Tire blowouts are more common than you might think. Estimates range from more than 30,000 to more than 75,000 accidents happen each year from a tire blowout, and that doesn’t even account for people that manage to safely get to the side of the road without causing an accident.
The good news is that with some preparation, you can know exactly what to do if you have a tire blowout while driving and avoid an accident. Not only that, but with a few safety precautions, you can also dramatically reduce the chances that your vehicle will have a tire blowout to begin with.
So by reading this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know about this common and potentially dangerous condition.
Let’s get started.
What To Do if You Have a Tire Blowout
If you’re driving a vehicle that has a tire blowout, you need to know what to do. That’s why we wanted to start out by walking you through what to do if you have a tire blowout while you’re driving.
This might be the hardest thing to do when you have a tire blowout, but it’s the most important. If you stay calm, you can think through the situation better and do what you need to do to avoid an accident.
But if you lose your cool, it’s more likely that you’ll do something you shouldn’t, and you can turn a tire blowout into a full-blown accident or something worse.
Don’t Hit the Brakes
When one of your tires blows out, the first thing you want to do is stop your vehicle. While that makes sense in our head, it’s actually the exact opposite of what you should do.
You need to gain control of your vehicle, and hitting the brakes as soon as the tire blows can actually lead you to lock up the wheels and lose complete control of your vehicle. Stay off the brakes and you and your vehicle will be in far better shape.
You want to get off to the side of the road and stop driving, but you need to regain control of your vehicle before you start trying to get to the side of the road. Keep the steering wheel straight and wait until you get control of your vehicle before trying to get to the side of the road.
Even after you have complete control of your vehicle, try to avoid sharp turns if at all possible. This puts more force on the wheels and increases the chances of locking up the wheels and losing control of your vehicle.
This seems like the exact opposite of what you should do, but it goes a long way in helping you regain control of your vehicle. The key here is to accelerate gently. This helps you regain your forward momentum and regain control of your current trajectory.
Once you feel that the vehicle is back under your control, stop accelerating. This should only take a second or two, so don’t keep accelerating until you’re flying down the road!
Let Off the Gas
Once you have control of your vehicle again it’s time to start slowing down. Try to do this without using the brakes. Let off the gas and let your vehicle naturally decelerate.
This dramatically reduces the chances of you locking up the wheels when you’re trying to get your vehicle safely to the side of the road.
Turn On Your Emergency Lights
Now that you have control of your vehicle, it’s time to turn on your emergency lights. These lights let other drivers on the road know you’re experiencing a problem – and give you a little space to work everything out.
It’ll also help them understand why you’re slowing down as you’re driving down the road. The lights are how you communicate with other drivers, and it’s an important step you don’t want to overlook.
Get to the Side of the Road
Now it’s time to start trying to get to the side of the road. You don’t need to do it all at once though. In fact, you want to try to get over as slowly as you can. The straighter you can keep the wheels during the entire process, the safer it is, so don’t think you need to cut across all the lanes of traffic right away.
Try to get over to the shoulder, and once you’re there, keep decelerating. Once you’re over on the shoulder, you don’t have to worry about other drivers as much either, making it a real win-win once you get there.
Finally Hit the Brakes
Once you get to the side of the road and get your speed down to about 30 miles per hour, it’s time for you to hit the brakes a little bit to reach your final stop. But keep in mind even at this point, you don’t want to just slam on the brakes.
Gently hit them and try to control your slowdown as much as possible. Keep gently hitting the brakes until you completely stop your vehicle. Keep the flashers on at this point.
Change the Tire
Once you have stopped your vehicle on the side of the road, it’s time to take the necessary steps to fix the problem. If your vehicle has a spare tire, this is the time to swap it out, and we recommend keeping the flashers on if you’re working on the side of the road.
Moreover, if your vehicle has a warning triangle, you should move back along the roadway and put it out to give other drivers an advanced warning that you’re working up there. If your vehicle doesn’t have a warning triangle you should get one now to prepare for future emergencies.
If you don’t have a spare tire or you don’t know how to change the tire out yourself, now is the time to call someone to help you out.
Tips To Help Prevent a Tire Blowout
Now that you know what to do if you have a tire blowout, it’s time to learn how to avoid a tire blowout in the first place. Because while it’s a common problem, most of the time, tire blowouts are completely preventable with some easy-to-follow maintenance tips.
Keep Up With Tire Pressure
Underinflated tires are one of the primary culprits for tire blowouts. Tires without a high enough air pressure make more contact with the road, and this excessive contact causes the tire to heat up more than it should.
If it gets too hot, which is more common when traveling at higher speeds, there’s a good chance for a tire blowout. At a minimum, you should check your tire pressure once a month or whenever there’s an extreme temperature swing in your area.
You don’t need to spend a ton or hit up a gas station every time you need to check the tire pressure either. A low-cost tire pressure gauge is all you need to have to easily and quickly check your tire pressure on a consistent basis.
Inspect the Tires
When you’re checking the tire pressure, do yourself a favor and inspect the tires. Inspect both the tread and the sidewall of the tires. If there’s damage to the sidewall, you should replace them, and if the tread is less than 2/32”, you need to replace them too.
This minimum tread depth is across the entire tire. While you still might get decent traction if it’s more than that across most of the tire, that lower portion will continue to wear down, which can cause a blowout if it gets too low.
Replace Your Tires
While you need to replace your tires if the tread depth gets too low or if there’s damage to the sidewall, that’s not the only time you should replace the tires. You also need to replace the tires once they’re ten years old, regardless of tread depth or potential damage.
That’s because the rubber compounds in a tire break down over time, and if they break down too far, the tire can fail. But keep in mind it’s the age of the tire, not when you put it on your vehicle.
You can check the age of the tire by looking at the sidewall. You’ll find a four-digit number in a circle that tells you the tire’s age. The last two digits tell you the manufacturer made the tires, while the first two numbers tell the week of the year.
For instance, the number 2318 means the manufacturer made the tire in the 23rd week of 2018. So, by the 23rd week of 2028, you should replace the tire.
Now that you know a little more about what to do if you have a tire blowout, you can hit the road with confidence. Just keep checking your tires to reduce the chances of having a blowout in the first place, and if you do have one, stay calm since you know what to do.