There is no doubt that tyre blowout ranks the highest on any highway driver’s list of fears. With good reason, as tyre burst could lead to a complete loss of car control. With SUVs and MUVs, there is the possibility of a flip-over, too. A blowout is dangerous no matter how good a driver you are or how safe your car is.
The good news is, with tyre technology continually improving, blowouts are becoming an infrequent occurrence. Still, they do happen and it's best that you know what to do if you suffer one.
STEPS 1: Start with maintaining a safe driving speed; there are just no two sides to this.The lower your speed, the higher your chance of survival. A blowout at 80–90 km/h (50–56 mph) will be far less dramatic than one at 140–150 km/h (87–93 mph). Indeed, if you survive a tyre burst at 150 km/h (93 mph), consider it a gift of God.
STEP 2: Do not slam on the brake pedal. Of course, this is easier said than done, as our brains are hardwired to instinctively jam the brake pedal in an emergency. Hard braking is actually the worst thing you can do as it will further imbalance the vehicle and throw it out of control.
STEP 3: Don’t abruptly take your foot off the accelerator. Do it slowly and gradually. In fact, Michelin recommends that you maintain accelerator input momentarily, before releasing it slowly. The deceleration force from a blown tyre is so strong that your car will anyway slow down rapidly. If you have engaged cruise control, be sure to disengage it immediately.
STEP 4: Try your best to keep the vehicle pointed straight. Cornering or turning with a blown tyre will greatly upset the car’s composure. If your car is pulling to one side, you might need to pull the steering in the opposite direction to keep it going straight. This is critical, else you risk drifting into the road divider or worse still, the opposite lane.
STEP 5: Do not attempt to over-correct. The key is to maintain the vehicle’s stability. A sharp yank of the steering wheel can result in a rollover. Even when you have gained control and are slowly moving to a safe parking spot, do so with the mildest steering inputs possible.
STEPS 6: Allow the vehicle to gradually coast to a stop. Use engine braking if necessary. Lightly engage the brakes only when your car has decelerated to a slow speed. Use the turn indicators and pull over safely off the road. Drive on the bare metal wheel if you have to, but do not stop in the middle of the road as you run the risk of getting rear-ended by a speeding car. Remember to activate your hazard lights when stopped.