What’s scarier than things that go bump in the night? Tires that go “POW” in the day. We’re talking about tire blowouts. If you’ve never experienced one, consider yourself very lucky. These are among the most dangerous things that can happen to the everyday driver.
Today, we’ll teach you about tire blowouts. More importantly, we’ll tell you what the common causes are for a tire blowout and what you can do to prevent this driving nightmare. Let’s get started with a quick definition.
What is a Tire Blowout?
A tire blowout is probably the worst thing that can happen to your tire. A massive loss of pressure occurs across the tire and can rip a sizable hole through the rubber.
In some cases, a tire will blow out to the point that there’s barely any rubber near your rims and that’s it. Have you ever driven on the road and seen a flattened strip of rubber on the shoulder? A driver probably had a blowout and that’s the aftermath.
There is no patching a blowout, obviously. The only solution is to get a brand-new tire. In many cases, the damage is a lot worse and involves more replacement within your wheel well.
How Does a Blowout Even Happen?
Your vehicle rides on pneumatic tires. This means that they’re full of pressurized air to give you a comfortable ride and strong performance.
Your tires are the only part of your car in contact with the road – unless you have an ultra-lowered car that scrapes while you drive, but that’s another problem altogether. Since your tires have to do all the work of supporting your car, there are a lot of risks.
As we talk about the different causes, a lot of them come back to this concept. Imagine your tires are like balloons with really thick walls. If you hit a regular balloon with a knife, it will quickly pop. The same is true if the balloon is really old and you squeeze it. These principles of physics are the big reasons why your tires will blow out.
In the following section, you’ll learn some different causes for a blowout, and we’ll tell you some tips to prevent one altogether.
Causes for a Tire Blowout
Keep in mind, this isn’t a complete list of what might cause a blowout, just some of the more common causes. We’ll tell you what they are and how to prevent them.
Too Much Weight
Tires are only rated to support so much weight. Overloading your car will send you above the weight limit of your tires.
This essentially means that your tires are seeing more stress than they can handle and something’s going to fail. In most cases, it’s whatever tire is worn the most or has the most defects or damage.
Solution: Check your owner’s manual and tire guide to see what the weight limit is for your car. If you’re not sure, err on the side of caution and avoid overloading your car.
When there’s a puncture in your tire, it might not blowout immediately. Truthfully, you might not even realize what’s going on. It’s common for someone to run over a nail and not notice for a few days or weeks. All the while, the air is seeping out around the nail and weakening your tire.
In some cases, parts of your tire will bubble. This is a clear indication that a blowout is on the horizon. If you don’t get the puncture patched before bubbles and tire degradation start, you’ll have to replace the tire. Driving on structurally-weakened tires can lead to a blowout.
Solution: Always check the health of your tires. If you notice a puncture, patch it (if possible) as soon as you’re able. If you notice tire damage, immediately replace the tire.
If you don’t properly rotate your tires, you might think nothing of it. This leads to uneven wear on your tread which means your tires aren’t uniform. It also means that unnecessary stress is being added to one or two of your tires.
As we detailed above, stress leads to blowouts. The tire with the least tread is the most likely subject for a blowout.
Solution: Rotate your tires routinely and replace tires that are unevenly worn.
Low Air in Your Tires
A common misconception is that underinflating your tires will lower your chance of a blowout. In fact, the opposite is true.
Underinflated tires are subjected to extra pressure on the sides of the tire. The sidewalls are a lot thinner than the section of tread that hits the road.
Weak spots will start to build up along the walls of your tires. Eventually, this can lead to a blowout.
Solution: Check your tire pressure regularly with a pressure gauge and make sure you maintain your manufacturer’s suggested PSI in all four tires.
Just like anything else in your car – the older your tires are, the higher the chance is of them failing. When you’re talking about tires, you need to know that rubber doesn’t last forever. The material itself will degrade over time.
This process is sped up as tires go through the daily beatings of driving and supporting your car. We suggest considering a replacement every six years, regardless of the tread health.
Not sure what year your tires were made? Look for a four-digit number on the side of your tire. The last two digits will be the year it was fabricated.
Solution: Change your tires every six years or so.
A Nasty Pothole
Nothing wipes the smile from a driver’s face faster than hitting a nasty pothole. Well, except maybe the noise and feeling of a blowout directly after hitting one.
A pothole can wreak havoc in your tires in two different ways: Either it immediately blows out your tire due to a sharp edge and puncture, or it plays the long game. A pothole can cause defects to your tire that aren’t immediately noticeable.
Just like a nail in the tire, these defects get worse over time and can lead to a sudden blowout down the line.
Solution: If you survive a pothole, check your tires when you finally park. Keep a close eye on them over the following days and replace any tires that show noticeable damage.
Damage from the Road
General damage from the road can also lead to a pothole. This can refer to uneven payment, debris, glass, or large objects on the road. If you like to take corners way too sharp, this could also refer to hitting a curb.
At any rate, these damages will affect your car just like a pothole. Either the tire will immediately blow out or leak air, or it will sustain damage that wears it down over time.
Solution: Check your tires routinely. Look at the tire pressure and overall health of each tire.
Tire blowouts can be one of the scariest things to happen to a driver. We just reviewed some causes of tire blowouts and what you can do to avoid these big problems. For more tips to keep your car driving forever, check out our guide and make sure you have the right tools and accessories for your car.