What should you do if you have a tire blowout?

Tire blowouts can be scary, dangerous, and costly. Taking extra precaution when moving, towing heavy weight, and working on home projects can help prevent tire blowouts. But in the event of an unexpected blowout, practice specific safety tips to remain in control of your vehicle.

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D. Gilson is a writer and author of essays, poetry, and scholarship that explore the relationship between popular culture, literature, sexuality, and memoir. His latest book is Jesus Freak, with Will Stockton, part of Bloomsbury’s 33 1/3 Series. His other books include I Will Say This Exactly One Time and Crush. His first chapbook, Catch & Release, won the 2012 Robin Becker Prize from Seve...

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Written by D. Gilson, PhD
Professor & Published Author D. Gilson, PhD

Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insuranc...

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Reviewed by Leslie Kasperowicz
Farmers CSR for 4 Years Leslie Kasperowicz

UPDATED: Mar 11, 2022

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The Highlights

  • If you experience a tire blowout when driving, do your best to remain in control of the vehicle and, when possible, maneuver off to the side of the road

  • Tire blowouts can be caused by an overloaded vehicle, overly worn tire treads, or poorly maintained roads

  • Avoid tire blowouts by checking your car tire pressure and treads frequently

Imagine you’re driving along a scenic highway, enjoying the beautiful views all around you as you cruise with the windows down. But all of a sudden, you hear a loud pop, a deep clunk, or even a heavy snap.

The cause for the commotion? A popped tire, perhaps.

If you’ve never been in this tire trouble before, it can be a bit unsettling. What should you do if you have a tire blowout? To help you stay safe while you’re on the road, we’ve put together a guide that outlines some safety tips that’ll help you navigate this unexpected situation. Plus, you’ll find some tricks for preventing tire blowouts from happening again in the future.

Whether you’ve blown a new tire or gotten into a fender bender, make sure you’re protected with auto insurance.

Safety Tips if You Have a Tire Blowout

The thing about a tire blowout is that it can happen anywhere. You could be cruising down the highway, driving to the supermarket, or heading to or from work. It can be easy for a tire blowout to lead to a more severe accident since they can catch you off guard.

Regardless of where the tire blowout occurs, the most important thing is to stay calm. Here are some safety and defensive driving tips for you to keep in mind to help get your vehicle off the road safely:

  • Stay calm and maintain control. Since a tire blowout will often come out of nowhere, you might be tempted to give up control of your vehicle. Doing this, however, may end up making matters worse. Try to maintain control by keeping your hands on the steering wheel and avoiding any sudden jerking motions that could cause a collision.
  • Don’t step on the brakes right away. When something with your vehicle goes awry, another common reaction is to suddenly slam on the brakes. Aside from endangering other drivers who may be following behind you, this may also cause you to lose even more control. While it might seem a bit counterintuitive, accelerating slightly after the tire blowout may help your vehicle stabilize.
  • Turn your hazard lights on. If you feel you’re in control of your vehicle, you’re going to want to get off the road as safely as possible. Turning your hazard lights on as soon as you can will help warn other vehicles of your predicament. This will also help give you the room you need to guide your vehicle where it needs to go.
  • Wait to slow down. After you accelerate a little bit to stabilize the vehicle, continue to avoid braking and allow it to slow down on its own. Once you reach a more manageable speed, you can then start making your move toward the side of the road.

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What should you do after a tire blowout?

Again, it’s important to do everything you can to avoid stopping in the middle of the road since this can cause accidents and put other drivers at risk. But once you’re safely off the road and your vehicle is parked, there are a few more safety precautions you should take to stay safe and keep anyone else in the vehicle out of harm’s way.

  • Check your surroundings to make sure it’s safe to exit the vehicle if you need to.
  • Keep your hazard lights on so that other drivers know to keep a safe distance.
  • If you have safety markers, you can set up things like cones, flares, or flags to be more visible to oncoming traffic.
  • Call for assistance if you need help changing your tire and getting back on the road.

Always make sure to stay with your vehicle, and if you’re comfortable enough to do it, you can change the tire yourself.

What causes tires to blow out?

Sometimes the weather can play a role in a tire blowout, but there are typically a few other reasons why they might occur. Here’s a breakdown of some of the most common causes of a tire blowout.

