The power of a tire explosion

Photo credit: John Vachon, USA, 1943, Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division Washington, DC

Photo: John Vachon, USA, 1943, Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division Washington, DC

Tires can explode with deadly force – for a few different reasons.

Recently I met a former mechanic named Petr at my favourite local coffee shop. He told me about a tire explosion he experienced a few years ago when he was working as a mobile mechanic for his dad’s company, rescuing broken-down trucks from the highways of Ontario and Quebec.

One night he was dispatched to fix a flat on a big truck, when the driver reported that his air brakes had failed earlier. Petr wasn’t sure what the driver was talking about, since it was fairly difficult to re-attach air brakes. He removed the wheel to fix the flat and noticed the brake line was “just hanging back there.”

The driver had gone all the way from Mississauga to Montreal – 538 kilometres – with a locked brake. Not good. Petr told me what happened next.

“I had the flat tire on the tailgate of my truck, inflating, and covered in soap to see where the flat is,” Petr wrote, via email. “I was in the driver’s seat, filling out a work order when my world jumped and I had a face-full of steering wheel. The tire had exploded and somehow threw itself a good six feet next to where the driver had been.”

It turns out the tire had been held in place by the locked brake. The rim of the wheel spun inside it all that time, creating so much heat from friction that it “completely annihilated the metal cords that held the tire together,” Petr explained.

Thankfully no one was hurt – even though the driver was, as Petr put it: “pale as a ghost with a completely empty colon.”

Tire explosions can be deadly

Tires can exploded for a number of reasons. Over-inflating causes explosions, as can under-inflating tires – which leads to damage and irregular wear. Improper fitting onto rims is also dangerous.

These videos show how dangerous tires can be – so please be careful at work and on the road. Thanks again to Petr for telling me about his experience, and if you have a story to share, email


3 thoughts on “The power of a tire explosion

  1. HealthSafetyNews

    Excellent videos! They both show the amazing forces that could (and do) cause terrible injuries and fatalities. The advice in the first video is simple but could save lives.


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