how to handle a blown tire
A blown tire can shake even the most seasoned driver. But a little monthly maintenance and this handy guide can prepare you for one. We'll explain how to handle a tire blowout and why it may have happened in the first place.
Handling a tire blowout
If it's a front-wheel blowout, you may feel the car jerk towards the blown tire. A rear-tire blowout will likely be felt in the seat or the body of the car.
Either way, a sudden tire blowout calls for swift, calm action in order to keep the car balanced and controlled.
- Turn on your hazards (if it's safe to take a hand off the wheel).
- Grip the wheel with both hands and steer in the direction you want to go.
- Slow down by releasing the accelerator at a steady pace.
- Eye a safe place to pull over and head in that direction. Anywhere away from speeding traffic is a good bet.
- Panic (admittedly easier said than done).
- Slam on the brakes or release the accelerator too quickly (it could destabilize your car's balance even more).
- Stop in traffic.
Once you're safely on the side of the road, call your emergency road service provider. If you don't have one and you need assistance, call 911.
Preventable culprits of tire blowouts
Not all tire blowouts are preventable, but here are some maintenance factors you can control more than a fresh pothole.
Driving on underinflated tires (in addition to decreasing your fuel efficiency) causes the tires' sidewalls to flex more, heating the air temperature inside the tire itself. This excess heat increases stress to the tires, which over time could lead to tire failure.
Solution: Prevent underinflation by keeping an eye on your tires and periodically checking the tire pressure. Your owner's manual will tell you the recommended PSI.
Putting too much air in your tires makes them more susceptible to blowouts, especially if you hit a curb or pothole.
Solution: You can avoid overinflation by watching the PSI as you fill each tire with air. And remember: stick to the recommended tire pressure.
Carrying too much weight in the car
If you've ever driven uphill with a trunk full of stuff, you know that adding extra weight makes it harder for your car to go. Similarly, putting more things (and people) in your car can add extra stress on the tires (and who wants stressed out tires?).
Solution: Stay under your car's weight limit, which you can find in your owner's manual.
Avoiding accidents after tire blowouts
It's easy to take 4 good tires for granted. But they can pop or go flat on you in an instant. The key is to handle the immediate aftermath calmly — your initial reaction can go a long way towards preventing a car accident.
How to fix a flat
Read our step-by-step guide to popping on the spare.