You’re driving down a freeway, paying attention to the road ahead. Then – BANG! A sound like a gunshot pierces the air and your car starts to veer. You’ve just experienced a tire blowout. What you do in the following seconds will make a world of difference. Depending on what you do, you may end up with just a simple flat tire, or with your car in a ditch. Read on to learn not only how to safely handle a blowout, but also what you can do to prevent it, and what you should do afterwards.
A tire blowout is a special kind of flat tire. The side wall has ruptured, leaving a huge tear in your tire that cannot be repaired. While many believe that a blown-out tire is caused in part by over inflation, the true culprit is actually the opposite: tires that are underinflated. It’s not the rubber and steel that makes a tire able to carry the weight of a car and its passengers. It is the air. Without enough air, the components inside the tires flex and heat until it all snaps and a blowout occurs. If the car is carrying a heavy load, then the likelihood of a blowout is compounded. This is why it’s important to regularly check tire pressure. The proper pressure for a car’s tires is listed in the driver’s side door jamb.
Another common way to get a flat tire is by driving on very worn, very old tires. After a while the rubber starts to thin, and a blowout becomes more likely. To see if your tires are too worn, use the penny test. Stick the edge of a penny into your tire’s tread so that Abe Lincoln’s head is hidden by the tread. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, then your tires are too worn to drive on. However, if you cannot afford to replace the tire, then try rubbing it with vegetable oil. The oil will moisturize the rubber, allowing it to be more flexible and decrease the chances of a blowout.
What to Do During a Blowout
When your tire blows out, what you absolutely must not do is apply the brake. Because one of your tires is now effectively useless, the brake will be applied unevenly, causing your vehicle to veer. If you’re driving a van or SUV, then it’s quite possible to flip your car by braking during a blowout.
Instead, you need to press on the accelerator after a blowout. This may seem counterintuitive, but when a tire blows out, your car’s speed may suddenly drop due to the drag caused by the flat tire. You must step on the gas for only a moment, so that any cars behind you won’t be surprised by your sudden drop in speed and ram into you.
After you have quickly pressed on the gas, you’ll notice that your car will want to veer in the direction of the blowout. Keep your car steady, let it lose speed gradually, and only when you are going slower than 30 miles per hour should you steer the vehicle to the side of the road.
What to Do After a Blowout
Once you have successfully steered your car to the side of the road, you can start thinking about what steps you need to take next. You should always have a spare tire on hand. Now is the time to change out the flat and continue to the nearest service station. However, you need to make sure there is enough room around your car to freely work in.
Don’t try changing the tire if doing so will put you on the road, and in a dangerous situation from oncoming traffic. If you don’t have enough room to change the tire, or if you don’t have a spare, you need to call a tow truck. Depending on where you are, you may decide to have the truck drop off your car at home or at the nearest mechanic.
A blowout is likely to happen at least once in a person’s life. The important thing to do, above all else, is to remain calm. A blowout is usually accompanied by a loud bang. Don’t let this unnerve you. Follow the correct safety procedures and you’ll be on the road again in no time.