Survive Tyre Blow-outs

This article is taken from Bear's book How To Stay Alive.

Have you ever experienced a tyre blow-out or a brake failure when driving? It can be terrifying. But there are ways of handling them that will keep you alive.


TOP TIP - you will massively reduce the likelihood of getting one if you keep your tyres properly inflated, and avoid any kerb-mounting when driving.

Here are some clear indicators that will mean you have a blow-out:

  • Your steering wheel suddenly starts to shudder
  • The steering becomes heavy
  • The vehicle feels like it’s being pulled to the left or right
  • The vehicle swerves violently

If this happens, your instinct will be to slam on the brakes. Don’t do this. If you have a front puncture, it moves the weight of the car to the damaged wheel. This will make you swerve badly, or it will dig the rim into the tarmac and flip you over. If you have a rear puncture it will increase the drag and cause the vehicle to fishtail, possibly sending you into a 360° spin.

So, what should you do? Keep a cool head, your foot away from the brake, and:

  • Grip the steering wheel firmly with both hands and focus on keeping the vehicle straight. Do not yank it hard in either direction as this can cause a flip.
  • Keep your foot on the accelerator. If you feel yourself losing control of the vehicle, accelerating slightly can help you regain control.
  • Put your hazard warning lights on and ease off the accelerator to bring the speed down.
  • Only change down a gear (in a manual transmission) if you can do so in a controlled manner.
  • If the steering wheel is very difficult to control, don’t worry about changing gear. Keep a firm grip on the wheel until you come to a natural stop.
  • Indicate towards the hard shoulder or side of the road and come to a halt.

Sudden brake failure is rare, but potentially catastrophic. You’ll need to use a mixture of engine braking and handbraking to bring your vehicle to a complete stop.

First, take your foot off the accelerator to lose as much speed as you safely can. Don’t use your handbrake at high speeds as this can cause you to lose control of the vehicle.

To force the vehicle to slow down with a manual transmission, press the clutch, change down into second gear, and bring the clutch up gently so that it acts like a brake. In an automatic, shift to Low, or change down one gear at a time if there’s a manual option.

While you’re doing this, VERY gently engage the handbrake – make sure not to tug it violently or you’ll lock the wheels and cause a skid.

Constantly be on the alert for safe escape lanes where you can leave the road.

TOP TIP - try to aim for uphill slopes to slow you down naturally.

Disclaimer: The information in this article is presented as general guidance in relation to the subject addressed. It is not a substitute and not to be relied on for medical or other professional advice on specific circumstances and in specific locations. So far as the author is aware the information given is correct and up to date at the time of publication. The author disclaim, as far as the law allows, any liability arising directly or indirectly from the use, or misuse, of the information contained in this article.