At the peak of summer time, many people are gearing up for car travel to join family and friends for vacation. Your chance of having a tire blowout is heightened during summer time because of high heat. While a tire blowout, breakdowns, and accidents do happen to even the most careful of drivers, here are a few things to keep you safe while on the road this summer.
Pack a Kit for a Tire Blowout and Other Emergencies
Before you leave home, make sure you are carrying emergency essentials and everything you need to change flat tires. DMV.gov suggests preparing an emergency kit that is tailored to your environment and the time of year. The link provides a complete list, but here are the must-have basics:
- Flashlight with extra batteries
- First aid kit
- Bottled water and non-perishable snacks
- Reflective signs or flares
- Multipurpose tool
- Cell phone charger pack
- Jumper cables
Check the Spare Tire and Tire Changing Equipment
Very often we neglect to think about the spare tire until we are stuck on the side of the road with a tire blowout. All late model vehicles have tire pressure monitoring systems which will detect low air pressure, but very few vehicles come standard on zero pressure tires, or run-flat tires. If your vehicle is not equipped with run-flat tire models you will have a spare tire somewhere in the trunk, or suspended under the rear of the vehicle. Before you leave home, check the tire to ensure it is properly inflated. In the event of a tire blowout deflated spare tires do not do any good. The spare tire will also be of little use if you don’t have the equipment to get the flat tire off the vehicle. Make sure you have a working jack and the correct size of lug wrench. Don’t forget to locate any wheel lock or special security adaptor for loosening the wheels off the vehicle.
Stay Alert While Driving
Apart from respecting the speed limits and keeping a safe distance from other vehicles, the most important thing we can do is to be attentive while driving. Keeping two hands on the wheel and your full attention to driving is super important in the event of a tire blowout. A tire blowout will cause the car to pull sharply to one side. If the blowout is on the front left, the vehicle will pull towards oncoming traffic. An attentive driver, with two hands on the wheel will gently correct against the pulling motion caused by the flat tire. A distracted driver would be more prone to react by jerking the steering wheel and stomping on the brakes. This reaction could be disastrous.
When you hear the loud noise, and feel the steering wheel lunge to the side during a tire blowout, don’t panic and hit the brakes. It is important to keep your forward motion and the weight of the vehicle evenly distributed on the four tires. This will help you to stay in your lane and maintain control of the vehicle. Once you have re-established control, you can turn on your emergency flashers, or turn indicators, and start to edge toward the side of the road.
Correct air pressure
During the heat of summer, tires are already susceptible to overheating. Low air pressure compounds this problem because the tire sidewalls are flexing more than necessary and causing the tires to heat up. Before every long trip you must check the air pressure in your tires against the air pressure recommendation. This data can usually be found on a placard placed on the inside of the drivers side door post. Check your tire pressure, and make any adjustments by adding air while the tires are cool (before use).
If you do end up stranded with a flat tire on the side of a road, you have the option of calling for help or changing the tire yourself. In either case, pull the vehicle as far over on to the shoulder of the road as possible. Avoid stopping the vehicle on a corner or bend in the road where you are not easily seen by drivers coming from either direction. Place reflective signals or flares up to 100 yards behind the vehicle to ensure you are seen by other drivers in the lane closest to you. If there is space, and traffic permits, proceed with changing the tire as quickly as possible. In the event you are stuck on the side of a busy, high speed highway, consider waiting for the wrecker to arrive. In most cases, it is safer to have the vehicle moved to the nearest garage, where a professional can install the spare. Many new vehicles come with emergency road service for a period of time and even the basic AAA memberships include free towing. If you have these programs, consider the option of calling for service, before attempting to change the tire yourself.
Tires-easy.com Ready to Assist
Heading out for the holidays can be stressful, but being prepared on as many fronts as possible can help ease the ride. If you have any concerns about the condition of your tires, or need new tires, check out tires-easy.com. We have the best prices on tires and a lot of other helpful information about tires and tire safety.