May 29, 2015
In case you didn’t notice, starting in May and continuing all the way through the end of September is the “tire blowout season.” This time of year, you will find highway shoulders littered with small and large fragments of shredded tires. Towing companies are insanely busy this time of year, and our Maryland auto repair shops also get plenty of calls from stranded motorists. A tire blowout is not only a big inconvenience, but also a rather dangerous event. Here are a few tips to help you understand why tire blowouts happen and how to keep your vehicle safe.
Why Tires Blow Up
Don’t get us wrong, tires blow up year round, but in summer the likelihood is higher. The combination of hot weather, long-distance travel (think road-trips), heavily loaded vehicles and high-speed driving creates perfect conditions for a tire blowout. Let’s further discuss these factors that contribute to tire failure.
Remember when we talked about the importance of proper tire pressure? Let’s revisit this topic briefly. When your tires have less air than recommended by the manufacturer, the rubber will flex more than it needs to and overheat as a result. This will make your tire weaker and more prone to blowouts, especially if you run over a pothole at 70mph.
The more weight your car carries, the more stressed your tires are. And they may already be fairly worn out after the brutal winter. Remember that time you slid on the snowy slush and hit a curb? You tires remember! At this point, even a minor change in the normal vehicle load may trigger a tire blowout. And in summer, we tend to load our cars to the brim with heavy suitcases on the ride to the airport, a trailer full of mulch or stocky friends from your son’s football team.
Your driving habits play a big role in the likelihood of one of your tires blowing up. If you are not careful enough to avoid potholes or gently pull into your parking spot without hitting the curb, you are slowly damaging your tires. Add high speed, and you are running a risk of slicing your tire open while going over a pothole.
What to Do if You Tire Blows Up
If one of your tires suddenly blows up, you will typically hear a loud boom. You may feel your vehicle slow down and start pulling toward the side of the failed tire. A tire blowout in a middle of heavy traffic can easily lead to an accident and even a fatality. To prevent this, follow these tips to stay safe:
- Don’t slam on breaks or rapidly turn the wheel.
- Press the gas pedal lightly to propel your car forward.
- Then take your foot off the gas pedal and allow the car to decelerate slowly.
- Turn on your hazard lights when you get a chance.
- Keep a firm grip on the steering wheel and keep the vehicle in your lane.
- Find a safe spot to pull over.
- Allow your car to naturally stop or use brakes lightly as needed.
- If you have a spare, you can replace the tire yourself. If not, call your local Maryland auto repair shop and get your car towed there.
Keep in mind that your spare tire is not made for long-distance high-speed driving. It’s made to get you back on the road, so that you can take your car to a mechanic who will replace your failed tire.
Preventing Tire Blowouts
Our #1 advice for preventing tire blowouts is to keep up with tire maintenance, especially tire pressure. If you check on the condition of your tires regularly, you are more likely to catch and fix any problems early. Tire pressure adjustment takes minutes and can save you hours being stranded on the side of a steaming-hot highway mid-July.
Need help maintaining your car in a perfect working condition? You can trust Hillmuth Certified Automotive to take care of every item on the maintenance checklist, including tires! Contact us today to schedule an appointment.