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There is no doubt that a tyre burst is the biggest fear of any driver, no matter how good a driver you think you are or how safe your car is. It is very difficult to keep you car in control after a sudden tyre burst, especially if you are driving at a high speed.
And this is true whether you are driving a small car or a big SUV. Bigger SUVs tend to flip-over when you lose control after a tyre burst.
Imagine you are driving at a high speed on a highway or expressway and the tyre explodes. Unlike in the case of a tyre puncture, the air inside the tyre escapes very quickly which throws your car completely out of control. And the panic takes over; remember all this happens in a fraction of seconds, creating a perfect recipe for a deadly road accident.
This isn’t a fictitious story; every now and then there are news reports of people losing their lives because of a sudden tyre burst.
The Yamuna Expressway, which connects Greater Noida with Agra, has recently become infamous for deadly accidents caused by tyre bursts. According to news reports, around 883 people have died in the 5,783 accidents that occurred on the Yamuna Expressway between August 2012 and May 2019.
This is what Subhash Chand, Head of the Traffic Engineering and Safety (TES) division of Central Road Research Institute (CRRI) said after a recent bus accident on the Yamuna Expressway which killed 29 of the 50 passengers. “There must be awareness among the drivers that high speeding vehicles with old tyres are not the right fit for this kind of a stretch. Over-speeding on such concrete roads with old tyres will only burst them and hurt people.”
This report from Government of India classifies vehicle tyres as one of the main reasons for road accidents.
The good news is, the latest tyre technology like the tubeless tyres have reduced the chances of tyre bursts. But, even tubeless tyres can and do burst if they are not properly maintained or are excessively worn out.
Before you look at how you can prevent a tyre burst, you should first understand why tyres burst.
Let’s look at the primary reasons as to why car tyres burst.
5 Reasons Why Car Tyres Burst
1. Direct Impact
Unfortunately, the condition of a large part of roads across India is still pathetic. If you travel on the same dreaded road daily then your subconscious mind gets automatically trained to avoid those bumps and potholes. But even then you can hit an unavoidable object. Depending on the gravity of the impact and the condition of your car’s tyres this impact could result in a tyre burst.
2. Over or Under Inflation
This is by far the most common reason for a tyre burst. An under-inflated tyre means more contact of the tyre surface with the road, which results in greater friction and heat, leading to tyre burst. On the other hand, over-inflated tyres reduce braking efficiency and are prone to bursts at high speeds, resulting in accidents.
You can keep a portable car tyre inflator in your car to solve this problem.
While overloading is more common in commercial vehicles as compared to passenger vehicles. But nonetheless, you should always make sure you are not stuffing more than the recommended load. Excessive load increases the stress on the tyres which could result in a tyre burst.
4. Low-Quality or Worn-Out Tyres
Cheap quality or worn-out tyres are more prone to damage. If you notice any cuts or bulges, or the tread has completely worn out, you should get the tyres repaired or replaced immediately to avoid any possibility of tyres bursting while driving.
Tyres are the only part of a vehicle that is in direct contact with the road and therefore you should always invest in very good quality tyres only. Stay away from those cheap, unbranded or retreaded tyres.
Unlike F1 cars, passenger vehicle tyres are designed to withstand certain speed limits. Higher speed results in greater friction which increases the temperature of the tyre surface. The chances of tyres bursting increases if you are driving above this limit.
The speed rating of the tyre is mentioned next to its dimensions. In case the size specified on the tyre is “P 165/80 R14 85 T”, ‘T’ here is the speed symbol that represents the speed rating of the tyre.
Not sure what this means?
Check out the below table that lists all the symbols along with their maximum speed ratings.
|Maximum Speed Rating
Note: More and more highways and expressways are now made from cement and concrete, because of their ability to last longer than the charcoal roads. If you are driving on a road made from cement and concrete or driving on hot summer noon, then you must keep your vehicle’s speed under control because cement roads are hotter than the charcoal roads.
Now that you know all the reasons why car tyres burst, let’s look at how you can prevent a tyre burst. Because whether it is your health or the health of your car’s tyres, prevention is always better than cure.
How to Prevent a Tyre Burst
- While buying new tyres make sure you only buy good quality and branded tyres. Never compromise on the quality of tyres.
- Check tyre pressure regularly and ensure the tyres are not over or under-inflated. Always check the tyre pressure when the tyre is cold, which means after covering less than 3-5 kilometers.
- Regularly check your car’s tyres for any visual damage like cuts, bulges or worn-out tread. Repair or replace as required, never delay the repair or replace if anything such thing comes to your notice. Generally, you should ideally replace any tyre older than 6 years, irrespective of the kilometers covered.
- Never overload your car.
- Every tyre has a tread wear indicator, make sure the tires have not worn out to the level of the indicator, which is usually 1.6mm of tread thickness.
- Don’t over-speed; never go beyond the tyre’s speed rating. Especially in case of driving on concrete roads in summers, as they can get really hot.
- While on a long road-trip, take regular breaks as this helps tyres to cool.
- Don’t drive too close to the divider. Driving in the middle or left lane gives you more space to steer safe and avoid hitting the divider in case of a tyre burst.
Things to Do When Car Tyre Bursts
- The first and the most important thing to do is don’t panic, try to remain calm and try to regain control of your car.
- Do not slam on the brakes – this may sound absurd but hard braking during a tyre burst will further destabilize the car. If you notice a tyre burst, never apply the brake until you are in complete control of steering.
- Do not abruptly take the foot off the accelerator, maintain a safe driving speed.
- After the tyre burst, the car generally pulls to one side of the road, do not try to over-correct the steering. Doing this can further destabilize your car.
- If you are driving on a straight road, firmly hold on to the steering wheel and allow the car to gradually come to a stop.
Car tyre bursts can be extremely dangerous for you and other people/vehicles on the road. We believe life is too precious to be lost because of a little carelessness.
Keep a check on the health of your car’s tyres and please follow the tips given above to stay safe on the road.
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