Driving down the road is the last time you want to feel one of your tires blow out. You’ve got to come to a complete stop, to assess the damage.
Learning why they typically happen could help you discover what’s wrong with yours and how to prevent a future blowout.
Tires typically blow out because of over or under inflation, punctures, misalignment, uneven wear, encountering potholes or other hazards on the road, manufacturing defects, extreme friction levels, and age. Basic tire maintenance is sufficient to get ahead of most of these issues and prevent blowouts.
For more information about each of these 8 common reasons and what you can do to prevent them from happening to you, read on!
8 Common Reasons for Tire Blowouts
1. Under or Over Inflation
Tires are meant to hold a specific level of pressure. If they’re underinflated, you’ll create a lot of friction. All that friction wears out the tire a lot faster whenever you’re driving long distances.
Driving on an overinflated tired isn’t good, either!
Overinflating them can make them less resistant to punctures and impacts. Sometimes, drivers overinflate tires to increase their MPGs. But, that’s also putting their tires at risk.
2. Punctures Through the Tire Wall
Sometimes, a puncture inevitably finds its way into your tire. Some construction site might’ve left a nail, lying on the road.
You were driving happily along, and then it suddenly stopped your entire trip.
Look out for things while you’re driving that could puncture your tire. Avoiding them is really your only option.
If it’s a small puncture, you can usually patch your tire. Patching it would be less than a replacement most of the time.
You could also keep a can of sealant in the trunk of your vehicle. Putting some into a tire can let it hold enough air in them to get you all the way home.
3. Misaligned Front Ends
Most sedans use a front-wheel-drive transmission system. This places your front tires under more stress than the ones in the rear.
Compounding this, a misaligned front could wear through them fast.
When you’re car is well-aligned, all the wheels rotate along the same axis. Misaligned wheels don’t. Driving on them when they’re like that places more strain on them.
Remember to get your tires aligned at least twice a year. It can help to prolong them, and you might even notice a smoother drive.
4. Unrotated Tires
Alignments aren’t the only problem that might cause a blowout. Forgetting to rotate them could also make a blowout inevitable.
Usually, the front tires are strained by the transmission and steering assembly.
They’re responsible for making the vehicle move when it’s at a complete stop. Plus, they’re the leading edge whenever you’re in a turn.
Rotating your tires lets you distribute the stress across all 4.
Frequent rotations can help you make them last longer work better. They’ll wear more evenly, enhancing traction.
5. Potholes and Road Damage
Hearing your suspension bottom out is always a heart-pounding sensation. Quite a few tires meet their end by slamming into a pothole.
The added force causes them to crack, or the pavement might puncture them.
Either way, you’ve got to drive slowly when you’re on neglected roads. Otherwise, you could easily puncture one of your tires by slamming into one.
Slow driving can make them relatively harmless, though. Keep an eye out for sharp debris when you’re going over them.
Don’t drive with anything on the dashboard. Always keep your windshield clean, too. Driving with a clear view of the road can help limit the likelihood of diving into potholes.
6. Defective Tires
Not all tires are made equal, unfortunately. Some tires get made with defects in them.
Most of the time, manufacturers issue recalls to get them back from their customers. Sending your tire back to them usually gets rewarded with a new one.
However, a poorly-made tire can have weak threading. It’s not enough to hold all its stitching together.
There could even be a problem with its sidewall, causing it to leak air.
You can look up the model number on the side of your tire online. Look around to see if you’re able to find anyone else who’s had a similar experience.
Doing that can let you know if it’s a manufacturer’s defect.
7. High Levels of Friction
Tires are made of flame-resistant rubber, but they’re still vulnerable to heat. Driving with something against them can create tons of friction.
Something could get stuck inside of the axle, rubbing against the tire’s sidewall.
All that friction releases a ton of heat when you’re flying down the highway. Over time, it begins to melt its way through, to the heart of your tire.
Check underneath your car before taking off. Make sure there’s nothing stuck to the undercarriage that could rub your tires.
If you find something, remove it gently. Tearing it off could damage some of the car’s internal mechanics. After making sure it’s safe, get it off the car’s underside.
8. Age-Related Degradation
All tires have a limited lifespan. Rubber is vulnerable to the UV rays produced by the sun. UV rays slowly degrade them, eventually into nothing.
Storing your tires away from the sun can protect them somewhat. But, you’ve still got to worry about dry rot.
Most tires last around 60,000. Some of them can last even longer, possibly up to 100,000 miles.
Proper tire care routines help to improve your tire’s lifespan. But, you’ll still have to replace them at some point.
The older your tires are, the more likely they’re going to blow out. Driving on exceptionally old tires isn’t even safe.
Make sure you’ve replaced them within the last 5 years, at the very least.
That’s new enough to drive on them safely.
How Common are Tire Blowouts?
In years past, tire blowouts were more common than they are today.
