How to Handle a Tyre Blowout

A tyre blowout can be a scary experience, especially if you’re not prepared for it when it happens. Here are some things you should know about tyre blowouts, how to minimise the chances of one happening to you, and what to do when it does.

What is a tyre blowout?

A tyre blowout is different from a tyre puncture or a slow leak. A tyre puncture means that a tyre will slowly lose pressure and eventually become flat, whereas a tyre blowout is a sudden loss of pressure which happens while driving. This mostly causes damage to the wheel itself and sometimes the surrounding area of the vehicle.

When a tyre blowout happens, you will feel a sudden jerking motion and your steering wheel will pull towards the side of the car where the broken tyre is. Your car will also feel like it’s ‘fishtailing’, or behaving as though it is driving on a slippery surface.

Preventing a tyre blowout from happening

The most important thing you can do to prevent a blowout from happening is make sure you carry out regular checks on your tyres. If your car is getting serviced regularly, a mechanic will be checking on the condition of your tyres, as well as its tread depth and pressure. WOFs should also pick up any potential tyre problems.

Some bad habits can compromise the quality of tyres and increase the likelihood of a blowout. Here are some things you should try to avoid:

● Driving over potholes
● Mounting kerbs
● Parking with your tyres right against the kerb
● Leaving weeks between tyre pressure checks
● Forgetting to check the tread depth of your tyres.

What to do during a tyre blowout

While easier said than done – especially when experiencing something scary – it’s important to try and stay calm.

Make sure you keep a firm grip on the wheel to try and keep the car straight, as it will want to pull in the direction of the burst tyre.

Try not to press the brake pedal. While your instinct is to brake, doing so will make the force pulling the vehicle to one side even stronger.

Gently apply pressure to the accelerator. While this may seem counterintuitive, it is important as it helps keep the car under control and reduce side-to-side momentum. But make sure you’re applying slight pressure and not speeding up your vehicle.

Once you have your car under control, gently lift your foot off the accelerator to allow the car to slow down naturally. Make sure you’re not suddenly removing your foot as this will unsettle your car again.

If your car has stability control, you can brake gently, as the stability system will handle the directional force. If your car doesn’t have stability control, wait until your car is under control before gently braking.

When your car reaches a speed under 50km/hour, you can start pulling it over to the side and come to a halt. Just remember that your tyre is now unusable so you shouldn’t be driving on it. Change it to your spare tyre or call for help.