What Causes a Truck Tire Blowout?

Published on Apr 19, 2022 at 5:59 pm in Truck Accidents.

Tire on road

A truck tire blowout is a dangerous event with the possibility for severe injuries or even loss of life. Any sudden loss of pressure combined with an outward rupture or explosion of a tractor-trailer’s tire is likely to cause an accident when other vehicles are around.

Understanding the causes of a truck tire blowout is key to preventing related truck accidents. Both trucking company employers and truck drivers themselves should be familiar with the risk factors for truck tire blowouts, as well as what actions to take to correct any dangers and protect others from harm. Unfortunately, at Prince Law Firm we have dealt with far too many truck accidents caused by tire blowouts. Here are some of the most common causes of truck tire blowout our Marion truck accident attorneys see.

Common Causes of Truck Tire Blowouts

Truck tire blowouts can happen anywhere, but occur most frequently when traveling at high speeds. This means that you are at a higher risk for being involved in a truck tire blowout accident when traveling on interstates and highways than when in urban settings or areas with lower speed limits. Here are some of the major contributing factors to truck tire blowouts.

Overinflation or Underinflation

Improperly inflated tires are much more likely to blow out than tires that are properly inflated to the correct psi, or pounds per square inch. Although the exact psi will vary based on a number of factors, including the manufacturer and style of tire, most tractor-trailer tires should be inflated to anywhere between 120 and 140 psi. The typical truck rim is rated for 120 psi cold inflation. Cold inflation refers to the pressure before driving when the tires are still cool, as the heat from driving will cause the air molecules to expand and the pressure to subsequently increase.

Overinflation becomes a problem when, during driving, tires heat up and expand. The increase in pressure in an overinflated tire can quickly become too much and can cause a blowout.

Overheating is also a problem for underinflated tires. Truck tires that are uninflated are prone to overheating more easily. The sidewalls of a tire have to engage in more flexing when there is not enough pressure, which creates a significant amount of heat in addition to the heat caused by friction between the tire and the road. Eventually, the bonds holding together an underinflated tire will no longer be able to stand the heat and will break down, causing a blowout.

Both over and underinflation are some of the most common causes of tire blowouts. Federal regulations require all truck drivers to conduct a pre-trip inspection prior to hitting the road. Part of that pre-trip inspection involves checking a tire’s air pressure to ensure it does not have too much or too little air pressure. Any failure to complete this step could leave a truck driver liable for any damages that may result in a subsequent truck tire blowout accident.

Wear and Tear

The average trucker will drive anywhere from 605 to 650 miles over a single 11-hour shift. While driving distance might vary based on things like traffic, weather, and driving conditions, most truckers travel significantly longer distances than the average motor vehicle driver.

All that time and distance on the road puts a significant amount of wear and tear on the tires. In addition to checking psi on all tires during a pre-trip inspection, truck drivers should also carefully inspect for any signs of wear and tear that may point to a looming blowout. Here are a few indications that a truck tire is past its prime and should no longer be used:

  • An overall rough appearance, including the presence of many small cuts on the tread surface
  • Spin damage in the form of lines or cuts 360° around a portion or all of the tire’s surface
  • Localized areas of excessive wear and tear, including abrasion marks
  • The presence of gravel or stone imbedded in tread blocks
  • Cupping or scalloping as tread height varies from low to high in seemingly random spots
  • Uneven tread wear between the interior and adjacent ribs
  • Highly localized flat spots that appear in a diagonal pattern across the tire’s tread
  • Brake skid damage appears as significant abrasion in localized spots
  • Tire tread wear on only one side of a tire

The above are all indications that a tire is not in its best state and may be vulnerable to hazards, such as blowouts. Truck drivers should replace tires when they show regular signs of wear and tear or are obviously damaged.

Driver Behavior and Foreign Objects

Even an otherwise healthy tire can blow out given the right conditions. For example, a negligent, drowsy, or distracted truck driver might suffer a blowout if they strike a:

  • Curb
  • Pothole
  • Sharp object

If a driver’s pre-trip inspection checklist shows that they properly evaluated all tires, found no signs of damage, and inflated them properly, it may be necessary to explore whether the driver themself was at fault for a truck tire blowout. Your Marion truck accident lawyer should know where to find this type of information, such as in a truck’s black box.

How Often Do Tire Blowouts Cause Truck Accidents?

According to an analysis from the National Automotive Sampling System-Crashworthiness Data System, tire failures directly contribute to 11,000 accidents every year, or one in every 270 crashes. In 2017 alone, tire blowouts caused 738 traffic fatalities.

Truck tires are both thicker, wider, and overall much larger than the average passenger vehicle tire. During a blowout, parts of a truck tire can be violently flung away from the truck, striking other vehicles or creating dangerous road hazards. Blown tires that hit passenger vehicle windshields are often deadly. Passenger vehicle drivers may also be involved in an accident when they cannot take evasive maneuvers or stop in time to avoid colliding with a piece of tire that erupted during a blowout.

Any number of collisions—including between multiple passenger vehicles and between large trucks and smaller cars—are possible when a truck’s tire blows out.

Your Injuries Matter

At Prince Law Firm, we know what the aftermath of a truck accident can look like. The road to recovery is often filled with unforeseen obstacles, including unexpected medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment in life, permanent or temporary disability, and more. Unfortunately, we are also familiar with the insurance company’s tactics to avoid taking responsibility for your injuries.

Our Marion truck accident lawyers know what it takes to prove fault and liability in serious truck accidents, including those caused by truck tire blowouts. We refuse to let the insurance company bully our clients into accepting anything less than what they need to make the fullest possible recovery.

To learn more about your options for securing compensation after a truck accident, contact us to schedule your no-obligation, confidential case evaluation. Your first meeting with one of our Marion truck accident attorneys is always free.



Want to speak to an attorney? Unsure if you have a case? Fill out the form below and we’ll reach out to you as quickly as possible.