What causes and how to handle a tyre blowout

Sam Bisby

By: Sam Bisby

When it comes to scary things happening at the wheel, a tyre blowout is likely to be near the top of the list. A sudden loss of pressure on one (or more) of your car’s four corners can be an immediately terrifying prospect.

Thankfully, not only are there ways to deal with such a situation, but also ways in which can help avoid such an event.

Difference between a tyre blowout and a punctured tyre

Punctured tyre - this is where a tyre is slowing losing pressure and the tyre will eventually become flat. This is a situation that is easy to deal with if identified early on and can be fixed temporarily with a type puncture repair kit or putting on the spare wheel. In the long term, the punctured tyre will need to be properly replaced with a new one.

Tyre blowout - this a very sudden loss of pressure where the tyre is quickly destroyed, making it difficult to drive. There is also a chance that a blowout can damage the wheel itself and the surrounding area of the vehicle.

Tyre blowout causes and avoidance

- The most common tyre blowout cause is under-inflation. An under-inflated tyre will bulge out under your car’s weight, causing it to bounce up and down when driven at speed. This then causes a high level of friction, resulting in heat that will weaken the tyre and eventually leads to it bursting. Make sure to check your tyres’ pressures regularly to dramatically reduce the chance of this being the case; equally ensure tyres aren’t over-inflated.

- Usually in tandem with under-inflation, an overloaded vehicle can also lead to a burst tyre due to the tyre(s) being put under more pressure than it’s built to endure. Couple this with an under-inflated tyre and there’s a high chance of a tyre blowout. Make sure you are aware of your vehicle’s max load weight and don’t go over it to reduce the risk of a blowout.

- While potholes are a general menace to motorists, they can also be quite dangerous to our vehicles’ well-being. Driving over a particularly nasty pothole, especially at speed, can cause an immediate tyre blowout due to the impact alone.

- Like potholes, hitting a kerb with momentum can also cause a blowout. Avoiding hitting dangerous looking potholes and high kerbs will reduce the chance of a blowout.

Tyre blowout what to do

What to do during a tyre blowout

Stay calm - this might be a ridiculous thing to say given the situation, but in order to make the event of a tyre blowout as safe as possible, you need to keep your wits.

Keep a firm grip on the wheel - the car will want to pull in the direction of the burst tyre, so it’s important you keep the wheel firmly in both hands to keep the car as straight as possible.

No heavy braking - pretty much any driver encountering a tyre blowout for the first time - or perhaps at any time - will want to instinctively put their foot hard on the brakes. This is one of the worst things you can do as hard braking can exaggerate the way the car wants to pull as a result of the blowout, potentially leading to an accident. If you have to brake, apply them gently; if a rear tyre goes, controlled braking is more advised as the car’s weight is then brought to the front wheels.

Pull over safely - as soon as safely possible, pull you car over to the side of the road and put your hazards on. Ensure that other motorists are aware that you have stopped by deploying reflective safety triangles behind your car if you have them. When you leave your car, it may be better to exit at the passenger side, and wear reflective clothing if possible.

Next steps - if you are able to replace the wheel at the road side with a spare then you can get to a safer and more practical location, or even all the way home/to your destination. Alternatively, you can ring for breakdown recovery which can then take you to a garage to get the tyre replaced with a new one and you can be on your way.

Can I avoid a blowout by using run flat tyres?

In short, run flat tyres won’t necessarily remove the risk of a tyre blowout. What run flat tyres can offer is more stability in the event of a blowout, as it can support a vehicle without air and the car’s handling should only be affected marginally following a blowout.

Also, you can usually drive on a run flat tyre for up to 100 miles before needing to stop, although it is advised that a max speed of 50mph is adhered to. If you have run flat tyres equipped on your car, ensure you keep an eye out for any run flat warnings on the dash.