Having a puncture whilst driving can be a terrifying experience and having a tyre blowout can be potentially fatal. That’s why knowing what to do in this situation can be the difference between life and death.
Your natural instincts will either save you or harm you. As it is a natural reaction to a dangerous situation our instincts kick in and we try to protect our self. So if our car swerves to the left we immediately turn the steering wheel to the right, also if our car goes out of control we tend to slam on the brakes and take our foot off the accelerator. The advice we give you here will go against your natural reactions, however, it is important to be aware of what to do in these random occurrences and being aware is half the battle.
A puncture while driving
Generally, you may experience a slow puncture where the tyre is damaged and the air is slowly released from the tyre. This can be for many reasons including a faulty valve or a small cut in the tyre. This is a normal puncture and can be dealt with comfortably by gently steering to the side of the road and replacing your tyre.
A blowout while driving
A blowout can be described as the sudden release of air from a tyre usually due to a catastrophic collapse of the integrity of the tyre. The main reasons for a blowout occur due to underinflation, or damage directly caused by hitting a pothole or kerbing.
Indications of a puncture while driving
You will notice a shuddering effect from the steering wheel or even feel like your car is wobbling.
You will notice that the steering becomes more heavy and difficult, associated with a slow tyre deflation/slow puncture.
CAR DRAGS TO THE LEFT/RIGHT
Partial tyre deflation gives the effect of the car being pulled to the left or right.
VIOLENT SWERVE TO LEFT/RIGHT
Normally associated with a blow out at speed, this is when your tyre bursts or disintegrates on the puncture.
Now for the advice
- As in any emergency, the key is to try to stay calm and to react in the correct manner for the circumstances you find yourself in.
- Your car relies on four rather small rubber contact areas to stay on the surface of the road. When you lose a tire, you’ve not only lost up to 25 per cent of your connection to the road, you have also altered the way the vehicle will handle.
- A puncture can lead to loss of stability and directional control; make sure you do not force the car to go in the direction you want by making any sudden turn of the steering wheel.
- The most important thing is to maintain or regain control of your vehicle. You want to keep it on the road, pointed in the right direction, and to avoid swerving into other traffic or off the road.
- Grip the steering wheel with both hands and concentrate on the road ahead whilst looking in your mirrors to ascertain a safe escape route.
- How you react in the first few seconds of a puncture are crucial. Do not take your foot off the accelerator, as rapidly releasing the accelerator causes the vehicle to transfer more of its weight from the rear tires to the front tires.
- If you feel the car swerve, instead of taking your foot off the accelerator, tap it gently to either maintain your current speed or to increase it very slightly. We know that this is against your natural instinct but along with RoadDriver, Michelin believes that this action for the first few seconds of a puncture will help maintain or regain control of your car.
- Avoid the temptation to slam on the brakes, sudden braking on a front punctured tyre will increase the weight and forward motion of the vehicle on to the flat tire or worse still the bare wheel rim. This action will either cause the vehicle to swerve in the direction of the punctured tyre or cause the rim to dig into the tarmac which could flip the car.
- In a rear tire puncture, sudden or heavy braking will increase the drag factor and will throw the vehicle off balance, making steering difficult and is likely to make the car swerve or fishtail out of control which can result in a 360-degree spin.
- If possible indicate left and try to gently steer the car in a steady direction towards the side of the road.
- Your aim is to try to bring your car to a controlled stop either in a safe area of the road or on the motorway emergency hard shoulder.
- Once you have your car under control: In an automatic car ease your foot off the accelerator and let the engine gear down your speed to a slow manageable and controlled stop.
- Once you have your car under control: In manual car ease of the accelerator and if circumstances allow, change down gears in a slow deliberate manner which will slow your car to manageable and controlled stop.
- When the car has come to a safe stop, apply the handbrake and switch on your hazard warning lights.
- Change your tyre.
For all your tyre needs including fitting, alignment and other services, get in touch with the experts at Tyreland today. Call now on 01 860 20 20 to find your nearest location.