There isn’t a doubt that a tire blowout ranks the highest on any highway driver’s list of fears. With good reason, as a tire burst could lead to a complete loss of car control.
A blowout is dangerous no matter how good a driver you are or how safe your car is.
Below are 16 ways you can prevent a tyre bust.
1. Under-inflation is the NO.1 cause of tyre bursts. Some studies suggest that it is responsible for 75% of all blowouts. Under-inflated tyres suffer from excessive flexing and thus, overheating. Be disciplined in checking the air pressure of all tyres (including the spare) before hitting the highway. Always check the pressure when the tyres are cold (typically, less than 5 km of recent running). Invest in a high quality pressure gauge as petrol pump readings may be inaccurate.
2. Check the air pressure every week or fortnight. This way, a small puncture (also known to cause blowouts) will catch your attention.
3. There is nothing more critical to safe driving than healthy tyres. Visually inspect all tyres (including the spare). If you spot any bulges or cuts, that is bad news. Tyres can also get damaged by impact against kerbs, dividers and large potholes.
4. Use tubeless tyres. The old tube-type tyres have a higher chance of a dangerous blowout. Good news is, tubeless tyres are OEM fitment on nearly all passenger cars sold today, and the norm in the after-market too.
5. Use high quality tyres from a reputable brand. Avoid cheap, unknown imports. In addition, never buy used tyres or retread your old tyres. It must be added that runflat tyres can be lifesavers in a blowout situation.
6. Check the remaining tread depth of your tyres. Not only does additional tread depth help prevent punctures, it also greatly helps grip levels. If the tread has worn out, get a new set immediately.
7. If your tyres are over 5 years / 40,000 kms old (lesser for performance rubber like the Eagle F1), you should consider replacing them. The older & more wornout that your tyre is, the higher the chance of a blowout.
8. Never overload the vehicle. Ensure that your tyre’s load rating (specified on the sidewall) and vehicle payload capacity are never exceeded.
9. Avoid approaching the ‘speed rating’ of your tyre. If you do a lot of highway travelling, ensure that your tyres have a rating well above your average highway speeds.
10. Don’t get temporary / shoddy puncture repair work done. The mushroom + plug type repair is the most recommended.
11. If a tyre has suffered sidewall damage, get rid of it. Keep in mind that driving a considerable distance on a puncture can damage the sidewall.
12. Stability Control Programs (e.g. ESP) are lifesavers in a tyre burst situation. Consider this when shopping for your next car.
13. While tyre sealants cannot prevent tyre overheating (and eventual blowout), they can fix slow punctures and thus prevent under-inflation.
14. If your car is equipped with poorly designed wheel caps, get rid of them. Some wheel caps can actually rub against the sidewall & damage it.
15. Concrete roads might make the tyre run hotter.
16. It is recommended to take a break after every 90 – 120 minutes of driving. This refreshment stop will not only do the driver some good, but also allow the tyres, brakes, clutch etc. to cool down. Give your car & tyres a visual check during these chai breaks.
Have a safe trip.