Truck Tire Blowout Causes
A tire blowout is when a tire quickly loses air pressure so severely that it “blows” and the driver loses control. Although modern tires are more reliable than ever and blowouts don’t happen as much as they used to, they definitely still occur and can quickly create a dangerous situation.
In many cases, they lead to devastating truck accidents, especially when the truck is moving at a high speed. Sadly, 738 motor vehicle traffic fatalities involved tire-related crashes in 2017.
If you’ve ever driven on the highway or Interstate and have noticed scattered remains of tires, you’ve seen the leftovers of a tire blowout. In this post, we’ll discuss some common tire blowout causes, the types of accidents that can occur and what truck drivers should do if a tire blows out.
Causes of Truck Tire Explosions
There are a lot of factors that can contribute to a tire blowout. In some cases, the driver is completely at fault, and it’s due to an oversight on their end. Other times, the problem may lie solely in the tire itself. Here are some of the most common reasons behind blowouts.
Often, the blowout will occur simply because the driver didn’t properly inflate their truck’s tires or they failed to change a tire that’s overworn. In both of these scenarios, a blowout can stem from tread separation, which causes the tire to rapidly lose air pressure and explode.
It’s also common for the problem to lie within the tire itself. Major defects can lead to bead failures, sidewall zipper failures, tread separation, and tire shredding. The likelihood of this happening increases when a truck has been driven in adverse conditions like on bumpy roads, over potholes or over broken glass. Tire defects can also lead to recalls of commercial trucks that are using bad tires. Because tire manufacturers are responsible for producing a safe, reliable product, they must heed tire recalls.
Heat is another huge factor. Driving on the road for long periods of time in high temperatures puts a strain on tires and makes them much more susceptible to blowouts. As you might imagine, summer is the time of year when tire blowouts happen most frequently. The period between mid-May and early October has even been dubbed “tire blowout season” by some.
Cargo loading errors are a huge cause of tire blowouts. That’s why each state has a maximum gross weight in pounds or kilograms that a truck can carry when driving on the Interstate System. Truckers aren’t allowed to carry any additional cargo beyond their truck’s maximum capacity. However, if they overload it, the odds of a tire blowout increase significantly.
The Wrong Tires
Other times, a tire blowout can be the result of a driver using mismatched tires or the wrong size of tires. Again, this falls in the hands of the person driving the truck, and they need to ensure that all tires are properly fitted.
Bad Brakes and Bad Braking Practices
There’s also a correlation between worn brakes and improper braking and tire blowouts. Brake failure is one part of the equation in terms of how brakes can lead to blowouts. For instance, applying the brakes too much causes the tread to quickly wear down and may cause it to explode. Needless to say, driving down steep grades where frequent braking is required can lead to issues. That’s why drivers should shift down to the lowest gear when traveling down mountains.
Potholes and Bad Weather
These are two factors that are completely out of a driver’s control. Unfortunately, less than ideal conditions are inevitable, especially if a trucker is making long hauls. However, they should recognize the negative impact that potholes and bad weather can have and check their tires regularly under these circumstances.
Common Causes of Truck Tire Explosions
A truck tire explosion can be the result of several different causes. As mentioned, these accidents often occur when the air pressure in a tire is not correct. However, many tire blowouts are not caused by just low tire pressure. The following is a list of common causes of truck tire explosions.
Inadequate Truck Maintenance
The average truck driver will travel hundreds of miles every week to pick up or make deliveries. With this amount of traveling, it is reasonable to perform routine maintenance on a truck and the truck’s tires. Unfortunately, some trucking companies may not perform adequate maintenance on their fleet of vehicles. This can result in trucks being equipped with tires that may be underinflated or tires that are severely worn down. A trucking company that does not perform maintenance on their vehicles may be held liable for the injuries of an innocent motorist whose injuries could have been avoided.
Trucking companies earn their money by transporting cargo for their customers. When a trailer is fully loaded with items to be delivered, this can make a truck maneuver slower than usual. Some unscrupulous trucking companies may push the limit of a trailer so that they could earn more profits from deliveries. When the maximum weight of a truck trailer is exceeded, this can result in a truck tire explosion due to all the added pressure on a tire.
The additional trailer weight is hazardous to passenger vehicles because it will make it easier for a truck to crush other vehicles that may only weigh a few tons. To put that into perspective, an overloaded truck trailer can reach weights well over 50,000 pounds. If a truck of this size collides with a passenger vehicle, it is very likely that a fatal injury may occur.
Nearly every person has been on the highway next to a large truck that appears to be driving well over the speed limit. This can be frightening for a motorist that is driving next to a truck because if the driver were to lose control, a serious trucking accident might occur. Unfortunately, some truck drivers will drive over the speed limit while being completely unaware that their tires may be overinflated or underinflated. Speeding and hitting debris in the road can cause a tire blowout if the tires were already extremely worn down.
There are many other causes of truck tire blowouts not listed here. For example, defective tires sold by a manufacturer often play a role in many truck tire blowout cases. Our firm is here to help you file a claim against any party responsible for your accident.
Tire Inspection Requirements
The FMCSR requires drivers to do a pre-trip and post-trip inspection before and after every trip. But do you really know what that means? A proper inspection requires way more than just walking around, looking, and kicking the tires. The time it takes might be the very reason that truck drivers sometimes fail to do a proper inspection.
First off, to do a proper truck tire inspection, the drive needs to have the proper tools. The truck driver needs to have a working air gauge, a tread depth gauge, a 3/8 inch bulge gauge, a blunt probe, pliers, and chalk or a crayon to mark issues in tires. Each of these tools enables the driver to inspect things that the naked eye cannot discern on visual inspection.
What do the numbers on my tire mean?
At first glance, you look at the sidewall of your tire and think, “’Do I need a super secret decoder ring to read this?” In addition to the model name of the tire there is a series of numbers that at first, you don’t deem important. However, these numbers are extremely helpful, especially when it’s time to replace your tires. Here’s a quick breakdown to help you decipher one of the best kept secrets in the automotive world.
Example: P225/60/R16 94V
P identifies your tire as a Passenger Tire. The P stands for PMetric. If your tire size starts with LT rather than a P then it identifies the tire as a Light Truck tire.
225 identifies the tire section width, which is the measurement of the tire from sidewall to sidewall in millimeters. This measurement varies depending on the rim to which it is fitted.
(There are 25.4 millimeters per 1 inch.)
60 is the two-figure aspect ratio. This percentage compares the tire’s section height with the tire’s section width. For example, this aspect ratio of 60 means that the tire’s section height is 60% of the tire’s section width.
R indicates the construction used within the tires casing. R stands for radial construction. B means belted bias and D stands for diagonal bias construction.
16 The last dimension listed in the size is the diameter of the wheel rim, which is most often measured in inches.
That this tire is meant for Light Truck
If a tire size reads, LT235/75R15 104/101S, the LT indicates that this tire is meant for Light Truck use. These tires are made for light-duty and heavy-duty pickup trucks (typically ½ ton, ¾ ton, or 1-ton load capacity), SUVs and vans. These tires fall into one of three categories:
Numeric– designed to carry heavy cargo loads and/or tow trailers.
Wide Base – designed to carry heavy cargo loads and/or tow trailers on a wheel rim with a diameter of 16.5 inches.
Flotation – wider, oversized tires designed to carry heavy cargo loads and/or tow trailers on loose surfaces such as sand, gravel, or dirt.
Tires beginning with a ST (for example ST175/80R13) indicate a Special Trailer tire and should only be used on car, boat or utility trailers.