When you’re driving, you want to feel in control of your environment and your vehicle. Hands on the steering wheel, eyes on the road, moving steadily. So it’s no wonder that hearing loud noises and experiencing a shift in speed or movement can be jarring. If that’s the case, you might be experiencing a tire blowout. Read on to learn what you should do if you have a tire blowout.
What is a tire blowout?
You might be familiar with a flat tire, but a tire blowout is a different beast altogether and can be more dangerous and anxiety-inducing because of the noises and loss of stability that may be involved. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), “A tire blowout is a rapid loss of tire air pressure that can cause your vehicle to lose control.”
If you hear a boom or hissing sound, it’s likely you’re experiencing a blown tire and need to move to safety ASAP and remedy the issue.
Why do tire blowouts happen?
Tire blowouts can happen for a multitude of reasons. The most basic reason is poor tire maintenance, according to the NHTSA. If your tires are underinflated, not properly rotated, or there is an uneven tire wear pattern, you may be at higher risk for a blown tire. Some other common culprits can include:
- Hitting a pothole
- Heat, which expands air in the tire during the summer months
- Excessive weight in the car
A tire blowout can happen at any time but may have an increased likelihood when you reach higher speeds on the road, like on the freeway. Since the freeway is the last place you want to have a blown tire, it’s crucial to know what you should do if you have a tire blowout.
What should you do if you have a tire blowout?
Having a tire blowout can be sudden and scary due to the unexpected noise and potential loss of control. If you hear a loud noise and your surroundings are clear, assume it’s your tire and take a deep breath. When you take deep breaths, your parasympathetic nervous system gets activated, which can help calm you down.
Taking a deep breath and remaining as calm as possible is key to avoiding a sudden overreaction which could be detrimental. You don’t want to hit the brakes hard during this time and instead take strategic steps toward safety to avoid an accident. If you’re dealing with a tire blowout, according to the NHTSA here’s what you should do:
- Hold the steering wheel with both hands.
- Maintain your vehicle speed if possible and if it’s safe to do so.
- Gradually release the accelerator.
- Correct the steering as necessary to stabilize your vehicle and regain control. Look where you want the vehicle to go and steer in that direction.
- Once your vehicle has stabilized, continue to slow down and pull off the road where and when you judge it’s safe to do so.
When you’re safely pulled over and out of harm’s way, put on your hazard lights and call for help. If you have AAA or roadside assistance, you can get a professional on the way to help. Metromile customers can get additional roadside assistance coverage in addition to affordable pay-per-mile coverage.
If you have a spare tire and know how to change a tire, you may be able to DIY it. However, be careful, especially if you’re on a busy road or freeway or in the dark.
How to avoid tire blowout
As noted above, the NHTSA explains that tire blowouts can occur due to underinflated tires or lack of proper tire maintenance. That’s why it’s crucial to check your tire pressure and rotate your tires on a regular basis.
If possible, try to check these things once a month. You can check your owner’s manual to see your car’s ideal pounds per square inch (PSI). It’s best to check your tire pressure before doing a lot of driving, so check in the morning.
Aside from proper tire maintenance, be a defensive driver and be on the lookout for potholes, big objects, or other harmful debris that can lead to a blown tire. Be aware that in excessive heat, your tires have a higher likelihood of blowing out. While you can’t control the weather, you can be aware and engage in proper maintenance so you’re prepared.
Will my car insurance provider cover a tire blowout?
Getting a blown tire can feel like an unfortunate incident. If you need to suddenly replace your car tire, it’s natural to wonder if your car insurance will cover it. It depends on the incident and your type of coverage. Typical car maintenance issues usually aren’t covered by car insurance.
If you have collision coverage and the tire blowout is related to hitting an object on the road, you may be able to get it covered. But since you have to pay your car insurance deductible first, it may not be worth it.
The bottom line
Dealing with a tire blowout isn’t really anyone’s version of a good time on the road. But if you’re dealing with a blown tire, you can take the actions listed above to get it taken care of and move on. You may be able to get help from your insurance provider as well. Metromile offers roadside assistance as additional coverage on top of pay-per-mile car insurance. You can save by only paying for the miles you actually drive. Low-mileage drivers may be able to score serious savings by making the switch. Check your personalized quote with Metromile.
Melanie Lockert is a freelance writer, podcast host of the Mental Health and Wealth show, and author of Dear Debt. She’s a cat mom to two jazzy cats, Miles and Thelonious, an amateur boxer, music lover, and needs coffee to function.