Why do car tires explode? 7 common causes identified

Why do car tires explode

Cars normally don’t explode. They do generate explosive noise and tire is one of the causes. But why do car tires explode?

Tire explosion instances are quite common. Whether you are on the road, or parked aside tires don’t care. On the contrary, you have to take care of the tires to prevent an explosion.

So, what do you do? Find the causes and answers to those causes in this post which will help you remain alert and generous to your car as well as the wheels they run on.

Why do car tires explode?

Car tires explode due to the combination of several causes that pushes a tire (or tires) into a position to blow off.

The most common reason is the underinflation and overinflation of tires which tend to explode if forced to work in challenging temperatures or demanding road conditions.

Some of the other causes include the age and wearing of tires (non-maintenance), overloading of a vehicle, and manufacturing defects.

When tires are put to testing limits from these causes the only way to release the pressure is to throw the air out with a blast. This is where you see tires exploding making a large sound.

Let’s find out more about these causes and learn how to prevent and tackle the situation of tire explosions.

Under-inflated tires

Tire pressure plays an extremely important part in holding the tires together. Underinflation which means low tire pressure is the first symptom to worry about.

Now, why would you keep a tire lowly inflated and make it run excessively? That’s foolishness I would say. Because this act is a major concern for many tire burst incidents.

When the tire is running on low air, the turmoil within the tire’s structure and the outside contact with the road is too much to handle.

This means the tire is trying to run itself on its own without any immunity. This lack of immunity combined with intense running and internal hot temperatures leads to the building of too much heat inside of the tire.

Imagine what happens to your body when you have too much to do without any power. It will explode in the form of physical deficiencies. The same thing applies to tires.

Under-inflated tire

Lack of air disturbs the balance of the vehicle and when the heat keeps accumulating it can lead to wear on the edges of a tire causing it to blow out and damaging the whole structure. 

A tire bursting from underinflation and its consequences are much more intense and extreme compared to other causes.

A good way to avoid underinflation is to glance through all the tires before starting your journey.

If you find any abnormalities and you are planning to drive for a long time the best thing to do is properly inflate them.

This is what I normally do and believe me I have never faced tire problems due to underinflation.

Overinflated tires

Tires exploding due to overinflation is a rare scenario but still possible. An over-inflated tire is like an overblown balloon that explodes immediately after poking a needle.

One of the reasons to witness a tire bursting due to overinflation is running at high speed on roads filled with debris or sharp obstacles.

Though the main culprit that makes a tire burst here is the condition of the road the air in the tire does make it vulnerable to blasts.

Related: Do cars on fire explode?

Secondly, many incidents of tire bursting while filling the air have been reported and confirmed around the world. The main reasons are the condition of the rims and any existing damage on the tires.

Filling the air with caution is advisable if the rims are too rusty or if the tire is too worn out. A good practice is to always adhere to the pressure limits mentioned by the manufacturer while filling the air.

Gas station pumps are more powerful and quick to inflate tires so special attention is necessary. If you are using your own gauge, make sure to fill the air in small sections while measuring the pressure subsequently to have more control.

Worn out tires

Worn-out tires or wheels that are running continuously for a long time without any attention are more prone to damage.

Proper wheel alignment is necessary to keep the balance intact. Secondly, suspensions are at risk of wearing out early if not taken care of periodically.

Both the parts are covered under regular maintenance so you must never neglect or avoid the process for too long.

Doing so would cause uneven wear and make the tires weak putting them under serious pressure which could lead to bursts and explosions.

On road damages

The most critical part for any vehicle owner is the condition of the roads they drive on. Section of the roads with curbs, driveway lips, debris, etc., and weather-affected strips with potholes, bumps, or any other obstacles affect the tires badly.

On road damage to tire

The condition of the roads has a direct impact on the surface of tires as it causes a slit/slash through the rubbers inviting trouble. The open portion is enough for air to escape and create a bursting scenario.

To keep your tires safe, better avoid driving on such roads. Take the alternative routes if you know one. In case there is no other option then drive at a slow speed especially, on sharp turns.

Avoid the bad parts as much as you can and keep optimal pressure in the tires to pass through the grudges smoothly. Once you reach your destination, make sure to check the tires and service/replace the impacted parts immediately.

