As drivers, we have a list of certain fears when being behind the wheel. Some of them could be: the car behind us not hitting the brakes in times, pedestrians not crossing the road safely, flying debris ending up in our windshield etc. One of the most common fears however is that of a tire blowout while driving, especially at high speeds on the highway. If you have a tire blowout, it might seem like the world shrinks on you and all control is taken away. We’re here to assure you that’s not the case. With the proper technique and know-how, you can stop the car and make sure you’re safe and sound!
But before we delve into the matter, we want to underline a positive aspect. Since 2008, all new vehicles are required to have a monitoring system for tire pressure. As such, if you do own a more recent car, make sure to keep this in mind, as it can really help you. Of course, monitoring the pressure doesn’t mean that you’ll never have a tire blowout, so you should be prepared all the same.
Why Do Tires Blow Up Anyway?
At first look, this occurrence can seem very counter-intuitive. After all, your tires support the same weight (give or take) all-day, every day, right? True enough, but it’s not really about that (although you should respect the load limit your manufacturer specifies). When a burst happens, it’s all about the air pressure inside the tire. In turn, it’s because of this pressure being in too small amounts that most blowouts happen.
That’s right, too little air pressure. Again, we know it seems counter-intuitive, but there’s an explanation. Without sufficient inflation, the tire begins to flex beyond its elastic limit. In time, the rubber on the tire loses the bond that it has, both to the internal fabric, and the steel cord reinforcement. If you also happen to have a punctured tire, or drive over a pothole while it’s leaking, you have an increased chance for a blowout.
And of course, we have to attribute credit to wear & tear, especially in the summer months. The more you have to travel by car beneath the boiling Arizona sun and over its searing pavement, the higher the chance for a flat tire.
How You’ll Know Your Tire Has Just Blown
The first and most obvious indication that you’ve just experienced a tire blowout while driving is a loud boom. The sound is intensified because the tire’s popping gets reverberated through your car. Immediately after this, there will be a sound akin to a whoosh; this is the air that’s now rapidly escaping from the tire. Thirdly and lastly, the deflated tire will repeatedly flap along the road. This is an unusual feeling from driving a fully functioning automobile, and you should be able to tell.
It’s completely normal to be shocked to varying degrees when a sudden boom comes out of your moving vehicle. The first and most difficult step is of course, staying calm! We know, way easier said than done, but if you give in to panic, unfortunate things are likely to happen. After the tire’s compromised, the vehicle is going to slow down and be harder to control. Then, it’s going to pull hard either to the left or the right, depending on the blown tire. There’s an easy way to tell if the culprit is in the front or the back of the car: front blowouts are felt when steering, while rear blowouts are felt in the seat or the body.
So What To Do If You Have A Tire Blowout While Driving
We’ve established how to tell that one of your tires has just blown. Now, it’s time to find out what you actually have to do if you have a tire blowout. A natural reaction might be to slam on the brakes, but this must be avoided. You’ve just lost one of your tires, and if you’re speeding as well, this will have very sour results. Instead, follow these next steps (that have also been recommended by the National Safety Council in a form or another):
While Still Behind The Steering Wheel
- Maintain a firm grip of the steering wheel
- Turn on your emergency flashers
- Let your vehicle slow down gradually
- Once it’s safe to do so, pull to the side of the road
After Pulling To The Side Of The Road
Only exit the car after making sure it’s safe to do so. Leave your emergency flashers on, as they’ll alert other drivers of your presence and avoid an accident. If you have reflective cones or triangles, place them alongside the road. Do not place them on the road (so that they’d be a safety hazard), especially if you’re pulled up right after a turn.
If the place where you managed to pull up isn’t spacious enough, or if you don’t know how, don’t attempt to change your tire. Seating it improperly will do more harm than good. Instead, call roadside assistance. Always keep in mind that an emergency tire shouldn’t be used for long distances or at high speeds.
How To Prevent A Tire Blowout
There are a few steps you can undertake to make sure that you won’t have to go through this process. Firstly, routine inspections of your tires for leaks is always a good idea. Furthermore, live we’ve previously established, it’s just as important to have their pressure checked.
Whenever possible, make some time to go through your manufacturer’s manual. It’ll familiarize you with where the spare tire and the tools are, and what’s the optimal load for your vehicle.
Driving in safe conditions should always be a priority in our book. In this case, it means checking your tires regularly and having a specialist take a closer look if you think something’s out of order. It’s our recommendation that you keep this train of thought for all car related aspects.
One such aspect where we can be of direct usefulness to you is car glass, as we’re one of Arizona’s most trusted auto glass repair & replacement shops. If you think there’s something we could help you with, for $0 Out-of-Pocket cost no less, give us a call at (480) 525-6554.