Why Tire Blowouts are So Dangerous
Tire blowouts are dangerous on any vehicle, but that danger escalates significantly on a tractor-trailer. First, the tire blowout can cause the truck driver to lose control of the rig, putting nearby motorists at risk of an accident.
Also, rubber and metal explode from a blown-out tire at great force and speed, which can penetrate the window of a passing car or cause the motorist to lose control of the vehicle. A truck’s tire is larger and filled with more air than a car’s, making the explosion that much more violent and hazardous.
Tire scraps cause continued hazards on the road. Motorists are forced to swerve around the debris, and may spin out of control if they accidently run over it. For this reason, the trucking corporation has a responsibility to immediately clean up the debris from an exploded tire and may be held liable for failing to do so.
Poor Maintenance of Truck Tires
A tire blowout should never happen if the trucking company and driver maintain the truck. Mistakes that lead to a tire blowout include:
- Over-pressurization of the tire: This might happen because of an incorrect gauge reading
- Overheating: Trucks that travel to hot environments are at risk of tire blowout, especially if the tire was filled to capacity in a cold environment
- Zipper failure: The tire can unravel if damage results in a crack or weakness
- Demounting: An improperly mounted tire might suddenly, violently fly off
- Threadbare tire: Tires should always be replaced before they become worn out and dangerous
Accidents from Tire Delamination
Tire delamination happens when the tread or rubber separates from the tire causing the tire to blow out or deflate suddenly. This can cause injury to motorists in many ways:
- The truck driver could lose control of the truck and cause an accident
- During an accident, debris from the delaminated tire can strike a motorist
- The debris from the delaminated tire can end up in the roadway and create an obstruction that causes an accident.
After an 18-wheeler has experienced a tire blowout or delamination, both the truck driver and motorists on the road are in danger. Because the tire delamination typically causes a sudden change in stability to the vehicle, it is very difficult for the truck driver to maintain control of the 18-wheeler after this has happened. Often the motorist cannot get out of the path of the 18-wheeler and the 18-wheeler driver is unable to steer the truck to avoid hitting the motorist.
Motorist can also be injured if the 18-wheeler’s tire delaminates and rubber from the defective tire flies off and strikes a car. Often, when a tire blows out or delaminates, pieces of the tire become airborne when the driver frantically tries to maneuver the 18-wheeler to a safe location or out of the flow of traffic. These airborne pieces of rubber can be large, sharp, and hot from the friction of the road. Tragically, they can injure a motorist or pedestrian if they are struck by the flying rubber.
How to Fix a Flat Tire
Having a flat tire is one of the major inconveniences of driving. When a good spare is unavailable, you either have to call a tow truck or fix the tire yourself. Luckily, the process of fixing it yourself is relatively straightforward and requires only a few tools.
Finding the Leak
- Inflate the tire.
In order to find a leak the tire must be properly pressurized. You should inflate your tire with air until it reaches the appropriate pressure (measured in psi) specified in your vehicle’s service manual.
- Visually inspect the tire.
Before moving on to more time consuming techniques, you should take a moment to look at your tire. If you notice any holes, cuts, or objects protruding from tire then you have found your leak.
- Listen for a hissing sound. Even if you aren’t able to see the problem right away you might be able to hear it. A hissing sound is a clear sign that air is leaking from your tire, and can help you locate the leak.
- Feel around the tire for air.
If you run your hands over the tire carefully you may feel the leak even if you can’t hear or see it.
- Mix soap and water.
If you followed the steps above and you were not able to easily find the leak don’t fear. Spraying the tire with a little soapy water or window cleaner may help. If you see bubbling at any place on the surface of the tire then you have found your leak.
- Cover the tire with the soap and water solution.
You can use a spray bottle to spray the tire, or if a spray bottle isn’t available you can just pour the mixture over the tire.
- Watch for bubbles.
As air escapes the tire and encounters the soapy water mixture it will form soap bubbles. If you notice the soapy water bubbling at any particular place on the tire, you have found your leak.
Fixing the Leak with Tire Puncture Sealants
- Read the directions on the can of sealant you have brought.
Various manufacturers have slightly different steps and required amounts you should put in. However, there are some steps that are generally the same.
- Pull out any object that has punctured your tire.
This may or may not be necessary depending on why your tire is flat.
- Turn the wheel until the valve is at the top of the wheel.
Unscrew your valve cap. You will put the sealant in the same way that you would inflate your tire with air.
- Attach the nozzle of the product to the valve stem.
Once you have it on securely, press a button to release the contents.
- Drive your car.
You need to drive your car to rotate the tire. This allows the sealant to be distributed evenly inside the tire and prevents it from forming a heavy lump inside the tire.
- Replace your tire.
Tire sealants are great to bail you out in a major crisis. Unfortunately they are only good for 3 days or 100 miles, whichever comes first. You should replace your tire before then to avoid possible problems.