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Tire Blowout: Causes and What You Should Do

Popping a tire is never ideal, especially when it happens at highway speeds - which it usually does. But, is there any way to prevent damage? What should you do when a tire blows?

The answers may be simpler than you might think.

While not many factors are in our control when it comes to a deflated tire, we can help to avoid further problems if we know what to do in an emergency. Therefore, let's take a deep breath and see everything we need to know about tire blowouts.

What Is a Tire Blowout?

A tire blowout is a type of tire damage that usually happens during driving. It is caused by the sudden and rapid loss of air pressure. A blown tire is often associated with a flat tire, but there is a big difference between them.

A flat tire is the result of gradual tire pressure loss, which offers enough time for the tire pressure monitoring systems' sensors to notify the driver of the problem. On the other hand, tire blowouts happen in a split second. Heat and pressure build-up cause a failure as the tire pressure suddenly erupts from the tire, resulting in a loud boom and irreparable damage.

Tire blowout

Air pressure suddenly leaves the tire, due to various reasons, and further damages the tread and sidewall areas. This "explosion" results in a blown-up tire, which cannot be used anymore.

What Causes a Tire Blowout?

There are various causes of tire blowouts, ranging from air pressure problems to road hazard damage. However, all of them have one thing in common: they ruin the tire's lifespan.

A common misconception is that only too much tire pressure causes blowouts. Yet, a blowout occurs mostly for the exact opposite reason. Low PSI levels will make the sidewalls bend and flex, accumulating pressure that results in a blown-out tire.

Other contributing factors include overestimating the tires' capabilities, poor tire maintenance, road hazard damage, impact damage, giant cuts, and small punctures. In one way or another, all of these can damage the tires, causing tire failure.


Overpacking the car with loads or driving it at high speeds are not necessarily issues in themselves. However, when we exceed the manufacturer's recommendations of load and speed, the tires will fail. This often results in tire blowouts.

The rest of the issues can be categorized under damage. Road hazards, impacts, or even small punctures can damage the tire's internal structure and steel cord reinforcement. An immediate or delayed blowout can effectively damage the tire's usability and performance.

What Should You Do if You Have a Tire Blowout?

A tire blowout can be scary! When it happens, often drivers lose control of their vehicles. Yet, the most important thing to keep in mind when experiencing a tire blowout is to stay calm. You will need to maintain control of the car and you will need a clear head to do so.

But, how exactly can you do that?

Tire Popped, Now What?

When the problem already occurs, you won't have time to look up what to do. So, it's better to be prepared beforehand.

If you have a tire blowout and know what to do, you can save yourself from unnecessary headaches. However, you will need to know exactly what to do in order to get out of the sticky situation safely.

First, let's take a look at how you can recognize a blowout.

Whether it happens to a front tire or a rear tire, the signs will be a bit different. A front tire blowout will cause the car to swerve towards the side with a faulty tire (i.e.: if the driver's side tire blew out, the vehicle will start pulling to the left). On the other hand, a rear blowout will cause the vehicle to shimmy back and forth.

Flat tire

Still, the sound will be the same! You will hear the tire's failure at the same time you feel it. When a blowout occurs, you will hear a loud boom when the pressure rapidly leaves the tire. After this, a flapping sound will reach you, which is created by the deflated tire elements making contact with the driving surface.

From this point on, you will need to do all you can to handle the car in a safe manner.

How to Safely Handle it?

You heard the pop and the vehicle starts to sway, this is where most drivers panic.

Don't be like other drivers, read up on such situations before they happen and be prepared.

First and foremost, you need to keep a cool head. Keep a firm grip on the steering wheel and slowly steer the car in the direction you wish to go. Avoid jerking or quick movements as they will just make steering harder. Be gentle with the steering wheel to ensure the car's forward momentum.

Now, your instinct might tell you to hit the brake pedal and stop the car. Do not do that! Instead, step on the gas pedal and gently accelerate. Pushing down on the accelerator will help stabilize the vehicle, helping you regain control. It will also keep your mind off of the brakes and turn the steering wheel.

At this point, the vehicle will start to slow down. This is due to the fact that only three tires are operational now. Use this opportunity to pull over and lightly press the brakes, which will help stop the car.

Emergency lights

Leave the steering wheel alone, turn on the emergency lights (or emergency flashers), and set up your "road hazard corner". By this, we mean setting up a reflective triangle to alert other drivers of your predicament. This is especially crucial at night when visibility is not the best.

When you have come to a stop and set everything up, it is time to replace the tire or call for help.

How to Prevent a Blowout?

Taking care of your cars begins with their tires. Tire maintenance will help you prevent many related issues, including a blowout tire. Most causes of tire blowout are preventable and if you wish to protect your vehicle simple tire maintenance is the way to go.

Checking air pressure

It is important that you equip your vehicle with the correct tires. Check the owner's manual to see the tire size, load and speed ratings, PSI levels, etc. required to ensure the vehicle's secure performance. A tire blows often because it cannot handle the pressure placed on it. Drive the vehicle at a safe speed. Often high speeds create heat accumulation that results in the tires' blowout.

Checking the PSI levels regularly is another way to avoid damage. It is normal for tires to lose air pressure over time. This slow leak is due to temperature changes. Following the PSI levels will make sure the tires are always running on the recommended pressure levels.

Focus on the road noise you hear during the drive. If anything feels off, have your vehicle checked out. The problem might be fixed with a simple tire rotation that will optimize the tread wear manner. Brake, steer, and accelerator issues will also be found with regular maintenance. While they do not necessarily play a role in blowouts, it's not a bad idea to have the vehicle inspected.