Tire Blowouts: Common Causes & What to Do If You Experience One

Tire Blowout

One of the most frightening things that can happen to a driver on the road is a tire blowout. We rely a huge deal on a simple car part to travel safely – the tire. If it bursts or “blows out” while driving the outcomes can be severe. The U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), reports there are more than 11,000 vehicle crashes a year due to tire-related issues such as blowouts and flat tires.

Particularly in hotter months, from mid-May through early October, there is usually an increase in these tire blowouts due to a combination of factors:

  • Hot temperatures
  • Increased driving times and frequency due to road trips
  • Faster driving on highways
  • Heavier vehicles loaded with luggage and other goods

These issues seem to happen more frequently in areas where the climate is warmer, and temperatures are higher. However, this can happen to anyone, anywhere, anytime.

As a driver it is wise to be aware of these incidents to prevent becoming a victim. Learn how these occur and what you should do if you’re involved in one. In some cases, the driver is not to blame. The tire manufacturers or other 3rd parties may be held accountable if this resulted from their negligence.

How Blowouts Occur

A tire blowout occurs when a tire bursts and quickly loses air pressure. This is typically caused by a lack of air pressure within the tire, which in turn, can cause the vehicle to overheat. When the vehicle overheats the tire, the rubber can become disconnected from the steel cord reinforcement and the internal fabric.

Blowouts can occur due to many factors. Common causes of tire blowouts include:

  • Impact damage, such as a tire running over glass, a pothole, a nail or a large object, or by hitting a curb, which cuts or damages it
  • Overloading the vehicle
  • Gradual air release over time from a small puncture
  • Under-inflation of the tire
  • Overheating of the tire
  • Old tires, defective tires or tires that are still on a car but that have been recalled

If a tire flexes beyond its designed limits, a blowout can strike. During a blowout, there will be an unusually loud thumping noise and the car may drift to one side. It is vital to always be vigilant of your car’s behavior, especially during “tire blowout season”. If you feel a blowout has occurred, get to a safe place and asses the damages.

Tire blowouts

What to Do During a Tire Blowout

These situations require quick reaction times to ensure safety. They can happen suddenly and severely, giving little to no time for assessment. You might get an indication as tire pieces fly up around you and your vehicle. Important steps to consider include:

  • Remove your foot from the gas pedal and stop accelerating immediately
  • Focus on maintaining full control, if possible, of the steering wheel
  • When the vehicle has slowed to below 30 miles per hour, safely pull over to the side of the road
  • Do not use the brakes unless your vehicle is fully under control

You must try and avoid any temptation to jerk on the steering wheel. This action could potentially cause the vehicle to spin out of control or roll over. It is important to stay as calm as possible while slowly and moving the vehicle to the side of the road for safety. Try to  keep the wheel as straight as possible in this situation to try and avoid further damage. If you are confident the tire pressure of the spare is safe, change out the damaged tire. Otherwise, call emergency assistance to tow away your vehicle.

Always be sure to wear your seatbelt and place both hands on the steering wheel while driving.  Follow best driving practices every single time you get behind the wheel. An unexpected tire blowout could cause a collision with another vehicle or cause your car to roll over.

When Negligence Causes a Tire Blowout

In some cases, you can do everything right- check tire pressure often, never overload your vehicle, avoid driving in extreme temperatures, etc. and still experience a dangerous tire blowout. Even after following all the best safety practices and performing regular maintenance when it comes to your tires, other factors may be in play. If the tires have been recalled, you should receive information about the recall from the manufacturer. However, this isn’t always the case. The NHTSA lists recent tire recalls on its website where you can find up to date information by checking this site regularly.

Driving with dangerous tires that are prone to blowouts may be negligent in and of itself, which is why it’s so important to get tires checked regularly. If you are in a car accident caused by a tire blowout, you should consult with a lawyer experienced in auto accident lawsuits. Learn and know your rights as a victim to these accidents. Tire blowouts can cause extreme injuries in severe cases including:

  • Internal organ damage
  • Broken bones
  • Spinal cord or brain injuries
  • Lacerations
  • Death

Like any auto accident you are involved in, call 911 and get medical help immediately as some serious injuries aren’t always immediately noticeable. Make sure the accident scene is documented, including gathering witness statements and photographs of the vehicles involved. Ask for help from police or a bystander if you are unable to get this information yourself. If your tire was the one in the blowout, preserve what you can of the tire, in case you decide to file a product liability claim against the manufacturer.

Protect yourself by treating your car with the care it requires to keep you safe. Keep all records of tire pressure inspections (which should occur monthly), check tire pressure before long trips, retain servicing documentation from mechanics, fix damaged tires, avoid overloading your vehicle, and check tires after hitting curbs or foreign objects. Employ safe driving behavior to minimize damage to yourself and others if you are involved in a tire blowout.

This blog post was submitted by the law firm of Pittman, Dutton & Hellums.

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