Tire blowout

How to Handle a Tire Blowout: Step-by-Step Guide

by Zutobi · Updated Mar 02, 2022

A tire blowout is highly dangerous and very scary. When a tire blows, it will cause a large POP and instantly affect your steering and control over the vehicle. According to the NHTSA, tire blowouts cause almost 90 000 crashes annually, resulting in over 10,000 non-fatal injuries and over 400 fatalities in the United States alone.

It’s difficult to practice and become “good” at dealing with blowouts, but the difference between handling a tire blowout the correct way and the incorrect way may be the difference between life and death.

We’ll go through the DO’s and DON’Ts of handling a tire blowout below.

6 Steps to Safely Handle a Tire Blowout

Step #1 – Take a deep breath

The first step is to take a deep breath. This is simply to give you a second to think about what to do and prevent you from making a mistake that will undoubtedly cause you to lose control of your vehicle. Don’t hit the brake pedal, don’t steer to the sides, and don’t release your foot from the gas pedal. All of those actions may cause your vehicle to spiral out of control.

So first take a deep breath. Then follow the steps below.

Step #2 – Grip your steering wheel tight

To keep your steering wheel from quickly turning, you need to grip it tightly. The priority after a tire blows is to focus on controlling your vehicle until you can safely stop. Due to one of your tires no longer working, your steering may no longer be smooth and your steering wheel may turn sharply in one direction or the other.

Vehicles driving at high speeds
You may find it difficult to stay in your to control your vehicle. Make sure to quickly grip your steering wheel to prevent it from turning abruptly.

Step #3 – Steer straight

So which direction should you steer during a tire blowout? To the side of the road? Straight?

The only correct answer is straight ahead. Your vehicle is very unstable and you may lose control at any moment. If you steer to the side of the road, you don’t know how your car will react. Instead, you should keep control over your vehicle and steer straight. Try to make as few moves to the sides as possible!

If your steer tire has blown, the car may pull to that side. For example; if you experience a blowout in one of your front tires, the car will pull in the direction of the deflated tires. In such a case, do not pull sharply to the opposing side. Instead, gently try to counter the pull so you can maintain a straight-forward course.

Step #4 – Release the gas pedal

You should have a firm grip on the steering wheel and steer straight before releasing the gas pedal. The reason being is that it is easier to control your vehicle when the vehicle maintains speed than it is when you are decelerating or braking.

A driver with a foot on the gas pedal
Maintain a firm grip on the steering wheel and simply take your foot off of the gas pedal.

However, as you need to come to a stop as soon as safe, you need to let go of the accelerator at some point in time. By releasing the gas pedal when you have established control over your vehicle, you’ll give yourself the best chance to stay on the road. Just be warned: once you release the gas pedal, your vehicle may prove to be significantly harder to control.

Step #5 – Brake gently

After taking your foot off the gas, your car will begin to slow down. To further help it slow down gradually, you can begin braking gently. Don’t brake hard – gentle braking is the way to do it.

Do not brake before you have the car under control! Braking too early or too hard can cause you to lose control entirely as the braking force will no longer be uniform across all the wheels (due to one tire having blown…).  

a driver gently pressing the brake pedal
Don’t slam on your brakes! Start braking gently when you have your vehicle under control.

Step #6 – Pull off the road

As your vehicle slows down, pull completely off the road. The further away from traffic you are the safer you will be, especially if you intend to change the wheel yourself.

A car with a spare tire

If you have a spare tire, you can change the wheel. Just remember that a spare tire is only intended to get to the nearest mechanic

How to Prevent a Tire Blowout

While it’s important to know how to handle a tire blowout, it’s just as important to prevent a blowout from happening in the first place. In almost every case, a tire blowout is the result of carelessness and tires in a poor condition.

Remember these 4 tips and you should be good:

  • Ensure your tires are in good condition
  • Tire tread depth should be at least 2/32 inch
  • Maintain the recommended tire pressure
  • Be alert for unusual vibration or steering problems, such as one wheel not responding correctly
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