BAM! Whoosh! Flump, flump, flump! What in the world was that sound? Why is my steering wheel so hard to turn? These may be questions you ask during the frightening and potentially dangerous experience of a tire blowout. Fortunately, we have some tips on how to help prevent a blowout from happening and what to do in the event that it does happen to you.
What is a Tire Blowout?
You may have heard the term tire blowout used synonymously with a flat tire, but these tire troubles are actually two different occurrences and differ greatly. Flat tires generally have a slow loss of pressure whereas blowouts are a result of a rapid loss of pressure. Because most of today’s tires are generally very reliable, blowouts don’t occur as often as in the past and since the incorporation of the Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems (TPMS) in modern vehicles, they are more preventable than ever.
What Happens During a Blowout?
You may notice several things happening all at once when your tire blows. Here’s what is common with tire blowouts:
- Sound- First, you’ll hear a very loud boom or bang sound. This sound is a result of the tire’s rapid immediate release of pressure. You will then hear the sound of air whooshing out as the air is forced out of the tire, and finally, a flapping and flopping sound as the deflated tire continues to make contact with the road.
- Sensation- Once the blowout occurs, your vehicle will immediately begin to slow down as well as pull to the left or right. The vehicle may begin to vibrate and when a front tire blows the vehicle will act as if it wants to swerve towards the blown-out tire and rear tires will produce a swaying motion back and forth.
What Causes a Tire Blow Out?
Often tire blowouts are a result of poor maintenance. Ensuring your car’s tires are properly inflated is crucial to the life of the tire. When a tire is underinflated, the tire walls become more flexible than normal and as you drive, the heat in the rubber builds up or the wheel digs into the sidewall of the tire and causes a blowout. Tires are especially vulnerable during the months between May and October as the temperature in the air and asphalt is much hotter, which affects tire pressure. Overinflated tires are also a contributing factor when it comes to tire blowouts. Overinflated tires are more susceptible to being punctured or slashed by objects on the road such as large rocks, potholes, and other hazards, especially as the tread gets lower. Your vehicle is also at risk for a blowout as a result from over-loading the maximum weight limit, large punctures, age, and wear.
What Do I Do During a Blowout?
The first thing you should do in any emergent situation, especially behind the wheel, is to stay calm. Take a deep breath and focus on the road. Remaining calm will allow you to think more clearly and keep you safe. Here are some other do’s and don’ts when it comes to tire blowouts:
- Keep a firm grip on the steering wheel. Avoid making sudden movements or jerking the steering wheel to force the car into the direction you want to go. This may be difficult as the wheel will try to pull in the direction of the blown tire but resisting this natural reaction will keep your vehicle in a forward direction.
- Do NOT slam on the brakes. Your natural reaction will be to slam on the brakes but resist the urge. Instead, accelerate. A short press of the accelerator will not make the vehicle increase speed (the blown tire will actually create drag.) Pressing the accelerator will aid in the stabilization of the vehicle. This also helps prevent you from instinctively pressing the brake or turning the steering wheel.
- Slow down gradually and pull over. Though you may have accelerated, a tire blowout will impede your speed and the vehicle will begin to slow. Once you have pressed the accelerator, gently take your foot off and allow the vehicle to coast and slow down. The brake may be pressed lightly to assist in bringing the vehicle to a stop.
- Activate your emergency flashers. If possible, set up cones, reflective triangles, or flares to alert other drivers of the hazard ahead.
- Change the tire. If your surroundings are safe and the vehicle is far enough off the road, change your tire. If you are unable to do so, contact roadside assistance and wait for help to arrive.
How Can I Avoid a Blowout?
You can avoid the stressful situation of a tire blowout by taking a few precautions before you hit the road. Tire maintenance is the best defense in preventing tire blowouts on the road. Maintenance should include maintaining the proper tire pressure, inspecting tires for proper wear and tread depth, and rotating the tires every 5,000 miles.
Let Sun Devil Auto help you prevent tire blowouts. Did you know the Sun Devil Auto oil change includes lube, oil, filter, a top off of fluids, a multipoint inspection, and if needed, a complimentary tire rotation? on We’re the expert on all vehicle maintenance services including oil changes, brakes, fluid flushes, and tire care such as rotations and balances. Visit any of our locations in the Phoenix-Metro area today!