As seasons change and temperatures rise, so do the number of tire blowouts around the country. The truth is a blowout can happen anywhere and at any time. Tire failures put drivers in an unexpected, frightening and dangerous situation. And, while it’s an experience no motorist wishes to endure, it’s important to understand how to react when and if it happens.
Most tire blowouts happen from mid-May through early October, according to tire safety experts at Nokian Tyres. This is the time when the outside temperatures are warmest and drivers are traveling longer distances. However, a tire may fail at any time due to factors such as improperly repaired punctures, impact damage, improper inflation and overloading.
Properly controlling a vehicle when a tire failure occurs is key to minimizing damage to the vehicle. When a tire blows out, you may hear a loud noise, feel a vibration and/or the vehicle may pull toward the side of the failed tire. If this occurs, it’s important to keep the following tips in mind:
1. Remain calm and control the vehicle
Staying calm may seem like an unrealistic expectation, especially when something as scary as a tire blowout is occurring, but you will be doing yourself a favor by keeping a straight head and handling the situation in a composed manner. Here’s how:
- Gently remove your foot from the accelerator and let the vehicle slow down gradually.
- Keep your hands firmly on the steering wheel and guide the vehicle straight ahead. The tires are going to try to pull toward one side, but it’s extremely important not to turn the car.
- Pull over to the shoulder and come to a complete stop.
2. Make yourself visible to other drivers
If possible, try to pull over with the damaged tire facing away from traffic. This will make it easier and safer to observe and replace the tire. It is vital to make you and your vehicle visible to other drivers on the road. Once the vehicle has safely come to a complete stop, turn on the emergency flashers and observe your surroundings. If the road conditions are safe, exit the vehicle, put out reflective cones, if available, and assess the situation.
3. Observe the damage
If one or more of the tires looks flat, low, or shows detachment or other damage, remove the tire assembly and replace it with a properly inflated spare. Bumps or bulges in a tire may indicate detachment within the tire body and require inspection by a qualified tire technician.
4. Replace the damaged tire
Check the vehicle’s owner’s manual to find where the spare tire and necessary tools to change it are stored. If you don’t know how to switch the tire, call for roadside assistance. It’s important not to drive on the flat tire. Not only is this extremely dangerous, but it can also do more harm to your vehicle requiring costly repairs. Keep in mind that spare tires are only recommended for emergency situations and should not be driven on for long distances or at high speeds.
While tire blowouts are not 100 percent avoidable, taking proactive steps to ensure your tires are well maintained can help decrease the chances of damage. Nokian Tyres’ experts recommend taking precautions such as:
- Check tire pressure at least once a month
- Avoid driving on underinflated or overinflated tires
- Avoid overloading a vehicle
- Avoid driving over potholes and curbs
- Drive at moderate speeds to decrease the chance of a tire failing
Most importantly, a driver’s response to a tire blowout has the potential to make a huge difference in how the situation is resolved. Remaining calm and following the steps above will get you safely back on the road.
The Nokian Tyres website offers in-depth tire safety tips to help drivers tackle every road with confidence. Visit https://www.nokiantires.com/innovation/safety/tire-safety/ for more useful advice.