You’re driving in the highway’s fast lane when you hear something explode underneath you. The car starts to pull to the side without you moving the wheel. You’re losing control. And your life depends on what you do next, so you’d better keep watching.
A tire blowout happens when there’s a rapid loss of air pressure in the tire. It can lead you to lose control of the vehicle and cause a massive crash. In the U.S., there is an average of 11,000 tire-related motor vehicle crashes every year, causing 200 deaths.
But you’re not going to be one of them. Why shouldn’t you hit the brakes? Why are your tires most vulnerable in the spring? And how could a clock save your life?
Step 1. Stay in your lane
If your tire has blown out, it’s crucial to steer forward. Do not try to change lanes. In December 2020, in Florida, a 21-year-old woman was driving in the highway’s outside lane when one of the car’s tires suffered a blowout. Another car was driving in her lane, so she changed lanes and crashed into the median guardrail.
The car rotated back into the inside lane, and another vehicle hit it. Then the woman’s car caught on fire. She was hospitalized in serious condition, and her car was so badly damaged it was unrecognizable.
Step 2. Check your tire pressure
A study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) determined that if the tire pressure is 25% too low, the vehicle is three times more likely to be involved in a crash than vehicles with properly inflated tires. And if the air pressure inside your tire is off, it can cause the tire to blow out. Also, keeping your tires properly inflated can save you up to 9 cents per gallon of gasoline. So it’s not a bad idea to get your tires’ pressure checked.
Step 3. Don’t hit the brakes
When a tire blows out and you’re losing control of the vehicle, you might be tempted to hit the brakes to prevent an accident. But if you do that, you will make the situation a lot worse. Slamming on the brakes when a tire has blown out can cause your car to flip. Instead, gently press the gas pedal. A blown-out tire causes resistance, so as you press the gas lightly, you’ll keep your forward momentum. Once you’re in control of your car again, you can ease off the gas.
Step 4. Hold on to the wheel
Once your tire bursts, there is not much you can do. It doesn’t matter which tire blows out. The difference might be how you’ll feel it. In a front tire blowout, you will feel the force more in the vehicle’s steering. When a rear tire blows out, you will feel it more in the seat or body of the vehicle. But regardless of what tire has blown, you’ll need to hold tight to the steering wheel to try to regain control of the car. Imagine your wheel is a clock and keep your hands at the two and 10 positions.
Step 5. Beware of the spring
Paying attention to air temperatures could help prevent your tires from blowing out. When the weather changes, particularly from cold to warm temps, it can negatively affect your car’s tires. The warmer weather can deflate your car’s tires, which puts you at risk of a blowout. You should never neglect tire maintenance, especially as the spring gets near.
- “Tires | NHTSA”. 2021. NHTSA.
- “Safety And Savings Ride On Your Tires | NHTSA”. NHTSA.
- “NHTSA study finds underinflated and worn tires increase likelihood of crash”. 2021. consumerreports.org.
- “Woman, 21, escapes crash with serious injuries after tire blowout in Pasco County”. wfla.com.
- “Iowa DOT urging folks to check their tire pressures to prevent blowouts on the roads”. Alaina, Kwan. 2021. KWWL.