By Eric Johnson of TechnoRV.com
I had a blowout on my passenger steer tire doing 65 mph in my 2016 Tiffin Phaeton. In this article, I am going to share exactly what happened and how I was able to control the RV and safely get it off the road. You can watch a video of me explaining what happened below.
The morning of the blowout was like most ordinary moving days except for one thing: one of the sensors on my TST Tire Pressure Monitoring System had a dead battery. Luckily, I had a battery to change the sensor battery and that is what I did. I remember doing a thorough tire inspection that morning because I was already engaged with my tire with the TPMS sensor. I visually inspected all tires looking for any imperfection, cuts, bulges, etc. The tires looked great, and my tire pressures were exactly where they needed to be. My TST TPMS was logging all of my pressures correctly and it was time to hit the road.
We were on the road for about an hour when the blowout occurred. The sound of the blowout was shocking. It was a loud shotgun sound and it shook the entire RV. My TST TPMS went into alarm almost simultaneously, and the immediate side force was intense. The forward momentum shifted to the side that the blowout occurred on (in my case, the passenger steer tire) and the fight to keep the RV on the road moving forward was taxing. Everything is amplified when a blowout is on a steer tire as this is how you direct the RV. A blowout on a rear tire isn’t typically as difficult to control since it does not control your steering. I knew that the first thing I needed to do was shift the side force back to a forward motion. If I was not able to do this then the RV would have just continued in that direction, off the road and into the ditch.
Instincts took over at this point and everyone’s instinct may be different. I feel I am lucky to know a lot about tire safety, and I have been trained on what to do in case of a tire blowout many times. In order to get the forward momentum back, you must push the gas pedal down to regain the forward momentum immediately. This forced forward momentum will keep the RV from continuing to push you off the road. When you give it the gas, you are not necessarily trying to gain speed, but rather shift the momentum forward.
In the moment of my blowout, I immediately went to the gas pedal. I was never sure if that is what I would do if this ever happened to me, because the first thing you want to do is slow down. In rethinking my situation, I recalled that I had the cruise control on at the time. Because of this, I had some help because as soon as the blowout occurred the RV slowed and the cruise control kicked in to regain the speed. In my case, it was only a few seconds before I tapped the brakes. When I tapped the brakes, this disengaged the cruise control and my engine braking system kicked in, which meant that the RV was downshifting to slow me down. A perfect combination of the down shifting and me tapping on the brakes is exactly what I needed.
As this was going on, my instincts were to get the RV off the road. So, as I am fighting with the steering wheel to keep the RV straight, I started to ease off of the road, and as soon as the blown tire hit the dirt off of the road, a new wave of side force started. I had not planned on this, but the dirt was very soft and it was pulling me towards a ditch. I fought to keep the rest of the RV on the road, and as my speed decreased to a much lower speed, I pulled off of the road as my RV came to a stop.
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