Even safe, highly prepared drivers experience tire malfunctions. Harsh winter conditions also put extra strain on tires as roads become more slick with ice and snow. Concerns such as repairs and auto insurance rates are secondary to the safety of drivers and their passengers, so drivers should review some common tire emergencies and know the best way to handle them before they embark on their next journey.
Tired tires can burst without warning
Even if their tires are fresh and well-maintained, drivers should not discount the worst from happening.
The strongest tires are not immune to blow-outs or punctures by objects in the road. Pieces of scrap metal or sharp rocks can easily burst a tire, even if it is brand new, and well-worn tires can tear apart on their own after enough use. The winter months also increase the likelihood that shards of ice could cause serious damage to treads.
Popping a tire can be a frightening experience, especially if it comes with a loud burst and jolt to the passengers. According to Edmunds, the best way to handle a blown tire is more simple than drivers might think.
Instead of immediately turning off the road like many motorists feel the urge to do, drivers should stay in their lane and let the vehicle coast until it naturally slows down to around 30 miles per hour. Because burst tires are weaker, they cannot handle the pressure of a high-speed turn. Once the vehicle is moving at a reasonably slow speed, the driver will be able to ease into a turn and gently shift into the emergency lane to come to a complete stop.
A recent WPXI article examined the effects of winter conditions on tire safety, revealing that treads can wear down more quickly and tire pressure can suffer.
"When it gets cold like this, your tire pressure gets out of whack," John Lentz, owner of ATC Sales and Service in Pittsburgh, told the news source. It is important to keep an eye on that stuff. Make sure your battery is charged up. Check all your fluids under the hood."
Tread separation has lethal potential
A less common, but highly dangerous, tire hazard is the disintegration of the entire tread. Edmunds explained that this is even more treacherous than a blowout because metal wheels are fully exposed to the road and remaining shreds of rubber can create a scythe-like effect with the potential to cause serious damage. This also presents hazards for the undercarriage of a vehicle, which leaves brake lines and fuel tanks open to the destructive effects of the torn tread spinning at 1,000 rpm. Drivers need to be diligent in examining their treads to avoid this problem.
Although harsh winter conditions can present serious hazards for tires, Edmunds reminded drivers that most tread separation incidents occur on hot days and to tires with low pressure and lots of wear. A regular tire pressure check-up is easy to arrange and can keep drivers from worrying about a dangerous situation on the highway. Investing in reliable tires will provide peace of mind when taking to the road. This will also reduce the chances of getting into an accident that could endanger passengers or send auto insurance rates skyrocketing.