Top 7 Causes of Truck Tire Blowouts and How to Avoid Them

Dangerous or even deadly, truck tire blowouts are a major concern for anyone in the trucking industry. According to a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) study, tire problems lead to as many as 8,000 truck accidents a year. That’s a huge number, so don’t think it can’t happen to you.

To protect yourself and other road users from potentially fatal and costly tire blowouts, you need to understand their causes and how to prevent them. By the time you finish reading this, you’ll know exactly how to do that, and how to keep everyone safer on the road.

Incorrect Tire Pressure

Whether tires are over- or under-inflated, the subsequent stressors can lead to disaster.  An overinflated tire has less traction on the road and is more prone to damage. When subjected to heat and friction, the hot air expands, and the rubber stretches beyond its limit. 

Underinflation is one of the primary reasons for tire blowouts. Underinflated tires must bear more of the weight of the load in their internal components, and the additional friction and heat generated cause cracking and unnecessary flexing in the sidewalls. 

It’s important to check all tire pressure at least once a week in conjunction with the manufacturer’s load and inflation tables. Instead of relying on a visual examination or’ thumping, ‘ use a calibrated tire gauge to get an accurate reading.

Truck Tire Blowouts


Time and space are money, and the temptation to overload a rig is real.  However, exceeding the recommended load capacity puts additional stress on the engine, axles and tires, and accelerates degradation.

Regular reference to the axle load limits and public safety regulations assist in planning the routes and loads.  State legislation often allows for a higher load on non-interstate highways than that permitted on the Interstate system.  However, it’s best to consider the vehicle as a whole and not to haul more than it can manage per the vehicle and tire specifications.

Maintenance Practices

Trucks spend long hours on the road, and this makes tires susceptible to wear and tear and other damage.  Tire life is also limited, and they will wear out, leading to the structural integrity being compromised. 

Cost-saving is not an option here, as the risks outweigh any potential savings.  The law also requires that companies perform regular maintenance on their vehicles and keep records of it.

A visual tire inspection before and after loading will identify damage, such as bulges, cuts, and cracks in the sidewalls. Maintenance schedules depend on the vehicle’s age and usage. However, tires should be checked more regularly for pressure and tread depth. Tires need to be rotated and wheel alignment checked to ensure that the load is distributed uniformly so that wear is even and not localized.

Incorrect and Mismatched Tires

Fitting the incorrect tires to a rig or trailer will result in uneven and early wear and tear. Where one tire is a different make, size, or pressure, this causes the ‘smaller’ tire to be dragged or scrubbed, creating flat spots and damaging the tread and structure.

For this reason,  it’s crucial that you understand your tire specifications, roads and conditions.   Remember to take into account the vehicle load capacity, whether your routes are predominantly tarred, gravel or offroad and the prevailing weather conditions when selecting tires.  Where possible, match tire replacements on the same axle or schedule full tire replacements, ensuring identical spares are available.

Road Conditions

High-traffic roads will have different hazards from quieter routes, so you need to know the possible pitfalls (potholes!). Interstates should be better maintained; however, debris on these roads from previous accidents and incidents, including dumping, can lead to punctures and cuts on tires. Although a major tire failure may not happen instantly, slow leaks can lead to an eventual burst. 

Where road maintenance is not performed regularly or where high volumes of trucks use a road, surfaces can be degraded, and potholes can appear. Trucks driving on more rural roads can expect to encounter rubble, such as large, sharp stones that lodge in the tread of the tires and, over time, cause punctures or uneven wear.

Debris and potholes should be avoided wherever possible. Maintaining a speed suitable for the road surface and conditions and remaining alert to upcoming and potential hazards can avoid tire damage.

High Speeds

As vehicle speed increases, the tires in contact with the road surface heat up due to the higher friction. The air in the tires then expands. The higher heat and air pressure put strain on the structure and components of the tires. Although tires are designed to handle heat and pressure, where speed is excessive or a tire is weakened by a cut or scrubbing, the chances of a blowout increase exponentially.

It may seem obvious but as at least one fatality or injury is caused by a truck accident approximately every 16 seconds, we need to say it again. Speed limits are set to protect all road users and should be adhered to. Trucks have the capacity to cause disastrous damage due to their size and weight .


Truck tires are in contact with the road, and the road is exposed to the elements. Therefore, current weather conditions play a large role in tire’s performance. 

On hot days, the tarmac reaches boiling temperatures, which means that the heat and pressure in the tires will be similar.  In cold environments, the components in the tires contract, becoming more rigid and more liable to cracking. Other weather-related situations, such as flooding or high winds, can result in additional debris on the roads, which can damage tires.

Before getting behind the wheel, always check the weather forecast and plan accordingly. This is especially important on a long-haul job where the weather at the starting point may be vastly different from the destination. 

In a nutshell, blowouts are caused by a lack of maintenance, weather or road conditions, or bad driving practices.

By understanding this and knowing how to take evasive action, you can keep on trucking safely.


Why does incorrect tire pressure lead to blowouts?
Over- or underinflated tires have less traction and additional friction, so they are not stable. This leads to unnecessary damage, which can lead to a blowout.

Why should all tires match?

If tires of different sizes or thicknesses are used, weight is distributed unevenly. This causes wear and tear in specific spots, which can lead to a bald spot and subsequent blowout.

Does the weather affect tires?

Yes. Hot and cold weather can cause damage to tires and make them more prone to cracks and tears.