Tires safety is important to all those who work on cars and drive them. Over inflating tires isn’t a common issue, but it seldomly does happen.
But can tires pop from over inflation? The answer is yes. Tires can easily pop if they are over inflated. It takes around 200psi to pop a tire. You have to use compressed air to get the job done, but it can happen. When driving, over inflated tires can pop as well, causing a catastrophic blowout.
But all tires aren’t created equally, and some pop easier than others. For example, spare tires have the maximum PSI stamped into the sidewall. Also, when a mechanic seats the bead on the tire, pressures can exceed 300psi instantaneously. Driving on over-inflated tires increases your chances of having a tire explosion occur after you hit a small bump. In this article, we’ll cover how tires hold air, which types of tires are commonly over inflated, and what to do when you experience a tire blowout at high speeds.
I’ve been trained in all areas of tire service and safety. I commit daily to providing the highest quality and safest service when doing tire work, and have never had any issues. Tires are simple to take care of, if you know what you’re doing. But they can become dangerous if you have adopted a care-free attitude when servicing them.
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The main mechanism containing pressure inside the tire, is the tire bead. The bead seats against the rim and a way that traps compressed air.
The bead is one of the strongest parts of the tire, because it’s job is so important. The bead is constructed out of steel cable, and is tested at very high pressures before added to the tire.
When the beads are “seated”, they are considered to be holding air inside the tire. The compressed air presses the beads against the flanges of the rim, which causes the tire to contain the air.
When tires are over inflated, the first place you will notice a leak is from the bead. The air is testing the tire bead the most, since the bead is what’s holding the air in.
And a small leak can instantaneously turn into a popped tire if the conditions are right. Tires are manufactured with precision sizing solely for the fact that they are meant to be seated on a suitable rim. If the tire size is off just a little bit, it will not hold air, or won’t go on the rim.
Spare tires are very easy to over inflate. Lots of spare tires you’d find in sedans are small in comparison to the manufacturer tires that come with the car.
For this reason, spares are recommended to be around 60 psi. The issue is inflating the tire with a tool that is difficult to read or isn’t calibrated correctly.
60 PSI can easily turn into 120 PSI if you aren’t using the correct equipment to inflate the tires. As well, some spare tires aren’t equipped with a TPMS system, so you will receive no indication that your spare is over inflated.
You’d need to manually check the spare with a working pressure gauge to get a correct reading. Over inflation of spare tires is common, and can cause a blowout if you aren’t careful.
Always check the spare pressure when servicing your tires.
Truck tires are prone to being over inflated because they call for different pressures between all four.
For example, Ford trucks sometimes call for 80psi in the rear, and 50psi in the front. They are prone to over inflation because during rotations, the 80 PSI tires will be rotated, and inflated again instead of being deflated.
It’s an honest mistake, but it can be deadly. Driving on a tire that’s 160 psi is begging for an accident. Especially because truck tires carry a heavier load than normal tires, causing more pressure at the tire’s bead.
I recommend checking the pressures yourself after rotations if your tires require staggered pressure.
Already Leaking Tires
Tires that are already leaking are prone to become over inflated in an attempt to mask the leak. Lots of customers will notice a small leak in their tire and think if they over inflate the tire, it will leak at a rate that evens out to the suggested operating PSI.
This can turn dangerous when the air that’s being added is more than air being leaked. If you lose 2 PSI per day, but add 50 psi to offset current and future leaks, you will still be driving around on a massively over inflated tire.
If your tire has a leak that is slow, you’ll want to fix it as soon as possible, without adding any air. Adding air to the tire isn’t recommended, because you can’t be sure if your overinflation will cause the tire to stay over inflated.
Tire blowouts can happen from over inflation. If a tire is over inflated and hits a small bump, there’s a chance air could start to quickly release from the tire.
This will cause you to lose control of steering and be a very unpleasant experience. The first thing you should do is remain calm. You want to keep the car operating as if nothing is going wrong.
This may even include speeding up to maintain any traction between your tires and the road. Don’t immediately jam on the brakes.
You want to decelerate as quickly as possible while maintaining traction, so slowly letting your foot off the gas pedal will make your chances of successfully dealing with a blowout increase.
When you start operating at a speed you feel safe, you can start to drift over to the right lane.
Apply your hazards to let other drivers on the road know that there is a major issue with your car.
Over inflated tires rarely do pop, but when they do, it can be a catastrophic event. The amount of pressure tires hold is enough to cause a small explosion.
When mechanics use a bead seater, it injects 150 psi into a tire instanously. This alone can cause an explosion if somehow spark and flammable liquid are introduced.
So a tire with that much pressure, while supporting a full vehicle load, is enough to cause quite a bit of damage. Check your tires and never try to over inflate them.
About The Author
Christopher Sparks has been servicing vehicles since 2012. After completing the automotive studies program at Camden County College, he was awarded an Associates's Degree in Applied Science. His first job was a lube-tech at Jiffy Lube, and is currently an independent B-Technician servicing vehicles for the United States Postal Service. Christopher is ASE certified and loves rebuilding engines.Read more about Christopher Sparks