Dear Tom and Ray:
Yesterday I went out to put air in my tires and I had the same problem I always do: I’m very afraid that the tire will explode while I’m filling it, probably ripping the skin off my face. I end up filling the tire only one or two PSI at a time while looking away, then rechecking the pressure, and so on. Can you give me any advice? Has a tire ever exploded on you? Do you still have your faces? Thanks. — Ashley
TOM: Unfortunately, for those living near us, we DO still have our faces.
RAY: You have tireophobia, Ashley. But you can stop worrying. We’ve never seen it happen in all the years we’ve been fixing cars.
TOM: It’s virtually impossible to explode a tire while filling it up with air. Even though your tire is designed to run on, say, 30 to 35 pounds of pressure per square inch (psi), it would take something like 250 psi to cause the rubber to break apart.
RAY: The air compressors in gas stations and tire shops don’t produce anywhere near that much air pressure. So even if you grossly overinflated your tire, it wouldn’t explode.
TOM: We occasionally hear about a tire exploding, but it’s almost always a truck tire. And it’s usually what we think of as a “blow out,” when the tire is on the road, traveling at high speed and generating a lot of heat.
RAY: Or it’s while the truck tire is being mounted, and the bead fails. But even those instances are rare.
TOM: So you can stop worrying, Ashley; it’s not going to happen. But we know that phobias are not entirely rational. So if it really ruins your day to inflate a tire, find a full-service gas station or a friendly repair shop, and tip some guy to do it for you. Find some guy like my brother, who’ll be more than happy to risk his face for a couple of bucks. After all, how much worse could it get?
You can listen to Tom and Ray Magliozzi’s “Car Talk” program at 10 a.m. Saturdays on National Public Radio station WUSF, 89.7 FM.
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