Do not panic when you experience a burst tyre while driving. And do not slam the brakes, either! Internalise these tips instead.
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The sight of pieces of tyre rubber on the road may fill us with dread that something similar could happen to us. When tyres run flat, there is still a chance of driving slowly to a petrol station or workshop. But if your tyre bursts from the impact of, say, hitting a pothole or the kerb, your car will very likely start to weave about, resulting in a potentially dangerous situation.
There have been improvements in tyre technology — such as run-flat and self-sealing tyres — that have significantly lowered the chances of getting a blown or burst tyre. But it helps to be prepared just in case it happens to you.
Our immediate reaction to a tyre bursting may be to slam the brakes, but — however counter-intuitive it sounds — acting the exact opposite way is what we should do! Don’t apply the brakes; instead, keep driving your car as you would normally.
Try to correct your steering and don’t veer off the road immediately to inspect the damage. If you feel a drag that is pulling your car back, accelerate gently to make up for it; this is because, in order to control your car, your wheels need to continue moving. Once your car is under control, ease off the accelerator and brake lightly to slow down.
Once you have slowed down, pull over safely to the side of the road. If you are aware of which side the burst tyre is on, stop such that the damaged tyre is away from oncoming traffic. If you have a spare tyre and know how to change, do so only if you are not in any danger from traffic, and follow the necessary safety procedures.
Although the idea of a burst tyre is something kept at the back of our minds, here are some tips to help prevent such an experience:
1. Car tyres age even when not driven. The exterior may look good, but the interior rubber could have deteriorated. It is recommended that tyres get replaced every three to five years or so. You should also occasionally check that the tyre tread is at least 2mm deep. You can check how close you are to this legal limit by comparing the tread on a tyre against the tyre’s treadwear indicator, which is a small raised bump at the bottom of the groove.
2. A majority of burst tyres actually result from under-inflation. With low tyre pressure, more of the tyre’s surface comes in contact with the road, leading to excessive flexing of the tyre sidewalls. This increased friction results in overheating and sometimes premature bursting.
3. Driving at excessive speed is always a concern, but doing so continuously causes the tyres to heat up, expanding the air inside and increasing the tyre pressure. Also, be aware that tyres do have speed ratings — check them so that you do not go beyond what your tyres are built for. The speed rating is indicated by the last alphabet on the line of text etched on your tyre sidewall. For example, if the line reads 225/55R17 97 T, the tyre’s speed rating is T and it translates to a maximum speed of 190km/h. As a guide, the maximum speed for each letter is as follows:
- Q 160km/h
- R 170km/h
- S 180km/h
- T 190km/h
- H 210km/h
- V 240km/h
- W 270km/h
- Y is 300km/h
4. Overloading your tyres can be dangerous as it builds up excessive heat in the tyre and could lead to failure. To determine the maximum passenger and cargo load for your vehicle, check the vehicle owner’s manual or the load rating of your tyres. You can check your car’s load index indicated on the tyre wall.
5. Balding tyres are easily punctured, and are dangerous in wet conditions, which can result in hydroplaning. Furthermore, a rock or a sharp object could easily burst the tyres.
Caught with a flat or busted tyre? AA Singapore’s 24-hour Roadside Assistance Service is a reliable partner for any vehicle emergency; with the AA Singapore app, help is just a click away on your mobile phone!