Brisbane Tyres – The how, why, and what of tyre blowouts
The chances are that you’ll never suffer a blowout; but if you do, be prepared for a harrowing experience.
In this article you’ll learn:
- What causes a blowout
- What it feels like to have a tyre blowout
- How to handle the car and come to a safe stop if you have a tyre blowout
- How to change a tyre on a car after a blowout
- How to prevent tyre blowouts
Why do blowouts happen on car tyres?
A tyre will only blow out if it is already failing in some way. Most commonly this will be because of a fracture or split in the tyre or one of its components, or a separation of the tyre components. If the tyre is damaged or worn, subjecting it to excessive stress could then cause the blowout – perhaps because of subjecting it to too much weight, driving too fast, or over-inflation.
Will a tyre blow out straight away?
Even if you over-inflate a tyre or ask it to carry too much weight, it’s unlikely to burst suddenly. It will probably take an extra tyre trauma to make it blow. This might be hitting a rock on the road, or bumping over a pothole, or perhaps kerbing the tyre while driving or parking. In the ordinary course of events, a tyre will deal with all of these with ease. When the tyre’s already damaged is when the chances of a blowout are increased.
Tyres are built to be resilient
Tyre manufacturers understand that we’re all human, and know that we’ll make mistakes when inflating tyres and loading cars.
On the tyre wall, you’ll notice a bunch of numbers. One of these indicates the maximum pressure. Let’s say that it states that you shouldn’t inflate to more than 35 psi. If you inflate to a pressure of 36 or 37 psi, it’s not going to blow. That’s a good thing because tyre pressure gauges in service stations are notoriously inaccurate.
Similarly, if you overload your car by a little bit, the car may sit a little lower than it should, but this won’t cause your tyre to blow.
When developing and testing tyres, manufacturers deliberately build in a margin of error. They test rims and flanges, overinflate tyres, and puncture tyres in the tread with a plunger to simulate a protruding bolt or nail.
In other words, tyres are resilient. But they’re not infallible. They do occasionally fail, especially if they have been mistreated or poorly maintained. That’s when you’re most likely to have a blowout.
How do you know you’ve got a blowout?
A blowout usually happens when travelling at speed, and the immediate effect is that your car will start slowing down and the steering will pull either to the left or right. The pull can be violent, almost ripping the steering wheel from your grip.
How to bring the car to a safe standstill
You’ll want to avoid swerving into a neighbouring lane, which can be difficult to do when taken by surprise. Swerve into another lane, and you could hit an oncoming vehicle or cause an accident with a vehicle travelling in the same direction. So you need to take action to avoid departing your lane.
You could also grind to halt, especially if you brake incorrectly, and cause a car from behind to slam into you.
To avoid both these outcomes, you’ll need to do two things:
- First, keep your foot on the accelerator. This is easier said than done because your natural instinct will be to stop the car as quickly as possible. Keeping your foot on the accelerator will ensure you continue to move forward.
- Second, steer the opposite way to the direction of your swerve. You need to drive gently, and not yank the steering wheel in the opposite direction to the swerve. This will correct the swerve and set the car straight.
Now that you have the car under control, you can steer to the shoulder taking normal driving precautions.
How to change a tyre after a blowout
Now that you’re safely on the side of the road, you can change your flat tyre. Put out your warning triangle if you have one, and use hazard lights to warn other road users of your presence. Now that you and other road users are safe, follow these instructions to change your tyre:
- Remove the spare wheel from your boot, together with the jack and wrench.
- Loosen the wheel nuts, without removing them completely.
- Place the jack under the chassis and raise the car slowly.
- Remove the wheel nuts.
- Remove the wheel, and place to one side.
- Place the replacement wheel in the vacant wheel space, and tighten the nuts (but not entirely).
- Lower the car to the road, put the jack to one side, and tighten the wheel nuts thoroughly.
- Check for safety.
- Put your tools away, and place the wheel with the faulty tyre in the boot.
Some cars have emergency spare wheels, with tyres that are only designed to travel a short distance of around 50 kilometres. In this case, drive to the nearest tyre shop to get a new tyre fitted as quickly as possible.
As soon as you are home (or when it is practical to do so) call us here at Darra. Bring your car in, and we’ll check all your tyres, including the spare, to make certain that they’re in good shape and don’t need replacing.
If you don’t want a tyre blowout, here’s what to do
In almost every single blowout case I’ve seen, the blowout could have been aided by taking a few simple precautions. Of course, these include driving sensibly for different road conditions, but equally as important is how you treat your tyres:
- Don’t overinflate your tyres. The tyre will have a maximum pressure stamped on it, but this is not necessarily the maximum you should inflate to. Every car has its own recommended tyre pressures. These are usually found on a label on the inside pillar of the driver’s door.
- Check your tyre pressures at least once a month – the two minutes it takes could save your life. There are safety risks if you get your tyre pressure wrong.
- Save your life and your money by proper tyre rotation. Tyre rotation is integral to ensuring even wear and tear, helping your tyres perform better and last longer.
- Never buy fake tyres. You may save a few dollars, but you will certainly risk your life and the lives of passengers and other road users. (See our article titled How to make sure you don’t buy fake tyres, for tips that could save your life.)
- Employ driving techniques that will help your car tyres last longer.
Finally, get an annual tyre check. Bring your car to our Darra Tyres shop, and we’ll check your tyres, wheel alignment, and balance. Our job is to make sure you and your passengers are safe on the roads.
Contact Darra Tyres today on (07) 3333 5510. We’re here to serve.