Tyre blowout while driving: This is how you maintain control and avoid crashing
Zamil Syaheer · May 14, 2020 12:57 PM
You’re driving on the highway at 90 km/h, listening to your favourite tune and jamming along to the lyrics, when all of a sudden you heard a loud boom coming from the rear. In that split second, you noticed the rear end of your car and steering doesn’t feel quite right, and your natural instinct is to brake amidst the chaos.
It that the right action though? In this article, we’re going to take a look on how tyre blowout occurs, and what is the appropriate response that will either save you and/or your car to see another light of the day.
What causes a tyre blowout?
The tyres on your car won’t simply blowout with no reason. The most common causes are:
Driving with too low tyre pressure (the common culprit)
Driving over a hard or sharp object, such as a stone, brick, bottle or metal bevel
Overloading the car (eg. too many heavy luggage during a balik kampung trip), leading to an overheated tyre
Air pressure exceeding the level recommended by the tyre manufacturer
Excessive tyre wear or old age
Manufacturing defects on the tyre
Tyre that has a visible lump, budge or unusual cuts
Driving with a worn-out steering system or major suspension components over a prolonged time.
Every blowout is dangerous, irrespective of front or rear. When the front tyre burst, your steering wheel will pull towards the side with the blown tyre. Rear tyre blowouts however, will give you loose sensation, which can be felt through your seat.
On heavier commercial vehicles such as cargo truck or buses, a tyre blowout will always result in loss of control due to the heavy kerb weight. The momentum, causing something like a pendulum effect is evident in the video above.
Okay, what I’m supposed to do in case of tyre blowout?
For front tyre blowout - do not brake at all!
This seems counter-intuitive, but the moment you step on the brake pedal, your car will suddenly pull very strongly in the direction of the blown tyre. You don't want to do that. Do not jerk the steering wheel too, because any sudden movement could cause you to lose control, like spinning right into the guardrail.
What you should do is keep maintain throttle pressure (accelerator pedal), be gentle and try to stay calm. Slowly ease your throttle pedal, avoid any unnecessary or sudden motion with your steering wheel, look and plan where the safest spot ahead is and let the car roll itself to a complete stop.
If your car comes with a mechanical handbrake, you can also pull it on and off (gently) repeatedly in a smooth motion to help slow down and stabilize the car, but this requires you to be familiar with how strong your handbrake locking mechanism is.
For rear tyre blowout, again, do not press the brake at all! The moment you do, the rear end of your car starts to tail out and you will spin right on the dot. Forget mechanical handbrake, that will not be of any use.
Maintain momentum either by accelerating gently to keep the car balanced in a straight line, or ease off the throttle to slow down. Hold the steering wheel in a firm and calm manner, avoiding any unnecessary motion, and let the car slow down by itself to a complete stop at a safe place. Changing to a lower gear might also help in a front-wheel-drive car, if you can control the steering with one hand.
Regardless of the situation, remember these three words: keep calm, be gentle and do not step on the brake at all. Your fast forward-thinking and action can help save yourself and/or the car, but importantly practice safe driving habits and keep an eye on tyre maintenance; these actions could very well help you avoid from such things to happen.
More than 10 years experience, specialising in Motorsports, Advanced Driving, Event Management & Creative Design. He enjoys driving (drifting, actually) anything RWD with a proper LSD over the limit. Versatility is his motto and mantra.