Surviving a tire blowout

Surviving a tire blowout

By Russ and Tiña De Maris

“Tire blowout: A rapid loss of inflation pressure of a pneumatic tire leading to an explosion.” – Wikipedia

blown tireHaving a blowout while driving your car can be a nerve-racking experience. Now, in your mind, put yourself behind the wheel of a motorhome and the gut-wrenching imagery increases exponentially. Still, a blown tire on an RV, regardless of its size or type, is not a “game-ender.” Keeping a cool head and reacting properly can mean a safe — and stable — outcome. It’s a matter of understanding and applying some simple rules.

First, prepare yourself, and your motorhome. Blown tires on RVs are most likely to occur because either the tire was overloaded, or underinflated. It’s wise to weigh EACH tire on your rig to ensure it is not beyond its rated weight. On the road, it’s best to check your tire pressure daily, before you hit the road. Test your tire pressure COLD — that is, before you’ve driven on it that day.

Next, once in the driver seat, ALWAYS buckle your seat belt. This isn’t just to protect you in case of an accident, it could well PREVENT an accident. If you blow a tire, you’ll need to stay fixed firmly in the driver seat, not sloshing around. Properly adjusted, the seat belt will help keep you where you belong — behind the wheel and in control.

So when the awful thing happens, what’s to do? It’s probably counterintuitive. Most of us, on hearing a blown tire and feeling the reaction, want to stop, NOW! That’s the WRONG thing to do. Your RV has been moving forward happily, not giving you any trouble. Your control of the RV is partially due to the forward momentum. When a tire blows, the rig will naturally pull in the direction of the blown tire — off the road, or possibly into oncoming traffic.

Getting off the gas or stepping on the brake simply gives more “force” to the pull of the blown tire. The thing to do is to actually step on the accelerator. You’re not trying to speed up dramatically, but by increasing the forward momentum, you are actually helping to keep the rig stable. At the same time, you’ll want to steer to correct for the “pull” of the vehicle. This part you already know — when a side wind pushes against the rig and steering is affected, you automatically correct for it with the steering wheel. The same is true for the force of a blown tire — correct with the steering wheel.

Once you have the RV back in control (and it may take some effort with the steering), THEN you can start planning an out. Look for a safe place to pull the rig over and get off the road. You can moderate your speed, simply by moderating how much you’re mashing on the accelerator. Make a controlled pull off, and stop the rig.

These simple rules for handling a blowout apply in all situations. It doesn’t matter if the blown tire is up front on a “steering” wheel, or on a rear “drive wheel,” on a straight stretch, or in a curve. Apply these rules, and your chances of coming to a safe stop are greatly enhanced.

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4 thoughts on “Surviving a tire blowout

  1. Very good article and comments

    The third and regardless of how often you check your tires air pressure is striking something on the roadway. Following to close or narrow highways you may not be able to avert hitting objects and severely damaging a tire causing a blowout. When you have a blowout be prepared (as much as you can be) for a very loud explosion and in most cases major damage to your RV. The lesson we learn when we first started to drive is very important, that is hand placement on the steering wheel, never place hands/arms inside the steering wheel, placing hands at 10 & 2 will afford you the best chance of keeping your vehicle under control regardless if your first instinct is to hit the brakes. I would say most RV owners have never weighed their motorhome and just as many never check the air pressure on a “daily” basis. Proper tire inflation is #1 on your pre-check list. Most tire dealers will check yours for free, no excuse. I speak from experience, right front tire blowout, very narrow single lane highway, no shoulder, towing a vehicle and $20 thousand dollars damage to motorhome. It could of been worse keep it upright and on the highway. We could talk about head-on collision in a motorhome, but that a story for another time.

  2. Mark Disosway

    When Dynamax shipped my 2015 REV24RB the rear axle weight was only 80 lb under GAWR. As soon as I added water, propane, groceries, supplies, and passengers I was over Dodge RAM Promaster GAWR by 800 lb. And tires overloaded! I think this is an RV industry problem. The manufacturers design vehicles with overweight rear axles and tires. Maybe I should carry all 6 passengers in the front seat instead of using the seats Dynamax installed seat belts? And put the refrigerator food in the front seats when driving?

  3. RICHARD ACKROYD

    Russ / Tina, have you any idea when the tire video was made please.
    To me it looks VERY old and motor homes have chassis have changed a great deal in the last 15 years. We now have IFS, ABS, air bag suspension to name just three. I have a Safe-t-plus on my 40ft class A diesel pusher and have had 2 front tire blowouts and on both occasions brought the coach to an easy controlled stop without accelerating.
    Sometimes we need to check old ideas just to make sure they are still relevant

    Richard..

  4. Clay Causey

    Been there, done that. First reaction is the brake pedal. Please watch video’s of how to handle a blow out and get the life saving Saf t plus. It works, saved our lives and coach with moderate damage.

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