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How to Survive a Blowout

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How to Survive a Blowout

Post by SMOKNZ on September 12th 2011, 8:07 pm



Iíve suffered dozens of tire blowouts while driving and as a passenger. Iím not unlucky, buy bad tires, ride with slackers, or fail to check my tire pressure. These all were intentional blowouts for testing or demonstrations for a tire company.

On-Purpose Explosions

Some plastic explosive and a detonator cap on the tire sidewall do an excellent job of simulating the startling noise and instant loss of air pressure of a real blowout. The demonstrations were done on both front and rear tires on both front- and rear-drive passenger cars and sport-utility vehicles. No one ever lost control.

For testing, as well as videos to record what happens when the wrong thing is done, I intentionally lost control several times. (ďWe need someone to do something really dangerous that weíre not sure will end wellÖ Hey, Mac!Ē ďIím gonna be on TV? Hey yíall watch this.Ē)

In the pre-blowout classroom, I told the students they would receive a C+ if they did absolutely nothing at all. (Itís kinda like being in a college class with football players: Non-athletes will get a C+ if they just show up because the starting running back is getting a C regardless. I wonít name the university where I had this experience except to say itís not Mr. Issippi.)

Do This, Donít Do That

If you suffer a tire blowout or tread separation (where the tread flies off the tire carcass but the tire doesnít immediately deflate), youíll get a passing grade if you drive straight down your lane and allow your vehicle to slow to what will seem like a crawling pace (about 30 mph) before you gently turn toward the shoulder.

Let me repeat that: DRIVE STRAIGHT DOWN YOUR LANE. A blown tire has so much drag that the vehicle WILL slow down even if you leave your foot on the accelerator. (If you have ABS and stability control, Iíll give you a ďC minusĒ if you brake lightly while keeping the steering wheel pointed straight ahead. Whatever you do, DO NOT turn the wheel at speed. Thatíll get you and Fóand probably worse.

If you lift off the accelerator and stay away from the brake while driving straight down your lane, you get a B. Oh yeah, you get an ďFĒ if you turn the wheel at speed.

To get an A youíve got to press the accelerator (yes, the accelerator) for a very short momentóno more than two secondsóthe instant you hear the boom. Then you must drive straight down your lane while smoooothly releasing the accelerator. Allow the car to coast to a slow speed (25 or 30 mph is good) before GENTLY turning toward the shoulder of the road. If this technique only locks up your mind for a few seconds (while you drive straight), itís a success.

However, pressing the accelerator for an instant will stabilize the car. And it wonít gain speed: A blown tire has so much drag that even at full throttle the car will barely maintain its pace in top gear. Throw all the ďeven ifsĒ at me you like. This technique works. Almost all highway blowouts happen while the car is traveling in a straight line, in very hot ambient temperature, with a tire thatís under-inflated, run under-inflated or damaged. May to October in southern states is Blowout Season. A tread separation is a bit different. Iíll describe it in another article. But these techniques work for those, too. Even if.

You get a huge red F if you turn the wheel at speed (I canít say this enough), especially if a rear tire has blown. If you turn right with a blown left rear tire, the car will spin out so fast you wonít believe it. I didnít believe it! On a public road youíll likely leave the pavement, hit something and flip. Even if.

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Re: How to Survive a Blowout

Post by Newbie Nate on September 14th 2011, 6:09 am

Thanks! It's nice to get the official advice.

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