Tire Blow Out: Steps for Safe Recovery

Friday, February 1, 2013 - 2:02pm

Oh no! It's bad enough when running late or trying to find a destination, but everything else can grind to a halt when a tire blows. It may be tempting to limp along and finish the trip, but that can cause damage to wheels, or the overly brave driver.  Instead of risking car damage or personal injury, safe recovery from a tire blow out should follow these guidelines:

When the Tire Blows Out

The most important steps are to remain calm, hold the steering wheel firmly, and find a safe spot to pull over. To reduce speed, it is safest to release the gas pedal and coast rather than apply the break.  If there are several lanes in between the car and curb or breakdown lane, turn signals will alert other drivers of the lane changes. If no lane changes are necessary, turning hazard lights on will warn following drivers to be wary of the change in speed and maneuverability. Once on the shoulder, it is safe to apply the break - however, with tire tread and grip of one wheel significantly different than the other three (or more), doing so may cause a rough jerk to the right or left - so be prepared! Before exiting a vehicle with a blown out tire, make sure the car is completely off the driving surface and the car's hazard lights remain on. It may also be helpful to set the emergency break, if the car does not need to be pushed into a parking lot to be worked on.

On the Side of the Road

To stay safe, flares or reflective cones should be placed behind the vehicle to warn other drivers of the hazard. Anyone who isn't highly experienced in changing flat tires should call a professional for help, whether it's AAA, the auto maker's roadside assistance, or the insurance company (during that call, you can get insurance quotes for any damage sustained). It could prove dangerous or even fatal for an inexperienced driver to attempt roadside repairs, especially on a freeway or busy road. Barring actual tragedy, the combination of stress, frustration, and noise may simply prove too distracting for a successful tire change. It is better to wait for help; and it is best to stand away from the inoperable vehicle rather than stand around or inside it. If another car were to hit the stopped vehicle, it could become a dangerous projectile.

Helpful Hints

Popping the car hood and tying white cloth to the car antennae will alert law enforcement that help is needed. Prior to a blow out, it may be a good idea to get insurance quotes that include roadside assistance, which could be invaluable in many circumstances. Despite a tire blow out being irritating, the most important thing to remember is safety. Missing a movie or even an important meeting is worth it if it prevents a trip to the hospital, and tires can be easily replaced.  

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