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What Causes Truck Tire Blowouts?

Written by Tom Crosley
May 09, 2023 Trucking Accidents, Vehicle Wrecks
  1. 1. What Is a Tire Blowout?
  2. 2. What Causes a Tire Blowout?
  3. 3. Who Is Liable for Truck Tire-Related Crashes?
  4. 4. How an Experienced Attorney Can Help
  5. 5. Crosley Law: Experienced Truck Accident Attorneys

Imagine this scenario: You’re driving down the highway, about to pass a semi-truck. Suddenly and without warning, one of the truck’s tires explodes, causing the truck to suddenly veer into your lane.

It may sound like a freak occurrence. But in fact, the stats show that tire blowouts happen with alarming regularity—especially for large commercial trucks. An average of 8,000 truck crashes involve tire failures each year, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Large Truck Crash Causation Study. Furthermore, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that, in 2020 alone, 664 people died in tire-related vehicle crashes.

Unfortunately, it’s not always immediately clear what caused a blown tire. And if you don’t work quickly to secure the evidence before it disappears, it may become extremely difficult to identify the root cause. That’s a serious concern for car accident victims—if you can’t identify the person or party responsible, then you can’t get compensation.

If you’ve been injured in a tire-related truck wreck, we strongly urge you to speak with an experienced truck accident lawyer as soon as possible. Keep reading to learn more about the most common cause of tire blowouts.

What Is a Tire Blowout?

A tire blowout occurs when a vehicle tire suddenly and unexpectedly bursts, leading to a rapid loss of air pressure. Handling is immediately affected; the vehicle may suddenly slow down and begin pulling aggressively to the left or right.

Blowouts are sudden, startling, and devastatingly dangerous for all vehicles. But they are especially dangerous when they involve large trucks. The sudden loss of control often causes large trucks to swerve into other lanes or vehicles, causing catastrophic damage.

What Causes a Tire Blowout?

Most tire blowouts are the result of negligence. In other words, at some point leading up to the eventual failure of the tire, at least one person or party did not take the necessary, reasonable steps to ensure that the tire was safe to drive on.

But when did the failure occur, and who was responsible? Was it a manufacturing defect? Improper maintenance? Driver error? If you don’t know the root cause, you can’t prove who was responsible—and you may struggle to get compensation for your injuries.

Here are some of the most common factors that can contribute to a tire failure for a semi-truck or other heavy commercial vehicle:

Manufacturing Defects

A tire blowout may occur simply because the tire itself is faulty. A dangerous tire can leave the factory for several reasons, including:

  • Use of poor-quality materials in the manufacturing process, such as low-quality rubber that wears too quickly or results in weak points within the structure of the tire.
  • Improper curing and assembly of the tire. Curing is essential to shape the tire and bond tire components (rubber, steel, fabric, etc.) together. Poorly cured tires tend to have poor strength and durability.
  • Poor quality control. Tires are supposed to be thoroughly tested and inspected before reaching the market. However, if these steps aren’t taken, faulty tires may not be identified.

Tire Defects Cause Fatal Car Accidents Nationwide

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Overloaded Trucks

Each tire has a weight rating, specifying the maximum weight that a tire can support. If the truck routinely exceeds the weight limit, the tires must endure more heat, wear, and tear than they are designed to withstand. The result is a higher risk of tire blowout accidents.

Excessive Speed

Tires also have speed ratings, which indicate the maximum speed at which a properly inflated tire can safely operate. Go too fast, and the risk that the tire will blow out increases dramatically.

The stark reality is that most commercial truck tires can’t handle Texas highway speeds. Semi-trucks typically run on tires that are rated for only up to 75 miles per hour. Meanwhile, state Highway 130, which runs between San Antonio and Austin, has a posted speed limit of 85 mph along specific stretches—the highest speed in the United States, and one of the highest in the world.

Furthermore, while most states have slower speed limits for urban interstates and limited-access roads, Texas keeps traffic on many roads cruising along at 75 mph. And plenty of drivers (including truck drivers) are going even faster.

Incorrect Tire Pressure

In order to operate safely, truck tires should always be inflated to the air pressure recommended by the manufacturer.

  • Underinflated tires can’t support a heavily loaded truck as effectively, causing the tire to sag and tire sidewalls to flex more than they should. Added friction, stress, and heat weaken the tire and increase the risk of a rupture.
  • When tires are overinflated, it reduces the size of the contact patch between the tire and the road. This can put excessive stress on the center of the tread, and more stress on tire components. It also makes tires more susceptible to impact damage from potholes or road debris.

Most trucks should be equipped with a tire pressure monitoring system that alerts the driver about underinflated tires via a warning light on the dashboard. However, the sensor may be defective—or the warning may be ignored by the driver.

