Emergency Driving Tips for Tire Separations and Tire Blowouts: What do you do? : Ali's Bellevue Auto Repair Official Blog

Emergency Driving Tips for Tire Separations and Tire Blowouts: What do you do?

by Ali's Bellevue Auto Repair on 01/03/18

Often times, we talk about car maintenance and car repair tips, but it usually is all about preventing issues with your car's systems. We thought it might be helpful to address some lesser-known DRIVING tips for emergencies to help prepare YOU as opposed to your car.

Many people bring up how a driver is to handle a slide on road ice, but you rarely hear about how to handle tire malfunctions such as tire separations and tire blowouts. These aren't extremely common, but they DO HAPPEN and on a busy stretch of highway, they probably happen a few times a day. Of course, proper tire care will include many safety measures (such as, proper tire inflation) to help avoid tire blowouts or separations, but once you have an issue it's too late, and here are the methods for handling those if you happen to be behind the wheel.

How to Handle a Tire Blowout While Driving

In the case of a tire blowout, most safe drivers actually have the opposite instinctual reaction from what they SHOULD be doing. There is a shotgun-type blast noise when a tire blows out, and a law-abiding citizen behind the wheel, will usually want to begin slowing down immediately and pulling off of the road. This is incorrect, and with a rear-tire failure a crash could result from trying to turn at high speeds.

If a your tire blows while driving (on the highway these are most important), here are the steps to deal with it:
  1. You actually begin to push the gas pedal and accelerate slightly for a couple of seconds. This actually gives you control of the car and keeps you going straight down your lane, and not contacting other vehicles. After a couple of seconds, you slowly release the gas pedal.
  2. Remember to keep the car straight down the lane you are in, and don't use the brake (or the clutch).
  3. Then allow the car to coast to a slow speed---and it will, due to the drag created by the flat tire. When the car is below 30 mph, which is usually slow enough to be safe, put on your turn signal and turn carefully toward the road's shoulder. It's safer if the shoulder you go toward is on the same side as the blown tire, but this might not always be the easiest thing to do. 
  4. If you must use the brakes, use them lightly at the end to come to a complete stop.
Checking tire pressure will be your best bet to keep this from happening though. Most highway blowouts and tire separations happen when a car is traveling fast, in a straight line on a hot day with an under-inflated tire. But if it happens anyway, you can mentally practice how to handle your car safely.

How to Handle a Tread Separation While Driving

Actually the steps for responding for a tire separation are just about identical:
  1. Accelerate slightly for a couple of seconds. Then slowly release the gas pedal.
  2. Remember to keep the car straight down the lane.
  3. Then allow the car to coast to a slow speed. One difference is that you will likely have to apply brakes lightly in order to achieve a safe, slow speed.
  4. Get to the shoulder with a smooth turn.
Tire separations though, can be more dangerous for a couple of reasons. One reason is that the tread whips around and the underlying steel belt can come loose and rip up your car. But also, in some cases the tread may leave the tire altogether which makes some folks think that the problem is gone. 

An impending separation of the tire begins with an ongoing thumping sound, and will graduate to a slapping sound. The slapping of the ripped tire going away may make a driver think they are safe, but the tire can then blowout more easily, and you also will have lesser grip when you hit the freeway off-ramp. You will want to take similar actions, even if the loud sounds have stopped. Go slow, change the tire, and get assistance.

These aren't "fun" tips, but maybe these have helped you be a little more prepared for highway disaster, if it ever strikes. In the meantime, you can always be safer by having a mechanic you can trust look at your car as often as possible. At Ali's Bellevue Auto Repair shop, we may not FIX tires, but we can definitely inflate them (as we do EVERY time our customers come in), and let you know if we see any problems with them. If you live in the Bellevue area, and this helped you, let us know----and come see us for any auto repair need!

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