularly and could increase the chances of a tire blowout.
Always ensure that your tires are maintained according to the manufacturer’s instructions to avoid such problems.
If your tire is bald in some places, it will heat up faster and fall apart much quicker than a tire that is properly maintained.
If you are driving around with old or defective tires, you are setting yourself up for a tire blowout.
Most manufacturers recommend that you should replace your tires every ten years maximum even if they still look like they are in good condition.
Old tires will not perform optimally as expected and increase the chances of experiencing a tire blowout.
Tire blowouts are very common when the weather is warm because the high temperatures cause the rubber to expand, increasing the surface area making contact with the hot tarmac.
If you drive for long, this heat and pressure can become too much for the tire to remain intact, leading to a dangerous blowout for the driver on the wheel and other motorists on the road.
You can avoid this by ensuring that the tires are not overinflated and have adequate pressure for driving in hot conditions.
What To Do When a Tire Blows Out?
A tire blowout is a driver’s worst nightmare, especially if you are driving at highs speed on the highway. It can lead to accidents and injuries for both the driver of the vehicle and also affect the other motorists.
While it’s natural to panic, you can follow these steps to regain control of your car and get your vehicle and passengers to safety.
One of the first steps is to try and stay calm as you find a way to move your car to safety.
Grip The Steering Wheel Firmly
Once the tire blows out, the car may move to the side where the tire blew; therefore, attempting to correct the steering will cause the vehicle to lose control more. Instead, you should keep both hands on the steering wheel and have the car moving straight.
Although this is usually the first instinct once you experience a blowout, you should altogether avoid braking because it will cause your wheels to lock up, leading to total loss of control.
Instead of the breaks, it’s advisable to maintain the speed, take your foot off the gas pedal and let the car decelerate slowly.
Once your car’s speed has gone down, pull over the vehicle to the side of the road, a safe distance from other motorists.
At this point, you should put on your hazard lights to warn other drivers to drive with caution around your car to prevent any further accidents.
Change Your Tire or Call Emergency Services
After you are safely parked, you can now assess the damage to determine whether you can fix a spare wheel by yourself or call for rescue services from your provider.
Can a Blown Out Tire Be Fixed?
Unlike a flat or punctured tire, most blown-out tires cannot be fixed, especially if the damage is extensive.
If the rubber parts have entirely separated from other parts of the tire such, as the rim, you’ll need to repair the entire tire.
Such cases are critical; therefore, it’s advisable to have a spare tire in your trunk, which you can shop tires from top reputable brands, and stores such as Walmart or even Amazon.
In instances where the tire blowout is caused by underinflation, some tire manufacturers and insurance companies may not repay the damages or replace the tires for free because the driver is liable.
How Do You Prevent Tire Blowouts?
Although tire blowouts happen suddenly, some of them can be prevented if you take precautions and pay attention to tire maintenance.
Here are some tips to guide you on how to do this.
Check Tire Pressure Regularly
Air pressure problems cause most tire blowouts; hence you should ensure that you check your tire pressure every month as recommended.
According to the law, most cars now come fitted with the TPMS system to monitor tire pressure, so you should always check this feature to confirm that your tires are in order.
You should also keep a tire pressure gauge in the car that you can use to monitor the PSI levels, especially before a long trip.
Additionally, you should consult professional mechanics at least once a month to guide you on the best tire care.
Replace Old Tires
When you buy the tires, they have a date of manufacture, and each brand has a recommended life span.
Therefore, in addition to monitoring the pressure, you should also closely check the tire’s condition, such as the tread wear, and replace them as soon as you notice a problem.
If you have any cracks on the rubber or your tire is bald, you increase your chances of a blowout; therefore, you should change them when they wear out.
When traveling, always ensure that your car has carried the recommended weight to avoid putting too much pressure on the tires.
Trucks and SUVs are the biggest culprit in this, which increases the risk of a blowout.
Check for Damages and Tears
If not checked properly, your car can move around with a small tear and damage for many miles until when it finally blows out.
To avoid this scenario, always monitor the tires for any cracks, tire bubbles, holes, or tears in the sidewall and have them addressed as soon as you can.
When this is left to stay on for longer, the car gradually loses air pressure and will eventually blow out when the pressure becomes too much.
To learn more, you can also read our posts on how long do run-flat tires last, tire damage from hitting a curb, and the underinflated tires.
Tire blowouts are not as common as tire punctures; however, it happens due to several reasons.
While some are avoidable and others not, taking care of your tire pressure is critical to ensuring you don’t experience a blowout.
These blowouts often happen suddenly and can be very scary to the driver; however, I have shared some tips on how you can bring your car to safety and avoid injuring yourself and other motorists.
Accidents caused by tire blowouts can be hazardous, especially when driving at high speed on the highway.
Regular tire maintenance plays a significant role in reducing the occurrence of tire blowouts; therefore, it should be a priority for every driver.