Tire Blowout: Common Causes and How To Prevent Them

Tire Blowout: Common Causes and How To Prevent Them

A tire blowout is one of the most frightening nightmares for any driver. This can happen anytime and anywhere, especially when driving at high speed. As no driver is 100% protected from this risk, we thought it would be useful to explore this topic in more detail. In this section, we will discuss the causes leading to tire blowouts and what are the possible steps to prevent such an outcome.

Indeed, we cannot completely rule out the risk of a tire blowout. But, the curious thing is that we can minimize the risks that lead to a potential one. We will also analyze the tire's symptoms that suggest an imminent risk for a blowout. Last but not least, we will learn what to do and how to manage the situation if we face one.

What Is a Tire Blowout?

We can describe the tire blowout as sudden and severe damage to the tire as a result of which it instantly loses air. This resembles an explosion of the tire, after which it disintegrates and can no longer be used afterward.

Many might confuse a tire blowout with a flat tire. While they have some common aspects, they are still 2 different phenomena. A flat tire is more about gradual air loss. In most cases, the air leaks out slowly after a puncture or another tire damage. Usually, it does not present an increased risk to the driver's safety. The vehicle's TPMS informs the driver about the tire pressure drop, giving him time to adjust the pressure or repair the tire to eliminate the small problem.

Speaking of tire blowout, the scenario is much more dramatic. The tire explodes in a split second, which often happens especially at high speed. This can destabilize the vehicle and cause the driver to lose control of it. The loud boom and sudden air loss can endanger the driver's safety and those around him, while the tire integrity is too damaged to be repaired. 

Factors That Lead to Tire Blowout

Road Hazards

Regardless of the reason that leads to tire blowout, the subsequent tire use is unacceptable. This is because the integrity of the tire is much too affected not only on the surface but also inside it. One of the leading causes of a tire blowout is road hazards. That is, the tire passes over a certain sharp object or aggressive potholes

Here we also refer to tire punctures, nails, or cuts. While not directly, they also contribute to a potential blowout. The tire loses its integrity whenever it is subjected to these risks, which makes it sensitive to heat build-up or simply to road hazards.

Extra Load

The tires are naturally highly resistant to stress and load. Obviously, each of them has a certain load rating and we should not exceed its limit. However, if the driver operates the vehicle with too much cargo exceeding the limit of the UTQG rating, the tire is highly likely to fail sooner or later. Add to this the additional heat to which an overloaded tire is exposed at high speed and the probability of a blowout becomes even higher.

In this sense, it is worth reminding you how important it is not to exceed the manufacturer's recommendations regarding load and speed ratings. Try to not overpack the vehicle to avoid the strenuous effort on your tires. Or, you can otherwise equip your car with tires with lighter load ratings so that these can withstand the stress without too many risks.

Tire Pressure

Tire pressure is an essential aspect that contributes to vehicle performance and driver safety in various conditions. Surprisingly, pressure can also contribute to blowout risk. Many drivers mistakenly believe that tire overinflation is more likely to lead to a blowout. But, it's actually the underinflation that increases this risk even more. Let me explain this.

A tire with too little pressure in it is more flexible than it should be. Its sidewalls bend due to low PSI which puts more rubber on the road surface. Consequently, more rubber on the road means more friction during rolling. In addition, the tire tends to accumulate more heat, especially at higher speeds, and all these aspects together make the tire explode due to excessive heat build-up.

Either way, neither too much nor too little PSI is healthy for tire integrity. Specialists encourage drivers to maintain the pressure at the level recommended by the manufacturers. Namely, this level ensures optimal performance and security.

Lack of Risk Awareness

I catalog other contributing factors in this section because they all relate to the drivers' irresponsibility. These include aggressive driving style, overestimating tires' capabilities, and poor tire maintenance. A driver who does not control his aggressive driving style, especially on irregular and bad road sections, is more likely to undergo a tire blowout.

In the same sense, many drivers do not take into account the capabilities of their tires. This means that they expose them to excessive efforts by far exceeding the speed and temperature ratings. For example, a U-speed-rated tire is prone to blowout if the driver squeezes all the potential out of it at speeds over 150 mph. It is obvious that the effort is too great for this tire because its technical capabilities are limited to 124 mph. So the probability of a severe tire failure is imminent.

Likewise, poor tire maintenance also increases the risk of a blowout. This mainly refers to pressure adjustment, wheel alignment, and timely rotation. Ignoring these leads to irregular and premature tire wear. This means that the tire becomes sensitive to road hazards and may not withstand heat build-up.

How To Manage A Tire Blowout?

Tire blowouts are more likely at high speed. However, this does not mean that they cannot occur at low speeds. So, the first thing to remember is that tire blowouts can occur anytime, anywhere.

The driver's reaction at this moment is essential to control the issue. Instead of panicking, you have to find the strength to get yourself together. Easier said than done, I know. But you have to understand that you have no other solution. You are the only one who can control the situation through a calm and organized attitude. Once you get a grip on yourself, here is what you need to do...

