Tire blowouts are scary for most drivers, both newbies and experienced. You'll hear a loud boom and wonder what hit you. If you're not prepared, you could lose total control of your vehicle and get into an accident. No one wants that to happen, which is why we've created this quick guide. Let's go over what is a tire blowout and how you should handle it.
What's a Tire Blowout?
Sometimes, tires explode while on the road. They make a loud noise, lose pressure, and deflate. That's a tire blowout.
Nowadays, car safety is a lot better than it used to be 50 years ago. Tire blowouts don't happen all that often with modern cars. But that's no excuse to dismiss the issue. In 2019 alone, over 600 people died in tire-related accidents—some due to tire blowouts.
Why Do Tire Blowouts Happen?
Tire blowouts can happen for several reasons:
Too little air pressure in the tires: Unlike what many drivers think, underinflating a tire won't protect you from a blowout. Quite the opposite. That's because tires with too little pressure lose their shape and can easily overheat.
Overheated tires: Weird things happen when tires get too hot. The air pressure inside the tires rises, making a blowout much more likely. It's no coincidence that the summer months are "tire blowout season."
Too much weight on the tires: Overloading your vehicle (with people and cargo) can also lead to tire blowouts.
Hitting something at high speed: Potholes, curbs, and car parts left on the road can all damage your tire and make it explode.
What to Do if You Have a Tire Blowout on the Road
You may one day have a tire blowout while driving. It happens. Knowing what to do if that happens could save your life.
First, remain calm. It's normal to be taken aback by the explosion, but you need to keep a level head.
Second, remember to not hit the breaks or steer the wheel. Because you'll only have three functioning tires, breaking will send your car spinning.
Instead, step on the gas (yes, really). Don't accelerate like an F1 driver, but rather, maintain your cruising speed. Driving through a tire blowout helps you regain control of your vehicle.
Then, after the initial moments, slowly remove your foot from the gas pedal and apply the brakes gently. Remember to keep the wheel steady. The goal is to safely lose speed until you come to a halt somewhere safe. Usually, that's the right shoulder of the road.
Once you're stopped, turn on the emergency lights. If it's safe to do so, change the tire. If it isn't, call roadside assistance.
Preventing Tire Blowouts
There are some things you can do to prevent a tire blowout:
Keep your tires well inflated. The newest car models flash a light on the dashboard when the pressure gets too low. Even if your ride doesn't have that feature, check the user's manual for the recommended air pressure.
Don't overload your vehicle. Even the biggest passenger trucks come with weight limits. Check what your car manufacturer's recommendations are and stick to them.
Keep your eyes far ahead on the road. This will help you avoid driving over debris on the road.
Become a Better Driver with a Defensive Driving Course
Knowing how to handle tire blowouts is a good step toward becoming a better driver. Another step you can take is to enroll in an online defensive driving course. In these self-paced lessons, you'll learn how to react to bad weather, aggressive drivers, and a lot more. By the end, you'll feel more confident in your driving skills — and will know how to avoid accidents.