Poor Tire Maintenance

In addition to regularly checking air pressure, truck tires should be inspected routinely for alignment and signs of wear, damage, and other maintenance issues that can increase the risk of a blowout. It’s also important to have tires rotated and balanced regularly to ensure even wear.

Typical red flags include:

  • Excessive tread wear. Old, worn-down car tires are less durable and more prone to overheating, puncturing, and other related causes of tire blowouts.
  • Uneven tread wear. Due to alignment issues, air pressure imbalances, suspension issues, and other factors, some tires may be significantly more worn down than others.
  • Mismatched tires. Tires are considered “mismatched” if they are from different manufacturers, different sizes, or have significantly uneven tire wear. On an 18-wheeler, that’s a lot of tires to check—and issues aren’t always addressed promptly even when caught.

Weather Conditions

There is a reason why summer is sometimes called “tire blowout season,” particularly in a state like Texas. When the temperature of the air and road rises, the air inside the tire expands. If the pressure gets too high, it can cause the tire to fail and result in a blowout or flat tire.

Excessive heat isn’t the only risky weather as far as tires are concerned. Extreme cold temperatures can make tires hard, brittle, and more prone to cracking. Strong winds can cause a semi-truck to sway or lean, putting additional stress on tires. And wet or icy roads cause traction and handling problems that can lead to loss of traction and vehicle control.

Tire Blowout in the Summer? Here’s Why You Should Talk to an Attorney

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Road Hazards

Poorly maintained roads are also a common contributing factor to tire blowouts. Driving over potholes, road debris, sharp objects, or even hitting a curb can easily damage a tire, or cause an already weakened tire to fail.

Depending on the specific circumstances, a number of different parties may be found liable for the accident, potentially including:

  • The truck driver
  • The trucking company
  • Fleet mechanics
  • Tire manufacturers
  • The person or company that loaded the truck

Unfortunately, many truck drivers and trucking companies fail to take tire maintenance and repairs seriously despite regulations set in place by the Department of Transportation. They’re under a lot of pressure to make as many deliveries as possible as quickly as possible; servicing vehicles takes time and eats into profits. Corners frequently get cut—and far too often, people get hurt as a result.

How an Experienced Attorney Can Help

If you’ve been injured in an accident caused by a tire blowout, it’s essential to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible. They can help you navigate the complex legal process and work toward securing the compensation you deserve. The longer you wait, the more likely critical evidence will be lost forever.

Ideally, we want to get an investigator to the crash scene as soon as possible to examine the skid marks, debris, road conditions, and if possible to recover all or part of the destroyed tire. If the tire blowout was caused by a manufacturing defect, the best way to prove it is to ensure the tire itself can be examined before it is thrown away. You can help by taking as many pictures as possible of the tire, vehicle damage, and crash site.

Furthermore, when the Crosley Law team handles a truck tire blowout case, we always demand copies of the truck’s service logs to look for evidence of skipped inspections or shoddy repairs. We’ll also look for driver errors such as speeding or overloading a truck, often by analyzing the truck’s “black box,” as well as speaking with eyewitnesses or identifying camera footage.

To summarize, we can help you:

  • Fully investigate the root causes of the tire blowout, which may involve identifying and preserving physical evidence, demanding logs from the trucking company, working with experts (such as traffic reconstructionists and engineers), and other sophisticated tactics.
  • Accurately calculate the damages you are entitled to, including medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
  • Identify all the liable parties responsible for paying those damages, and all sources of insurance coverage that apply to your situation.
  • Negotiate a fair settlement with the applicable insurance companies.
  • File a lawsuit on your behalf and defend your best interests in court, if the insurance companies won’t agree to pay you what you deserve.

5 Reasons You Should Always Talk to a Commercial Vehicle Accident Lawyer After a Crash

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Crosley Law: Experienced Truck Accident Attorneys

If you’ve been the victim of a truck wreck, you need a knowledgeable truck accident attorney by your side to help you recover the compensation you deserve. At Crosley Law, our attorneys have experience determining the cause of commercial truck crashes, whether that’s driver negligence, tire issues, or other product defects.

Contact our attorneys today to learn more about your rights and options in a free consultation of your case. Call us at 210-LAW-3000 | 210-529-3000 or complete our online form to get started.


Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance. (29 August, 2019). CVSA releases results from 2019 international roadcheck [press release]. Retrieved from https://www.cvsa.org/news-entry/2019-roadcheck-results/

National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. Tire Safety Ratings and Awareness. United States Department of Transportation. Retrieved from https://www.nhtsa.gov/equipment/tires

IIHS. (2019). Maximum posted speed limits by state. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety – Highway Loss Data Institute. Retrieved from https://www.iihs.org/topics/speed/speed-limit-laws

The large truck crash causation study – Analysis brief. (2007, July). Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Retrieved from https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safety/research-and-analysis/large-truck-crash-causation-study-analysis-brief

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

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