As drivers travel down the highway, they may notice remnants of a tire that has been blown out strewn across the shoulder or even the road itself. Unfortunately, many drivers on the road don’t know how blowouts happen in the first place, let alone how to prevent them.

A tire blowout is when the tire itself bursts due to a quick decrease in air pressure. When a rapid loss of air pressure occurs, the tire can flex beyond its limits, causing the rubber to overheat. This overheating causes the rubber to begin to separate from the internal makeup of the tire (fabric and steel) resulting in a small explosion, otherwise known as a blowout.

In the automobile world, there is something known as “tire-blowout season,” which describes a period of the year where vehicles are more susceptible to experiencing a blowout. This period typically runs from around the middle of May through the early weeks of October in most states. During the Summer, motorists take long road trips, so they drive farther distances at faster speeds and tend to load their vehicles up with luggage, passengers, and other cargo. This increased wear and tear on the car can take a neglected tire and turn it into serious blow out threat.

Blowout season can be year-round for states that are in the hottest parts of the country. What does the temperature have to do with a tire? As far as blowouts are concerned, temperature can be everything. Blowouts can be caused by a variety of circumstances, but underinflation is one of the most common reasons why tires blow out. Drastic changes in temperature can result in decreased tire pressure. Have you ever gone out to your vehicle after a cold front and noticed the tire air pressure light on your dashboard is suddenly illuminated? That is because overnight, the temperature dropped greatly, causing the air inside the tire to contract, resulting in a lower overall air pressure than before. Small punctures by nails or screws that have gone unnoticed can also result in underinflation.

Having the correct air pressure in a tire is what allows it to perform at high speeds and support a high amount of weight. Between the vehicle weight itself, the passengers, and any cargo being hauled, you can see how a tire must be properly inflated to support the weight of it all. Overloading a vehicle past its recommended weight limit can be another reason why tires blow out. Lastly, hitting objects or potholes can cause impact damage either from simply hitting the object too hard or the impact resulting in a tear, causing a blowout.

This can be very dangerous to the driver and others on the road as well. When driving at high speeds, if a tire explodes, one of two things typically occurs. Either the automobile starts to slow down very quickly or begins to pull heavily to either the left or the right, depending on which side the tire blew out on. Both instances can mean disaster if the driver does not know how to handle the situation safely. Drivers who are unprepared can swerve in the wrong direction, ramming into other vehicles, people, medians, and/or guardrails. Unfortunately, there is no way to adequately prepare a driver for the shock of a blowout. The sound and the feeling of it is unprecedented, and undeniably frightening. Even the most prepared of drivers are likely to be unable to handle the situation. This makes understanding why tires blow out so important. The best way to handle a blowout is to prevent it from ever happening in the first place.