What Is a Tire Blow Out, and How Do I Handle One?

A tire blowout can be a scary situation if it happens to you on the highway. Knowing what causes a blowout and how to respond if one happens can keep you safe while on the road. According to the NHTSA, tire issues cause around 11,000 highway accidents each year. Pay attention to your tires and don't be one of these statistics.

What Is a Tire Blow Out, and What Causes One?

A tire blowout occurs when a car tire bursts while driving and all of the air pressure escapes. While it may sound like a blowout means there is too much pressure in the tire, they are actually caused by the tire pressure being too low. A tire without the proper inflation flexes too much and overheats, causing the rubber to separate from the steel belt inside. A large slice or small puncture, an overweight vehicle, or damage from an impact are other things that may cause a blowout. 

What Should I Do During a Tire Blow Out?

If your tire blows out while you are traveling at high speeds on the highway, here is what you should do.

  1. Try and remain calm. If you panic, you could make the situation even worse.

  2. Don't slam on the brakes or you may lose control. Instead, keep accelerating to maintain stability. 

  3. Use the steering wheel to keep your vehicle in its lane.

  4. Turn on your vehicle's hazard lights.

  5. Slowly decrease your speed at a controlled rate.

  6. Safely make your way to the shoulder.

Once you get yourself safely off the road, you need to change the tire before you can get back on the highway. If you've never changed the tire before, consult your vehicle's manual for instructions or call a roadside service company for assistance.

How Do I Prevent a Tire Blow Out?

While you can't prevent a blowout caused by a sudden tire puncture, there are a few ways to minimize the risk of one happening. The most important thing you can do is maintain proper tire pressure. Most cars come equipped with a low tire light that can alert you if you have low pressure, so always pay attention to this.

Your tires should say their minimum and maximum pressure on them. There should also be a chart on the inside of the door frame or in your owner's manual. Fill the tires to this recommended level and make sure the pressure is even across all of the tires; otherwise, uneven wear can occur. 

Check the tread on the tires as well. Tires with worn-out tread are more susceptible to a puncture or tear. One easy way to do this is with the penny test. Place a penny between the treads with Abe's hair facing the tire. If you can see all of his head, your tread is too low and it is time to replace your tires. If only part of his head is visible, your tread is fine. 

Safely Navigate a Tire Blow Out

Always make sure your tires are properly inflated to help prevent a blowout. If one does happen, remaining calm will help you through the situation. If you want to learn how to navigate other things that may occur while on the road, sign up for driving lessons through DriversEd.com. Our courses can help you become a better driver by teaching you the basic fundamentals and more. 

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