How To Avoid Tyre Blowouts
It would sound as if a gun had just been fired in your vehicle.
What was that?
Tyre blowouts are a scary thing to experience on the road. Blowouts are altogether different from a punctured tyre. The term describes a bursting tyre followed by a sudden and rapid loss of air pressure. Most tyre blowouts are caused by insufficient air pressure, causing the tyre’s internal components—fabric, steel, and rubber—to flex beyond its elastic capacity. This causes it to overheat to a point where the rubber loses its bond to the internal fabric and steel cord reinforcement.
Why Do Tyre Blowouts Happen?
Underinflation is the most common reason for tyre blowouts, and the easiest way to kill a tyre. Without sufficient air pressure, your tyre will bulge out under the weight of your car, while overflexing the tyre’s internal components beyond its designed limits. This results in a high level of friction, heating the tyre more and more, thus weakening it to a point where it eventually bursts.
What to do: Check your tyre pressure regularly to significantly reduce the chance of this occuring—but ensure they aren’t over-inflated either!
An excessively loaded vehicle can also lead to a burst tyre, as your tyres are being put under more pressure than they’re built to withstand.
What to do: Find out your vehicle’s Gross Vehicular Weight Rating (you’ll find it on the same placard as the recommended tyre pressure) and estimate your weight limits. If you’re carrying extra heavy loads, increase the tyre’s weight-bearing capacity by increasing tyre pressure to its maximum load, indicated by the ‘Maximum Pressure’ number found on a tyre sidewall. The number moulded into your tyre indicates the maximum weight it can carry if the tyre is inflated at maximum pressure.
Running over a particularly nasty pothole or other road hazard at high speed is another way irreparable tyre injuries can happen. The impact can cut and fray the tyre’s internals, sometimes cutting completely through the fabric and rubber, busting your tyre.
What to do: Try to manoeuvre around potholes where possible, and go slow if the roads are uneven and bumpy.
Sometimes a tyre sustains a damage that will lead to its death long before it actually fails. Forgetting to check tyre pressure, or not realising your teen driver had run through a pothole last week, can mean a premature tyre death somewhere in the horizon. Months later, when the vehicle is loaded with people and luggage for a road trip, the combination of the heavy load, hot weather, and long distance travel, stresses the tyre beyond its limits. The previously damaged tyre reaches its breaking point and fails.
As with any hazard, prevention is the best cure. While tyre reliability has improved to a point where blowouts are an uncommon occurrence, its rarity only makes it more unexpected and potentially more dangerous. What a driver does when this happens can make the difference between a mere inconvenience or an accident. Click here to find out how to handle tyre blowouts safely!