It’s one of those situations that make you think ‘there for the grace of God go I’
Strips of rubber scattered across the motorway or on the hard shoulder meaning a vehicle – thankfully not yours – has had a tyre blow out.
It’s scary enough when it’s not you, imagine what it must be like for the driver of the vehicle concerned. Seat of the pants action doesn’t come into it. This was a situation experienced by comedian Jason Manford who, in 2010, escaped unscathed when his driver had both front tyres blow out on him while travelling at 70mph on the M6.
Manford walked away shaken but unhurt largely thanks to the skill of his driver, tour manager Alex Adamson, who managed to cross 3 lanes in 5 seconds and yet bring the car to a safe halt on the hard shoulder. Others are not so lucky.
So what causes a tyre to suddenly disintegrate?
One of the most common reasons is under inflation. This could be the result of a slow puncture, repeatedly bumping into kerbs or regularly parking with half the tyre hanging over the kerb or it could be simply poor tyre maintenance.
An under inflated tyre can bulge and ripple at high speed leading to friction causing the tyre to burst.
The ‘good news’, if that’s what it can be called, is that before a tyre bursts there is period of neglect and checking your tyres on a regular basis will go some way to avoiding the horror of a high speed blow out.
But what do you do if you have a sudden tyre burst?
Motoring organisations and major tyre companies offer tips should you ever be unlucky to have a tyre blow out on you. The first thing, they say, is don’t panic. As if that was ever going to be an option. But keeping calm and in control is the key to a safe response. Most people when confronted with a blow-out will hit the brakes and steer into the skid.
However, both actions could be disastrous.
Braking suddenly, especially for a front tyre blow out could result in a loss of control and the possibility of rolling the car or crashing into another vehicle. If you do touch the brakes do it gently but preferably let the car slow down on its own, changing down a gear or pulling repeatedly on the hand brake if need be.
In a front tyre blow out, the vehicle will tend to pull severely to one side. The answer here is to keep a firm grip on the steering wheel and attempt to correct the pull until the vehicle slows down enough to move to the hard shoulder while maintaining momentum using a light touch on the accelerator pedal.
If it’s a rear tyre blow out, the vehicle will weave about and again it is recommended to avoid sudden braking and keep a firm hold on the steering wheel letting the car slow down on its own. Of course, this assumes you have a clear run in front of you. Things will be very different if you have another vehicle or central reservation looming up on you. Should you need to touch the brakes, do it gently is the message. In a rear wheel blow out, experts say consider accelerating slightly to offset the risk of a side slide with gently being the key word.
Minimise the risk of a blow out with regularly maintained tyres.
That’s the message from Grahams Tyres. We recommend checking your tyre pressure every week and especially before a long journey particularly if using motorways, do a visual check for any damage every time you get in your car and fit the same brand on each axle.
Look after your tyres and they will look after you.