Overloading

Overloading is very common among families to stuff their vehicles with too much weight. Another instance of overloading occurs frequently on pickup trucks.

The flexibility of tires is badly affected in case of overloading. The sidewalls of tires are excessively flexed because of aggressive weight and it creates a situation similar to underinflation.

Rest is evident. Generation of heat, and explosion. To avoid this, always load your vehicle with recommended and appropriate weight. Use your own instincts while packing and loading a vehicle.

Next, check the pressure on the tires. Any signs of tires getting flatter means you have to adjust or reduce the weight. Simultaneously, inflate the tires according to the tire pressure guidelines provided by the car manufacturer.

Overheating (weather temperature and speed)

High speeds and extremely hot conditions are two major enemies of the tire. Tires function properly if they are used according to the given speed ratings. Almost all the tires have specific metrics (alphanumeric) stamped on them that carry a speed limit identification.

For example, a tire with a value 235/55R17 99H. Here ‘H’ stands for a maximum speed limit of 210 Km/h (130 mph). Anything above this speed limit could be hazardous for the tires.

Here is the speed limit chart to be followed.

Higher speeds lead to higher friction levels delimiting the capacity of the tires to withstand the speed pressure.

These friction atrocities generate excessive heat causing damage to the structure and flexibility of a tire. When the tire loses the capacity of bearing the heat it results in an explosion.

Similarly, overheating conditions such as extremely hot weather are another reason why a tire can become weak from a tolerance perspective.

Running tires constantly accumulates heat which combined with external heating conditions makes the rubber more pressurized and fragile leading to wear and tear.

While you cannot control the temperature, you must resist overspeeding and take timely brakes while traveling in hot weather to keep your vehicle and tires cool.

Manufacturing defects

Faulty design elements, weak materials, and insufficient tread separation are some of the manufacturing defects that can lead to tire-bursting situations.

The thickness of the tread material and underlying plies should be properly and correctly installed by the manufacturer.

Manufacturing defects are more technical faults that cannot be detected with one look. But if you face a tire burst scenario and cannot find any of the above-mentioned reasons then a manufacturing fault could be the last cause to blame.

While buying a new car or replacing old tires always check or go for reputed brands. Such brands have dedicated units that research and design tires according to the vehicle models, condition of the roads, speed limits, etc.

The tires are extensively tested before being released in the market. In case of any faults or defects, these reputed manufacturing companies are more than happy to repair or replace the tires under warranty.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can tires explode randomly?

Yes, tires explode randomly due to non-maintenance and unbalanced pressure. The other common causes are related to improper usage, high speeds, bad roads, and hot temperatures.

Can a tire explosion kill you?

The intensity of a tire burst can damage the structure of a vehicle badly. In a worst-case scenario, tire explosions can cause a car to catch fire but never to the extent of killing someone.

However, the after-effects of tire explosion can hurt the people on the road and may even cause accidents if the vehicle goes off the road which could turn fatal.

Can tires explode while the car is parked?

Tires exploding in a parked car is a rare scenario. Occasionally, this can happen if the vehicle is parked under extremely hot weather or if it ran through sharp objects that caused the rubber to slash and release the pressure through an explosion after parking.

Final thoughts

There is no denying the fact that tires are one of the most-used and important parts of any vehicle.

If not taken care of on a timely basis, these rubber units are bound to deteriorate and fall apart.

We have seen the causes that result in tire explosions. The most common is under/overinflation which can be controlled with proper monitoring.

Some of the other precautions you can take are pre-planning a trip according to the weather and road conditions and driving within speed limits.

It is also a good practice to learn the process of replacing the tires with a spare one to avoid delays and inconvenience. I am sure the information in this post helped you understand why car tires explode.

In case you faced any other situation that caused tire explosions do share the same with your valuable comments.

Arif

A driving enthusiast since 2006! I am also the author and owner of THECARPLUS.

I spend time behind the steering when I am not in front of a computer.

In my spare time, I get involved with the technicians who work on my car as and when needed.
The information you get on this website is part of the knowledge I gain through these professionals as well as further research done by me personally.

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