How to Prevent Tire Blowouts and What to Do if They Happen
A tire blowout can cause a driver to lose control of the vehicle and crash. Blowouts are also a leading cause of vehicle rollovers. Luckily, tire blowouts are entirely preventable. Knowing the common causes of blowouts and how to prevent them can help you avoid this dangerous situation. If a blowout does occur, you can take precautions to reduce your risk of injury. Here’s what to know about tire blowouts in time for the summer months – when the pavement heats up and the risk of blowouts increases.
Check Tire Tread and Pressure
Get into the habit of visually inspecting your tires before you drive. Look for signs of wear and tear or problems, such as a nail stuck in your tire wall. Check the tread of your tire for bald spots and wear. Try the penny test: Insert a penny, with Lincoln’s head pointing down toward the tread, into a tread rib on your tire. If the top of his head disappears, your tread is in good shape. If you can still see his whole head, your tread depth is no longer deep enough to keep you safe from blowouts. Check tire pressure as well. Low pressure can conduct heat faster and cause more friction.
Get Regular Maintenance on Your Vehicle
A visual inspection can help you prevent blowouts, but you should also engage in more in-depth tire maintenance regularly. Have a licensed mechanic check your tires at least every time you get an oil change, or more often. The mechanic should check tire pressure and tread for signs of a problem. Rotate your tires often and replace old tires when your mechanic recommends that you do so. Routine maintenance can greatly decrease the odds of tire blowouts.
Dangerous driving habits such as speeding can increase the risk of tire problems. High speeds on hot roads, for example, can cause tire pressure to build to unsafe levels. Too much pressure can result in a blowout – especially if you hit a pothole or a nail while speeding. Stay within the posted speed limit or drive at a safe speed for conditions. Avoid potholes, especially on the highway. Even a tire in good condition can blow out if you hit a pothole traveling fast enough.
Don’t Overload Your Vehicle
Check the weight limit on your tires. Don’t surpass this weight limit, even if you’re going on a long summer vacation and need to load your vehicle with luggage and equipment. Overloading your car or truck can place too much pressure on your tires, possibly leading to a blowout. Poorly maintained tires are at an even greater risk of shredding under too much weight.
If a Blowout Occurs…
In case you can’t avoid a tire blowout, learn what to do if one happens. How you react to a blowout could save your life. The sound of the blowout – a loud boom or bang, followed by a whooshing sound and flopping of a deflated tire – is your first sign that one has occurred. Your vehicle might try to pull to the left or right, depending on which tire blew. Keep a firm grip on the steering wheel and do not slam on the brakes. Let your car gradually reduce speed. Pull over in a safe area once you’ve reached a slow enough speed. Put on your emergency lights. Change your tire or call for emergency roadside assistance.
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