Your Vehicle Has Worn Down Tires

Like other parts of your vehicle, your tires need to get replaced or rotated every so often to ensure optimal performance. If your vehicle is regularly overloaded, the tires are underinflated, or you’ve simply been driving on the same ones for too long, it will wear them down.

When this happens, it jeopardizes the integrity of the tires and, sooner or later, the wear and tear will take its toll. The National Highway Safety Administration recommends replacing tires with treads that have been worn down to 1⁄16 inch.

Your Vehicle Has Underinflated Tires

Tires are designed to hold a certain air pressure to keep their handling potential, durability, and strength. When the air pressure isn’t where it needs to be, it will cause the tires to underinflate.

This can affect the components of the tire and cause warping, making them more susceptible to a blowout.

Your Tires Take Impacts from Bad Roads

Whether you’re driving on poorly maintained roads or Mother Nature has been wreaking havoc on what once were smoothly paved streets, it can be a hazard for your vehicle. No matter how well-maintained your tires are, winter frost heaves and potholes or debris from a nearby construction site can often be the culprit behind tire blowouts.

Your Vehicle is Carrying a Heavy Load

The tires on your vehicle typically have a certain weight or load capacity that they’re able to handle. This is why the bigger the vehicle, the bigger the tires. So if you’re overloading the weight your tires are designed to handle, it can cause significant damage and potentially lead to tire failure.

Tire blowouts can happen when there’s a surcharge of weight the tires can’t easily bear, such as:

  • On a moving day, when your vehicle is overloaded with heavy furniture and appliances
  • When you’re pulling excessive amounts of weight behind your vehicle with a trailer
  • If you’re doing a home project and have packed your vehicle with heavy lumber and supplies

Be sure to take extra precaution in each of these scenarios.

Does insurance cover tire blowouts?

Several auto insurance policies can cover things like sudden and accidental damage. However, it’s all going to depend on the policy you have and the circumstances behind the tire blowout itself.

The best thing you can do is contact your insurance provider to get a better understanding of what’s covered. They may even be able to offer roadside assistance, which can include tire change services and towing options if you need it.

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Can you do anything to help prevent a tire blowout?

While tire blowouts can be unpredictable, there are plenty of proactive steps you can start taking today to ensure the safety of your tires — and yourself.
Develop safe driving habits and steer clear of tire issues by:

Replacing Your Tires When Necessary

It can be easy to lose track of when your tires should get replaced. But, as you know, driving on tires that are worn down makes the possibility of a blowout more likely.

To stay on top of your tread, try performing the penny test with a spare coin. Measuring the depth of your tread in relation to Lincoln’s head on a penny is a quick and easy way to regularly monitor the health of your tires.

Avoiding Bad Roads With Potholes

If you know your tire treads are running a bit thin, do your best to avoid hazardous roads. Even if it means taking the long way around town in order to steer clear of a particularly pothole-ridden road, it may be worth it to protect your tires until you can get them replaced.

Regularly Checking Your Tire Pressure

Head to your local hardware store and get your hands on a pressure gauge. With this tool, you can keep track of tire pressure and ensure it’s where it needs to be before getting on the road.

Only Carrying the Weight Your Tires Are Intended to Handle

Check the maximum weight capacity that your tires can handle to make sure that you’re not overloading the vehicle. Taking a quick look at the tires themselves can help you to get a grasp on your tire load index. The number that’s typically displayed after the tire size will give you a better idea of how many pounds they’re designed to carry.

Following the tips outlined above can help you prevent the possibility of a tire blowout. You can make sure that you’re keeping yourself, anyone else in your vehicle, and other drivers on the road as safe as possible.

As well, being more diligent when it comes to tire care can help reduce any stress and allow you to comfortably get where you need to go with no delays or disruptions.

Do you still have some questions about insurance?

Tire blowouts aren’t the only thing you might have to worry about when it comes to your vehicle. There are all sorts of things that can happen when you’re on the road, from bumps and scratches to chipped windshields and overheated engines.

Plus, a lot of these roadside mishaps can be completely out of your control. To give some added peace of mind, make sure your vehicle is covered by an auto insurance provider you can trust.

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