Tips For Handling A Tire Blowout

Tire blowout symptoms might be different, depending on the axle on which the tire failed. As a rule, a front blowout makes the vehicle swerve toward the side of the failed tire. Conversely, the car might shimmy back and forth following a rear blowout. Either way, this is not what you have to think about when a blowout occurs. Instead, it would be great to keep calm and not let fear take control of the situation.

Regardless of the type of damage, you will hear an aggressive boom when the tire loses air all of a sudden. This will be followed by a flapping sound that occurs due to the poor condition of the tire. At this moment, driving might become chaotic and this is where you have to prove total control and focus.

First of all, firmly hold the steering wheel with both hands and gently point it towards the side of the road for a safe stop, if possible. Avoid aggressive manners because you could destabilize the vehicle even more.

At this moment, you will probably think about slamming the brakes for a full stop. But this strategy is not the right one. You better manage the imbalance of the vehicle by pushing gently on the accelerator to regain control. After the blowout, the vehicle will naturally lose speed. Slamming the brakes will only put excessive force on the car front, which might destabilize it even more. Conversely, easy and gentle acceleration will allow you to swing your speed towards a gradual and safe braking.

Once you feel that you regain control of the vehicle, you can adjust the speed by gentle and intermittent braking. Direct the vehicle towards the berth if possible where you will find a safe place to stop.

Finally, find the right moment to activate your hazard light and use the road hazard corner once you fully stop. This is even more important during the evening when visibility is reduced. 

How To Prevent A Tire Blowout?

No one can exclude the risk of a tire blowout. However, at least we can minimize this risk with the help of some preventive measures. These are not rocket science and only depend on the responsibility and conscience of each driver. So, here's what you can do to increase the chances of safe driving, with minimum blowout potential.

Ensure Appropriate Pressure for Your Tires

Drivers should check tire pressure regularly, at least once a month. The pressure tends to decrease or increase for various reasons. Osmosis or temperature fluctuations are just some of them. Checking the pressure regularly allows you to adjust the level whenever there are deviations. Consequently, the tire is more protected against premature and uneven wear and is less prone to a potential blowout due to heat build-up.

Matter-of-factly, the right pressure is important not only to prevent blowouts. This contributes to the vehicle's fuel consumption as well as driving safety. Official statistics suggest that about 20% of car accidents across the US are caused by tire pressure issues.

Inspect the Tire Condition Regularly

The tire becomes more sensitive to blowout if its integrity is affected. You have to make sure that your tires are in a healthy condition and for that, you should inspect them regularly. it is not necessary to visit a tire shop every time. You can do it yourself.

Look for symptoms that would suggest potential tire damage. Cuts, punctures, bubbles, uneven wear spots - all make the tire more sensitive to damage and increase the probability of a blowout. if you detect early signs of tire damage, consult a specialist to find repair solutions.

Respect Your Tire Ratings

Here I mainly refer to speed and load ratings. Specialists in the field recommend against overloading the tires in order to avoid a potential tire failure. The same is valid for speed ratings. We do not encourage spirited driving if your tires are not capable enough for it.

In the same sense, we recommend opting for suitable tires that are capable enough for your needs. If you are a spirited driver, you need tires with a high-speed rating, for example - S, T, U, and higher. Don't expect an F-rated tire to resist heat build-up as well as a U-rated one. Choose your tires according to your driving style and avoid squeezing out of them the potential that they can barely cope with.

The same goes for the tire load ratings. It's not critical if you carry a few extra pounds once in a while. But don't turn this into daily normality because your tires might simply not resist. Choose your tires taking into account the load you need to carry in your vehicle. The chart below might be helpful in this sense.

Maintain Your Tires Properly

You can extend tire serviceability and increase their resistance through regular maintenance. Here I am referring to regular visits to the mechanic for the following procedures:
- wheel alignment
- timely rotation
- tire balancing

The mechanic, first of all, will take a professional look at the health of your tires. He will inspect their wear and tell you if it is safe to use them further or if it's high time to go for a new set. Secondly, the mechanic will align the wheels and rotate tires if necessary, which extends their life span and driving safety, respectively.

Change Your Tires When They Need Replacement

Many drivers postpone tire replacement for various reasons. Either for budget reasons or simply because they are not aware of the risks, a good part of them do not see a problem driving some few extra thousand miles on worn tires.

The problem is that a worn tire becomes highly vulnerable to damage. It might not resist rolling on sharp debris and can degrade at any time. A flat tire is the least risky scenario that can happen. The worst - a tire blowout.

Apart from the imminent risks of a tire explosion, the worn tread is also detrimental for the following reasons:

  • Less Hydroplaning Control

One of the functions of the tire tread is to efficiently channel water for good traction and stability in wet conditions. A worn tire tread only causes the vehicle to hydroplane, threatening the safety of the driver and his passengers.

