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Having a tire blowout isn't just frightening, it's one of the most dangerous things that can happen to you while driving. Luckily, there are things you can do to prevent tire blowouts from occurring.

Visual Inspection

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When it comes to tires and many other components on your car or truck, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The best way to avoid problems on the road is to take a minute and look your car or truck over every few weeks.

Aside from just knowing how to check underneath your ride's chassis for oil leaks or how to check your oil in general, you should also learn what to look for on your tires so you can spot trouble before it stops you in your tracks.

When inspecting your tires, keep a look out for blowout warning signs, including:
  • Wearing
  • Aging and dry rot
  • Damage from improper use
It's important to know how to spot these signs and the impacts they could have if left untreated.

The Penny Test

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Tires that are worn out are easy to spot. Many states have laws that dictate the minimum tread depth for legal operation on roads and highways. The minimum tread depth is usually around 2/32' (1/16'). To gauge this, you can simply use the change in your pocket to check tread depth.

Take a penny out of your pocket and find the most worn out looking spot you can on your tire. Push the penny in between the tread with Lincoln's head pointing straight down at the ground.
  • If the tread goes up to his forehead, it's time to start thinking about new tires.
  • If the tread barely touches his hair, you need new tires immediately.
  • If you can't see much of Lincoln's head, your tires are in good shape.

The more you drive on worn out tires, the more likely you'll expose the steel belts that provide your tires with structure and strength. If you can see steel belts, or what looks like a frayed wire brush poking out of your tire, you should replace them immediately. Driving with worn out tires will put you at risk for a blowout and potential accident.

Age & Dry Rotted Tires

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Wear isn't the only problem that could lead to a tire blowout. When a car sits for a long time, the tires may have plenty of tread on them but still contain damage that could lead to a blowout.

The damage you're looking for is called dry rot, and it shows up as small, sometimes barely visible cracks between the tire's tread or on its sidewall. Dry rotted tires may even fail to hold air in some cases. But even if they do hold air, they're still not safe to drive on. Dry rot is a sign that the outside rubber is compromised and it's only a matter of time before the structural components underneath the rubber become compromised as well.

A simple visual inspection is all that's needed to check for dry rot. Look closely as the cracks are often small and barely visible. If you notice dry rot on your tires, it's time to replace the tires on your vehicle with a fresh set.

Damaged Tires

Tires become damaged when drivers run over things that they're not supposed to, such as a curb or large piece of road debris. When this happens, your tire may develop a dent or even an obscure looking bubble on the sidewall.

If you suspect or know for a fact that one of your wheels took a hard impact recently, take your car down to your local Pep Boys and have a tire expert perform an inspection for you.

Your wheels should be perfectly round, and your tires should be free of all signs of damage. A small dent could cause big problems, so you may need a new tire along with replacement suspension components and an alignment.

Buying New Tires

The best way to prevent blowouts is to ensure your tires are in good, undamaged condition. Your neighborhood Pep Boys has technicians on staff to help you decide on a new set of tires if you need them. If you're not sure what you need, we can give your car or truck a once over and inform you of the condition of your tires and other major components.

Your tires are the last link between you and the road. It pays to keep an eye on them and have them replaced as soon as you notice they've become damaged, dry rotted, or simply worn out from regular use.