Those four wheels on the road are the crucial connection that keeps you safe when moving. Of course, despite being so dearly important, most people never think about what to do if one were to blow…

A lot of drivers talk about what to do if a kangaroo jumps out in front of a car, or that you need to be careful on different road surfaces – but you hardly ever hear anyone talk about what happens when a tyre blows out when travelling at speed.

Indeed, it isn’t terribly common, particularly with today’s tyre technology, but it does happen, and it can be awfully frightening.

The reason for such an incident is usually down to poor maintenance on behalf of the owner – checking tyre condition and tyre pressure regularly – and making sure they are replaced when they should be. There can sometimes be damage even when you can’t see it, but you might know about it because you hit a gutter or something on the road. Such an impact can cause premature damage that becomes exponentially worse at the wrong time (when you’re clicking along at 100km/h and approaching a corner, perhaps).

So what can you expect when a tyre blows out?

You’ll know, for certain. It’s loud and you probably won’t mistake it. Modern cars have very good electronic stability control and automated brake controlling, but erratic behaviour from the driver might see the car wobble into danger. And brakes can lock up suddenly and dangerously if you slam them on. Confidence and deliberate control of the car is crucial.

What to do if a tyre blows out

Both hands on the steering wheel – The steering will instantly niggle and perhaps bite, so you want to have two hands on the wheel for complete control.

Don’t slam the brakes – Locking up the wheels will stop them from moving and keep the car relatively tidy. If the wheels lock up under braking, the car will slide anywhere, uncontrollably.

Look around and slow down – Keep keenly aware of any traffic around you and look at the area you are in. You now want to begin to smoothly slow down and find a safe place to pull over. You don’t need to stop in the middle of the road suddenly, so find somewhere that you and passing traffic will be safe, and gently apply the brakes.

Stop – Once you’ve found the right place to stop, you can park the car and put the hazards on if you are on the side of the road. Job well done – but mind that if you are on the side of a busy road you are in a dangerous spot. If your car has a hazard sign or witches hat in the back you should place this behind your car to warn approaching traffic.

Assess and replace – At this point, you will want a new tyre. Check the wheel arches and bumpers for potential damage, and pick up any debris left behind that you can do safely. At this point you will need to replace your wheel with the spare tyre – obviously, an inflator kit won’t help! If the job looks too much, call for assistance.


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Practical Motoring

The team of journalists at Practical Motoring bring decades of automotive and machinery industry experience. From car and motorbike journalists to mechanical expertise, we like to use tools of the trade both behind the computer and in the workshop.

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