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  Tyre knowledge
(Updated: 19/12/2016)

The fatal accident on 11 December 2016 along LPT2 which claimed 6 innocent lives was truly a gruesome reminder of what may happen to any of us. May the families involved find solace and may their departed ones be in Allah's care.

Media reports said that the vehicle experienced a tyre burst or blowout, which caused it to lose control. Worried that such an accident might befall my family, relatives and friends, I decided to seek information on what are the potential causes of a tyre blowout and how to react when faced with one.

Causes of a Tyre Blowout :

1)  About 3/4 of tyre blowouts are due to under-inflation of tyres. Under-inflated tyres suffer excessive flexing and overheating. On long journeys, especially on highways, make it a habit to do visual inspection of your tyres before starting your journey and after every rest stop.

2) Old tyres that are 5 years/40,000 kilometers (25,000 mi) old have higher risk of a tyre blowout.

3) Prolonged high-speed driving on highways cause tyres and the air within them to heat up and expand. It is good to take a short break after a few hours of driving to let the tyres and brakes cool down. It will also give the driver a chance to refresh and visually inspects the car and tyres before continuing the journey.

4) Tyre damage, cuts and bulges can also cause a tyre blowout. Hitting roadside curbs, road dividers and large potholes can damage tyre sidewalls. Manufacturing defects can also cause tyre to deform and bulge. Periodically inspect tyres for these deformities.

5) Vehicle overload can also cause a tyre blowout. Ensure that your tyre load index specified on the sidewall and vehicle payload capacity are never exceeded. Tyre load index ranges from an index of 62 for a 265 kg load to an index of 126 for a 1700 kg load.

6) Driving at speeds above the speed rating of your tyres can cause tyre blowouts. Observe the speed rating of tyres recommended by your car manufacturers. These are tyre speed ratings and (maximum speed in kph) of tyres : N(140), P(150), Q(160), R(170), S(180), T(190), U(200), H(210), V(240), Z(240+), W(270), Y(300).

7) Bald tyres can also be the cause of tyre blowouts. The legal limit for tyre tread depth is 1.6 mm across 75% of the tyre width. Sometimes, tyres can wear off unevenly. While the outside treads still looks good, the inside treads may have worn out.

8) Temporary or shoddy puncture repair work can also contribute to a tyre blowout. The "mushroom and plug" type repair is the most recommended.

9) The vehicle's stability control programme (e.g. ESP) are lifesavers in a tyre blowout situation. Consider this when shopping for your next car.

How to Handle a Tyre Blowout

1) Do not slam on the brake pedal. Most people will tend to slam the brakes in an emergency. However, hard braking is the worst thing you can do in a tyre blowout as this will unstabilize the moving vehicle and throw it out of control. You may use engine braking by shifting to a lower gear. Apply your brakes lightly when your vehicle has slowed down.

2) Do not also abruptly take your foot off the accelerator. You should maintain accelerator input momentarily, before releasing it gradually. The deceleration force from a blown out tyre is so strong that it will slow down your car rapidly. If you have engaged cruise control, be sure to disengage it immediately.

3) Your car will be pulled in the direction of the blown out tyre. Try to keep the vehicle pointed straight. Cornering or turning with a blown tyre will greatly upset the car’s composure.

4) Do not attempt to over-correct. A sharp yank of the steering wheel can result in a vehicle spin and rollover.

Of course, this is all easier said than done. However, it may help to be aware of these pointers so that God may help us to react accordingly in the event of such an emergency. Stay safe on the road. Yes, you may share this posting if you wish.

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