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Car Care 101 Rules of the Road by Sears Auto

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Emergency Scenarios: Tire Blowout

Emergency Scenarios: Tire Blowout

We’ve all woken up to find a nail stuck in our tire tread. But when your tire blows out while you’re driving, a minor inconvenience quickly becomes a dangerous, potentially life-threatening situation. Below, we’ve outlined some key tips to help you keep calm and safely navigate your car to the side of the road.

Tire Blowouts

Do Not:

  • Panic. Although it’s natural instinct, keeping your calm in this situation can potentially save your life, as well as the lives of other motorists on the road.
  • Step on the brakes. Without the fourth tire, stepping on the brakes can add to the instability of the car rather than help and can cause your car to veer off even more.
  • Abruptly release your foot from the accelerator. Although it may seem counterintuitive, rapidly releasing the accelerator causes the vehicle to transfer more of its weight from the rear to the front tires, leading to loss of control[1]. In some cases, it might even be necessary to apply slightly more pressure to the accelerator to help overcome the initial drag[2].


  • Gradually release the accelerator. Allow the car to slow down on its own.
  • Concentrate on steering. Look where you want the vehicle to go and steer in that direction. Fight the urge to over-steer, and instead focus on small, smooth adjustments to keep the car moving straight ahead in your lane as it slows. Don’t worry about reaching for your hazard lights until you feel you have control of the car OR are safely on the side of the road.
  • Softly apply the brakes by tapping the brakes or slowly pressing all the way down on the brake pedal once you have sufficient control of your vehicle and are moving at a speed slow enough to stay in control.
  • Steer your car gradually, smoothly to the side of the road. Turn on your hazards once you feel it is safe to do so. Pull as far off the road as possible.  
  • Before getting out of your vehicle assess the traffic situation, your surroundings, and your options. The safest place to be is in your vehicle, equipped with safety features and impact protection.  If you must change the tire yourself, exit the vehicle from the side opposite traffic. Never exit or stand in or near passing traffic.
  • If you cannot safely change the tire yourself, call roadside assistance and/or a tow truck and remain in your vehicle.  If you feel a safer location is within a short distance, consider driving the vehicle at a walking pace as far right as is safely possible, with your hazard lights on, to that location and reassess your options.

Both front and rear tire blowouts can occur. You’ll feel the force of a front blowout in your steering, while you’ll feel a rear blowout in the seat or body of the vehicle[3]. But no matter which tire blows out, the protocol for making it safely to the side of the road remains the same. Before you head out on your next trip, bring your vehicle into Sears Auto Center to have your tires inspected.

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