You already know that the risk of tires bursting increases in the summer months, but did you know that driving at high speeds can yield the same dangerous result as well?
Why tires burst at high speeds
High-speed driving leads to a greater chance of tire burst (aka tire blowout) than at low speeds. The centrifugal force–the apparent force that pushes energy outward from a body that revolves around a center–can become immense, as does the heat buildup caused by the friction between the tire and the road. Prolonged exposure to these conditions will soften and weaken the tire rubber, putting the tire at risk of immediate failure. The problem can be compounded when tires are over-inflated, your car is overloaded, or the weather is too hot. If you can’t imagine the dangers that a tire burst can put you in, check out this video of a track-only Porsche 911 RSR driven by career racer Cory Friedman blowing its right rear tire during a race. The video is a few years old, taken in 2015 during the Porsche Club of America‘s October leg that year. Still, that doesn’t make it any less relevant today.
How to handle a tire burst at high speeds
If you are driving at over 120 kph and you suddenly hear a tire blowing out, here’s what you should do:
- Stay as calm as possible and firmly grip the steering wheel with both hands. Prevent it from pulling you to one side as best you can. Keep the car moving forward.
- Three things you should never do: Don’t step on the brakes. Don’t turn the steering wheel. And don’t remove your foot off the accelerator. Do any of these and your vehicle could suddenly spin out.
- If you are losing control of your vehicle, gently increase your speed. This may seem contrary to what common sense would suggest, but the forward momentum caused by going faster can help you regain control of your vehicle. Once you have your car’s direction in control, remove your foot from the gas pedal very slowly. If your car is a manual, make sure to change to lower gears as you decelerate.
- Let the car slow itself down. The blown tire will naturally do this for you. As your car decelerates, do your best to keep your vehicle from pulling to one side.
- Once your speed drops to 50 kph, you can step on the brakes gently. At about 30 kph, it’s safe to turn your steering wheel and direct your vehicle off the road.
Stay safe by not overspeeding
A tire burst at high speeds can be catastrophic. Unless you’re a professional racer and you’re driving on a race track, there’s really no good reason for you to push your car over the speed limit. Stick to a manageable speed to protect your tires, your car, and yourself.