  • Less Grip

Tire tread is specially designed to adhere better to the road surface. This is especially valid in winter conditions, where the tread ensures biting properties through ice and snow. A worn-out tread tends to slide rather than grip the road, which again threatens the driver's safety.

  • Excessive Heat Build-up

The tire tread has the role of ventilation, among other roles. That is, the air circulates through the microchambers and tread grooves, ensuring a certain cooling while rolling. In the absence of an integral tread, the tire overheats because there is no airflow to ventilate it. As a result, friction, especially at high speed, generates too much heat with which the tire might not cope. The outcome?- possible tire failure or even a blowout.

So, you have at least 3 reasons to change the tires when the tread is no longer sufficiently viable. You can use the Penny Test to measure the depth of your tread to estimate how healthy your tires are.

Final Notes

These recommendations should help you reduce the risk of a tire blowout. I really hope you never end up going through such an experience. However, you must get familiar with them, just in case.

Remember that the driver's reaction in the first moments following the tire blowout is crucial. Try to stay aware and focused, which will help you restore control over the vehicle.

Tire Blowout: FAQs

Can a Tire Puncture Cause a Blowout?

The short answer is yes, a puncture in a tire can lead to a tire blowout. However, this does not mean that any punctured tire will necessarily cause a blowout. The blowout might occur when the tire damage following a puncture is too great and it keeps being subjected to abuse. Additional friction or keeping driving on an uneven road increases the risk of a potential blowout.

Specialists recommend that drivers take measures when they detect a puncture in their tire. This can be solved by patching, technical service, or tire replacement. Blowouts are also likely without a puncture, for example when the vehicle runs at too high a speed and hits a sharp obstacle or when the tire is in poor condition.

What is The Difference Between a Flat Tire and a Blowout?

If we talk about flat tires, this mainly refers to the gradual loss of tire pressure. The tire can still roll on the road even if this is not recommended. A flat tire is usually caused by punctures that drivers can treat by patching which allows further use. But if we talk about tire blowout, it mostly refers to an explosion through which the air comes out immediately and aggressively. After a blowout, the tire remains rarely usable due to severe damage. In most cases, drivers have to replace the blown-out tire with a new one as it is no longer viable nor safe for further use.

How Bad is a Tire Blowout?

The danger of a tire blowout lies in the fact that drivers can easily lose control of the vehicle. The tire deteriorates so much that the vehicle starts to pull to the right or left or drive chaotically. Unlike tire puncture in which air leakage occurs gradually, the blowout is characterized by sudden and unexpected air loss with subsequent severe tire damage. In most cases, a tire blowout cannot be subject to repair.


Is a Tire Blowout Loud?

Usually yes, but it's not a rule set in stone though. In most cases, a tire blowout generates a pretty loud boom that the driver feels strongly in the cabin. This boom usually confuses the driver and makes him panic. After the boom, the driver usually hears the tire deflating rapidly, which emits a specific sound of air discharge. However, there are other scenarios in which the tire blowout may look different from the scenario above, depending on the severity of the problem.

Can a Tire Blowout At Low Speeds?

Even if less often, a blowout can occur even at a relatively low speed. One of the premises for a tire blowout is its condition. If the tire is in bad condition and its sidewall is compromised, the blowout can even occur when the vehicle is standing still.

Can You Drive on a Blowout?

It is not at all recommended to continue driving following a blowout. The safest thing to do is to slow down gradually to the nearest safe place. The severely damaged tire will not allow you to drive at speed. What you have to do is counter-steer to balance in the direction you want to go until you stop definitively. Don't forget: no brake slamming! You better pull the brakes gradually and intermittently to gain traction. Your goal is to stop on the roadside safe and sound.

Why Trust Us?

While we don't like to brag about our accomplishments, here you have some humble reasons to trust the NeoTires team:

  • we have been in the tire industry for more than 5 years. During this time, we became professionals in this field providing high-quality products and services;
  • our team concentrates experts in the automotive field, qualified mechanics, and trained customer service representatives who work for a common goal: provide top-notch assistance in all tire-related matters;
  • we collaborate with reputable tire brands such as Michelin, Bridgestone, Dunlop, Hankook, etc... with which we establish attractive offers for drivers with various needs and financial possibilities;
  • we have our own technical center where we test, evaluate, and compare tires to provide reliable information and unbiased reviews;
  • we are constantly self-training in this industry to be up-to-date with new technologies;
  • last but not least, tires as well as driving are the passion of every member of the Neotires team. This common asset makes us love our job and provide high-quality service and assistance;
  • our priority is not to sell tires but to offer the right tires for the individual and specific needs of every driver.

So far, these criteria have helped us to establish a beautiful and fruitful relationship with our customers. If you are looking for a team with these values, here we are to help you, just as we helped thousands of existing clients. Drive safe and choose your tires wisely!

Brian Darr is a passion-driven enthusiast who has become an expert in the tire industry. His passion for rubber started with his first driving experience. He firmly believes that the performance and safety of any vehicle are due, first of all, to the quality of the tires mounted on it.
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