If you’re driving and hear a loud boom from your tires, it’s possible that your tires may have blown out. When this happens, you will notice your vehicle pulling to one side of the road. In the worst case, it can even cause you to lose control of your car.
Blowouts aren’t just inconvenient; they are also extremely dangerous. We’re not referring to a punctured tire; in this case, the tire is completely destroyed. But what causes a tire blowout, and what can you do when it happens?
Causes of a tire blowout
The following are some of the common reasons tire blowouts occur.
1. Under-inflated tires
Tires have a recommended air pressure that should be maintained. When the air pressure is below or above the recommended range, problems can arise. The most common cause of tire blowout is underinflation, which means the tire has insufficient air pressure, even without a puncture.
When the air pressure drops, it puts strain on the tires, leading to overheating. This, in turn, causes the tire’s rubber to lose its bond with the internal fabric and steel cord reinforcement. Therefore, it’s important to regularly check and ensure that you maintain the proper air pressure.
To determine the recommended tire pressure for your vehicle, you can check the door jamb on the driver’s or passenger’s side, or refer to your owner’s manual. Remember that both underinflated and overinflated tires can cause problems, so avoid exceeding the recommended maximum pressure.
Every tire has a specific load rating that indicates the maximum weight it can safely support. Overloading your vehicle puts excessive strain on the tires and can lead to tire failure. If the vehicle is already overloaded and the tires are underinflated, driven at high speeds, or for long distances, a tire blowout becomes more likely and may be unavoidable.
3. Damaged road or hazards
Driving over potholes, sharp objects, and larger debris is detrimental to your tires. When tires encounter excessive force from hitting a pothole or road hazard, it can cause damage to the internal components of the tire. This damage increases the likelihood of an eventual tire blowout, either instantly or in the future.
If you drive over nails or broken glass, it can puncture your tires, creating a vulnerability that can lead to a blowout. While you cannot eliminate these hazards from the road, it’s crucial to remain vigilant and try to avoid driving over them whenever possible. If you must drive such roads, it’s advisable to drive at a slower speed to minimize the impact on your tires.
4. Punctured tires
Sometimes, nails may puncture your tires and remain unnoticed for months or weeks before falling out. Although you may not be aware of it, a punctured tire will gradually deflate, weaken, and eventually blow out.
To prevent this, it is important to regularly conduct visual inspections of your tires. Look for holes, nails, broken glass, embedded debris, or other sharp objects. If you notice anything unusual or a hole, have it repaired promptly to prevent expensive repairs later on.
5. Extreme heat
Most tire blowouts occur while driving at high speeds on highways or interstates. This is because tires generate more heat at higher speeds. However, it is important to note that tire blowouts can still happen at lower speeds.
In the hot summer months, temperatures can rise significantly, leading to a rapid buildup of heat in tires. This increased heat can cause severe damage to the tires. It is often referred to as the “tire blowout season” because many people load their vehicles and embark on long drives on hot roads during this time.
6. Uneven tread wear
Misaligned tires or a worn vehicle suspension can result in uneven wear on the surface of the tires. When tires wear unevenly, certain areas may become weakened, increasing the risk of tire blowouts.
Improper installation of tires is another cause of uneven wear that can lead to blowouts. If you are not familiar with how to install a spare tire, it is best to seek the assistance of a certified mechanic rather than attempting it yourself. To prevent uneven tread wear, it is important to maintain regular tire maintenance, including proper tire rotation and alignment.
8. Too old tires
If your tires are old, they may have experienced significant wear and tear. In order to prevent tire blowouts, it is advisable to replace them. As a general guideline, tires that are more than six years old should be considered for replacement.
9. Manufacturers defect
A manufacturing defect is indeed another potential cause of tire blowouts. It can be challenging to detect such defects because the tire may appear fine on the outside, while there could be an issue with its internal structure or components. Therefore, it is important to be aware that even seemingly healthy-looking tires could have hidden manufacturing defects that may contribute to a blowout. Regular inspections and maintenance are essential to identify any potential issues or abnormalities with the tires.
What to do when you experience a tire blowout
If you experience a blowout, the following are some safety tips to follow.
1. Stay calm
Overpanicking wouldn’t help, so your best option is to stay calm. Make sure not to hit the brakes or remove your foot from the gas pedal. Either action could cause you to lose control of your vehicle.
2. Steer straight
With a tire blowout, you may feel your vehicle veer to one side. Firmly grip the steering wheel with both hands and avoid making sharp turns or steering maneuvers. Keep the car moving in a straight line.
3. Press down the gas pedal gently
While maintaining a straight trajectory, gradually and gently accelerate to regain control of the car. Once you have regained control, you can slowly and steadily apply pressure to the gas pedal.
4. Allow the car slow down itself
A blown tire can act as a drag, causing the vehicle to slow down. At this point, it is advisable to activate your emergency lights or have a passenger do so to alert other drivers that you are slowing down. It is important to keep the vehicle steering straight and avoid turning the steering wheel.
5. Step on the brake when your speed lowers
When your speed drops below 30 mph, it is important to handle the situation with caution. Carefully turn the steering wheel and guide your car off the road, ensuring you choose a safe location away from the flow of traffic. Once you have successfully moved to a safe spot, it is recommended to call for assistance.
If you find yourself in a situation where you need to use a spare tire, it’s essential to be aware of its limitations. Spare tires are designed for temporary use only and are not intended for long-term driving. They have specific speed and distance restrictions that vary depending on the type of spare tire.
For more information on how long you can drive on a spare tire and its limitations, you can read our blog post: How Long Can You Drive on a Spare Tire?
Remember, it is always advisable to replace a damaged or blown-out tire with a proper, fully functional tire as soon as possible for optimal safety on the road.
Many blowouts occur due to insufficient air pressure in the tires. To prevent the loss of tire pressure, it is important to regularly rotate the tires, maintain the recommended PSI (pounds per square inch), and avoid driving on worn-out tires.
In the event of a blowout, it is crucial to remain calm. Avoid hitting the brakes or abruptly removing your foot from the accelerator pedal. Keep the steering wheel straight and allow the car to slow down gradually. Simultaneously, activate your hazard lights and, when it is safe to do so at a reduced speed, turn the wheels to guide the car.
What causes a tire to explode?
Low tire pressure, overloaded vehicles, overheating, impact damage, and occasionally manufacturer’s defects can lead to a tire explosion.
How do you prevent a tire blowout?
The best approach to preventing tire blowouts is to avoid factors that can contribute to them. Promptly repair any worn or flat tires, as neglecting them can lead to failure. Avoid overloading your vehicle with a weight that exceeds the tire rating or vehicle capacity, and make sure to regularly rotate your tires.
If you are unable to fix a flat tire and replace it with a spare, it is advisable to seek assistance from professionals or experts. Additionally, regularly check your tire pressure and ensure that it is maintained at the recommended PSI (pounds per square inch). Vehicles equipped with a tire pressure monitoring system often provide alerts when there is an issue with tire pressure.
How can a tire blowout happen?
A tire blowout occurs when a tire suddenly bursts, resulting in an immediate and significant loss of tire pressure. This event is often accompanied by a loud noise, resembling the sound of an explosion.