Tire Blowouts Are Rarer but More Dangerous
For many drivers, there’s nothing more frightening or potentially dangerous than a tire blowout – at almost any speed. While the number of tire-related crashes has dropped dramatically since all new vehicles have been required to have automatic tire-pressure monitoring systems, there are still nearly 11,000 collisions and 200 fatalities each year due to blowouts and tire issues.
With all the advances in safety standards and technology, why are tire blowouts still such a significant safety issue? One reason may be that, although blowouts are now a rarer occurrence, when they do happen, drivers are less prepared to handle them and to react properly. When a tire blows out, it can take about a quarter of a second before your ride suddenly turns into a struggle to avoid an auto accident. How you react can make all the difference in how the situation plays out.
How to Handle a Blowout
The first step is to stay calm and in control of your vehicle. Your natural reaction is to slow down quickly and try to get off the road, but that is exactly the wrong thing to do. With a rear-tire failure, turning at high speed will likely result in a spin and a bad crash.
According to the National Safety Council and other safety experts, here are the best practices to remember if you experience a tire blowout:
– Keep a firm grip on the steering wheel.
– Do not slam on the brakes.
– Let your car slow down gradually.
– Pull to the side of the road once you have slowed to a safe speed.
– Activate your emergency flashers.
What to Do After a Blowout
Exit your vehicle only if you are certain you are safely off the road and out of harm’s way. Once you’ve turned on your emergency flashers to alert other drivers, put out reflective cones or triangles if you have them. If it isn’t safe to change the tire where you are, or if you are unsure how to do it, call for roadside assistance.
Also keep in mind that a spare is only recommended for emergencies and should not be driven for long distances or at high speeds. Take the time to read your owner’s manual to learn the location of your spare tire and the necessary tools. Your manual may also provide instructions on how to change a flat tire. It is a good idea to be familiar with these procedures before you get stuck on the side of the road.
How to Prevent a Blowout
The good news is that many tire blowouts are preventable with the proper effort and attention. Most occur from May through October when the road surface is the hottest, and result from an underinflated tire, excessively worn treads, or an overloaded vehicle. A simple, routine inspection of your tires to check for slow leaks, wear and tear, and proper pressure is important. Keeping your load within the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations (found in the same spot as the recommended tire pressure) can help too.
As summer heats up, tire blowouts increase. Some flat tires are the result of plain bad luck, but many flats and blowouts can be avoided with a little knowledge and some minimal routine maintenance.
Check Your Pressure
Most blowouts are caused by too little air pressure, which allows the tire to flex beyond its elastic limits until it overheats to the point at which the rubber loses its bond to the internal fabric and steel cord reinforcement. It is important to check your vehicle’s tire pressure (including the spare) at least once a month, for the following reasons:
– Most tires may naturally lose air over time.
– Tires can lose air suddenly if you drive over a pothole or other object or if you hit the curb when parking.
– With radial tires, it isn’t usually possible to determine underinflation by looking at the tire.
Inspect Your Tires
Examine the tires after any sort of trauma. If you hit a curb or pothole or run over an object in the street, take the time to inspect your tires. If you notice any irregularities, please contact us. Also, make sure your tire valves have valve caps.
Check Your Tread
In general, tires become unsafe and should be replaced when the tread is worn down to 1/16 inch. An easy method for checking tread depth is to place a penny in the tread with Lincoln’s head upside down and facing you. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, you’re ready for new tires.
Avoid Driving Near Construction Sites and Other Hazardous Roadways
Highway construction projects increase in the summer, and so do opportunities for flats caused by construction debris. Although construction zones are sometimes unavoidable, try to take alternate routes and to bypass roads that are not well maintained. Nails, metal shards, glass, and large potholes can all cause punctures and flats. Whenever possible, avoid driving on the highway shoulder, which can be full of sharp rocks and debris from car accidents.
Don’t Overload Your Car or Truck
Take a look at the sidewall of your tire. There should be a maximum load rating printed near the center. Keep this number in mind while you’re loading your car or truck and never exceed it. Overloaded tires undergo greater heat and friction and are far more likely to fail. If you are towing a trailer, remember that some of the weight of the loaded trailer is transferred to the towing vehicle.
If you need new tires, we can help. We have very competitive pricing on tires and even match Costco’s pricing too! Please give us a call at (866) 822-9314 for more information.