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In summary, the tire gets pinched between the pothole edge and the rim. To understand the anatomy of a tire blowout. We first have to define a couple of Tire Terms (yes we are tire geeks). The first is the tread surface, which is the patch of the tire that is normally in contact with the road surface. Another important term is Tire sidewall, which is the side of the tire (the area that can be seen when looking at a car from the side, in other terms, it’s the distance between the tire tread surface the the edge of the rim where the tire mounts)

Think of the tire as working double duty in any vehicle.The first job is to keep traction with road surface (with the help of a good suspension), that is done by the tire tread area pressing against the road. the other job of the tire is working as a shock absorber (the thicker the sidewall, the more the tire helps absorbing shocks).

Many aspects effect the outcome if a tire blows out or not, which include:

  • The Tire inflation pressure: if the tire is inflated correctly, not only will it ride evenly across the road surface, but in the case of hitting bumps and potholes, the impact of the pothole on the tire tread area does not cause the side wall to flex enough for it to be pinched against the rim in most conditions.
  • The Vehicle’s suspension condition: if the suspension is bouncy (which is generally indicative of a shock absorbers wear) it can cause the tire to hit the pothole or bump more times than it should. In other words, imagine that the tire hits a pothole, as it reaches the edge/end of the pothole, the tire would travel back up with the help of the suspension, if the shock absorber was worn out, the tire would bounce back hitting the edge of the pothole again making it more likely to damage the tire in the process.
  • The Suspension is too stiff: if the suspension is too stiff (modified vehicles, with stiffer coilovers, springs and shock struts) then the force on the tire sidewall is enlarged significantly.
  • the rotational acceleration of the tire (while accelerating or decelerating aggressively) can impact how the tire reacts to hitting the bump or pothole.

The best way to prevent this from happening is to avoid the potholes all together, or if you happen to be in Montreal at the beginning of spring, then we recommend relying on public transport for a couple of months.