Although tire blowouts are deemed to be the primary factor for over 78,000 auto accidents each year in the United States and lead to over 400 deaths annually, the fact is these accidents happen very infrequently.
In some parts of the country where the weather gets especially hot during the summer and fall months, tire blowouts tend to happen more frequently.
Generally, the so-called “tire blowout season” tends to run from May-October, but this can vary from one region to another.
Overall, tire blowouts have been found to occur in almost seven percent of all vehicles on the road.
However, the number is much higher in vans and large trucks, with tire blowouts occurring in 22 percent of these vehicles.
As to why there is such a large discrepancy between cars and larger vehicles, much of it has to do with the fact that vans and large trucks are carrying cargo or other items that have them weighted down.
When tires are subjected to extremely heavyweight loads from cargo and the tires are underinflated, older, or encounter an object in the road that tears at the rubber, a blowout can result.
On average, one in every 270 auto crashes involves a tire blowout being one of if not the primary cause of the accident.
Along with vans and large trucks, SUVs are also prone to tire blowouts, especially if their tires had issues prior to a crash, such as being underinflated or old.
In a study of U.S. vehicle accidents, 45% of SUV rollover accidents had a tire blowout being one of the primary factors, versus only 25% for cars, pickup trucks, and vans in the study.
For many drivers, tire blowouts could possibly be prevented if they simply checked their tire pressure on a regular basis.
In a National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey, nearly 10% of more than 2 million crashes involved tire blowouts that were caused by underinflation.
What To Do if You Experience a Tire Blowout
Since tire blowouts are so much more uncommon with today’s vehicles than they were as recently as the 1970s, most of today’s drivers have no idea what to do if they find themselves experiencing a tire blowout while behind the wheel of their vehicle.
Surprisingly to most drivers, hitting the brakes is the last thing you want to do when you have a tire blowout.
Although this will be your natural instinct, hitting the brakes with all your might will only make the situation worse, since you are likely to lose further control of your vehicle.
Rather than braking, experts recommend you keep one foot on the accelerator of your vehicle.
However, don’t give your vehicle too much gas.
Rather, press the accelerator very gently while you are also steering in the opposite direction of the blowout.
By using this defensive driving technique, you can let your vehicle maintain a certain degree of momentum until it can begin to stabilize itself following the tire blowout.
When you are in the midst of a tire blowout, your primary concern should be to not crash into other vehicles, since this could lead to you or others being seriously injured or killed.
Thus, as soon as you start to feel your vehicle stabilize, gradually decrease your speed and look for a safe spot to pull over.
If your car’s speed is down to 30 miles per hour or less, you can then switch your attention to applying the brakes.
But just as you did with the accelerator, this should also be done very gently.
Once you’re off the road, remember to turn on your vehicle’s hazard lights, then get out of your vehicle and move to an area that is safe, where you can then call for help.
Even though you and your vehicle may be off the road, that does not mean someone could not still come along and hit your vehicle.
Therefore, make exiting your vehicle as quickly as possible a top priority.
Can You Drive on a Blown-Out Tire?
When you experience a blown-out tire, the good news is that you can still drive your vehicle.
However, you can drive it for only a very short distance, perhaps a few hundred yards at best.
If you try to go beyond this distance, chances are you will severely damage your wheel and other parts of your car.
Also, you may create an unsafe situation on the road that results in a serious and possibly life-threatening crash.
Should you try to continue driving a long distance after a tire blowout, you will have far less control of how your car will handle on the road. Also, along with damaging the wheel, plan on also damaging your car’s suspension, steering, brakes, alignment, and other components.
Thus, while you may think you and your car can “limp” to your mechanic, it’s best to admit defeat, pull over on the side of the road, and call a tow truck to get you the rest of the way.
When you experience a tire blowout, it’s very important to remember that while you may think rubber from a tire cannot harm your car, that is not the case.
If you were traveling at 50-60 miles per hour when your tire blew out, chunks of rubber can easily fly up and strike your windshield, windows, or other areas of your car.
Since this can make an already harrowing experience even more stressful and dangerous, it is best for you to resist the urge to drive as if you are a race-car driver and think you can get around the flying debris on the road.
So while you may be able to navigate an additional 100-200 yards or so to safety, don’t try to be a hero.
Instead, play it safe, get your car off the road, and call on the professionals to assess the situation and take it from there.
Protecting Your Tires
Tire protection starts with good driving habits.
Check all your mirrors, so you’ve got a clear view behind you.
Then, clean off the inside and outside of the window. Don’t pull out of the driveway unless you’ve got a crystal clear view of the road.
Pay attention to where you’re going at all times. It’s almost impossible to puncture your tires if you’re not driving over sharp objects. You may still encounter something, eventually.
But, you can definitely prevent many punctures with attentive driving.
Use Properly-Sized Equipment
Replace all your tires at the same time. Then, realign the front end of your car. Make sure all the tires are of the same size.
Check the back of your manual to figure out what’s the right size for yours.