How to handle a tire blowout – or avoid one in the first place

How to handle a tire blowout – or avoid one in the first place

Tire blowout, replacing tire

Though many drivers – for the most part – will naturally get on with the task at hand when at the wheel, there are always dangers when on the road.

One such risk is that of a tire blowout whilst on the move – the prospect of the very sudden destruction of one of your vehicle’s tires is frightening, to say the least.

For anyone concerned about such incidents unfolding – or weren’t and now are…  – let’s dive into what can cause a tire blowout, and how you might be able to avoid them as much as possible.

Is a tire blowout the same as a puncture?

Before we get going, let’s just quickly explain the differences between a tire blowout and a puncture, as they are quite different in nature.

Punctured tire – In the situation of a tire being punctured, the pressure loss is slow, or at least at lot slower than a blowout. The air will escape progressively until the tire becomes flat, at which point you’ll certainly know you have a punctured tire.

If noticed early on, a punctured tire can be easily dealt with by either putting in a temporary repair until you can get to a garage, or replace it there and then with a spare you might have.

Tire blowout – This is where things happen much more suddenly, with the tire’s composition very quickly degrades. Not only will there be an initial bang as the tire is destroyed, but your ability to handle the car as normal will immediately get harder.

Not only will the tire become heavily damaged during a blowout, but the wheel itself can also be affected by the tire’s degradation, especially if the blowout happens at speed.

What causes a tire blowout?


This is the most common cause of a tire blowout, and is down to the under-inflation of the tire allowing it to bulge under the vehicle’s weight and bounce around as a result.

This itself leads to a tremendous amount of friction and heat that will eventually lead to the tire getting weaker and weaker, until it quite literally bursts and you have a blowout.

Such a situation can easily be avoided if you keep your tire pressures in check on a regular basis, especially if you’re a high-mileage driver.

Overloaded vehicle

It is important to know that tires are built specifically to endure a maximum load – if you go over the designated weight, you are risking problems such as a tire blowout.

This is especially the case if you combine overloading the vehicle with an under-inflated tire.

If at any time you’re even the slightest bit concerned that your vehicle could be overloaded in regards to the tires – or just in general – it can be very prudent to check aspects such as your tires’ maximum load ability.

Potholes and kerbs

We all know potholes are a menace, but they are especially so when it comes to potentially ruining your tires.

Run over a particularly mean pothole, and at speed, then you’ll certainly add to the risk of a tire blowout.

The same logic is applied to kerbs – hit one hard and fast enough, and that tire might not stand a chance.

What should you do if you have a tire blowout?

Here are four essential tips for handling a tire blowout – some may seem easier than others given how scary a scenario a burst tire can be, but they will go some way to making a bad situation that little bit more manageable.

Keep calm – OK, so right away this one feels a bit silly to say, but panicking at the wheel in the midst of a tire blowout will only make things worse, and staying as calm as possible will help keep the situation as safe as it can be.

Firm hand on the wheel – It’s likely that, immediately following a tire blowout, your control of the vehicle will diminish. With this in mind, having the maximum amount of input on the steering wheel will help massively, so hold on tight.

Light on the brakes – Again, keeping as much control as possible during a tire blowout is paramount, and stamping on the brakes will only exacerbate proceedings. So try not to instinctively go hard on the left pedal, and instead apply the brakes gently.

Pull over – Once you have the vehicle under control, and you’ve been able to bring it down to a low speed, now is the time to look for somewhere to safely pull over and stop the vehicle.

Once stopped, assess the damage in a safe manner, keeping aware of other road users.

It might be that you’re able to replace the wheel with your spare, but if any damage has been done to the surrounding area or components, you may be better off requesting a recovery vehicle.