Scary catastrophic tire failure (not on an i3)

BMW i3 Forum

Help Support BMW i3 Forum:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.

alohart

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 1, 2014
Messages
3,083
Location
Honolulu, HI
Last night, we were surprised by the sound of an explosion. Residents of another of our reinforced concrete apartment buildings reported their building being shaken by the explosion. The cause was the explosion of a front tire on a 2018 Jaguar XJ parked in our parking garage below our apartment buildings. The explosion was so powerful that it blew the front fender off this Jaguar! Fortunately, the Jaguar wasn't being driven and no one was standing next to the exploding tire.

I wondered whether the owner had installed cheap Chinese tires on his Jaguar, but the tire was a Goodyear Eagle Sport made in Germany! The tire was manufactured in week 41 of 2016, so it was a bit old. However, no dry rot cracking was visible except where the tire was pressed against the concrete floor.

I've never heard of such a powerful explosion of an automobile tire. Makes me a bit leery when I'm inflating my i3 rear tires to the maximum inflation pressure embossed on their sidewalls.

As can be seen in the attached photos, the tire ripped across its treads and around its outer sidewall. Was this catastrophic tire failure really unusual? What might explain such a failure on a supposedly high-quality tire? Might this have been due to a defect in the construction of this tire although it lasted over 7 years before it failed.

tempImagehkDywT.png
tempImageXs6ned.png
 
Yeah … over inflated is the only way that happened … maybe a prank where someone attached a battery operated air pump and set it to 60 pounds
 
Something very similar recently showed up on a FB group. The level of destruction was unbelievable!

But I'm sure a fluke of some sort – overinflation, defect, recent damage – not anything that would indict a particular make, model, tire brand, or EVs as a category.

Screenshot_20240327-080705~3.jpg
 
Yeah … over inflated is the only way that happened … maybe a prank where someone attached a battery operated air pump and set it to 60 pounds
In the photo, the valve stem cap looks like it's still there.

I have never heard of a tire just deciding to explode one night. I've seen tires on fire going down a highway on a semi-trailer yet never witnessed anything that catastrophic. I've heard of tires exploding in a burning garage, but that's just something else. Wow. Just wow. Hope they got the road hazard plan . . .
 
When I was a kid, a friend and I were filling our bike tires at a gas station. Remember the free in ground high pressure air lines near the pumps? Anyway, as I was filling my tires and being careful of the pressure, I heard a loud noise and saw that one of my friend's tires had exploded. He was injured by rubber shrapnel, but it certainly could have been worse. It's amazing how much energy is released from an over inflated tire.
 
Makes me a bit leery when I'm inflating my i3 rear tires to the maximum inflation pressure embossed on their sidewalls
You should be leery, you never inflate to that pressure, you always inflate to the pressure specified on the label in the door well. For me it's 33 for front and 41 for rear. The sidewall says 51, which is a manufacturer spec, not one specific for the vehicle. You are likely overinflating especially when your tires come up to temperature while driving.
 


Ten years ago, these were quite popular items on YouTube, mainly sourced from Russian and Eastern European truck dash cameras.

In the 1964 time frame, I had a fuel tank truck blow a steer tire and veer into the median on the interstate in Montana right in front of my jeep, and a massive chunk of tread missed my windshield (and my head) by inches.) It scared me half to death and sounded like a cannon shot.
 
You should be leery, you never inflate to that pressure, you always inflate to the pressure specified on the label in the door well. For me it's 33 for front and 41 for rear. The sidewall says 51, which is a manufacturer spec, not one specific for the vehicle. You are likely overinflating especially when your tires come up to temperature while driving.
I've heard this advice for many years but have chosen not to follow it without any negative but with some positive results. I began inflating tires to their maximum pressure when I bought a Honda Insight hybrid in 2002. This was common practice with Insight owners who wanted to maximize their fuel efficiency.

I've been active in car-specific forums for years and have never read of any Insight, Mitsubishi i-MiEV, or i3 owner whose tires failed due to overinflation. For all of these vehicles, there were owners who maximized their fuel efficiency and range by inflating their tires to the maximum pressure, apparently with no negative effects other than a bit rougher ride and a bit lower traction. Increased tire wear in the center of the tread didn't occur.

Recommended or maximum tire pressures always apply to a tire that hasn't been driven recently (i.e., "cold" tires), so I'm not worried about inflation pressures exceeding the maximum pressure when driving. Auto and tire manufacturers take this into consideration when making their recommendations.
 
I've heard this advice for many years but have chosen not to follow it without any negative but with some positive results. I began inflating tires to their maximum pressure when I bought a Honda Insight hybrid in 2002. This was common practice with Insight owners who wanted to maximize their fuel efficiency.

I've been active in car-specific forums for years and have never read of any Insight, Mitsubishi i-MiEV, or i3 owner whose tires failed due to overinflation. For all of these vehicles, there were owners who maximized their fuel efficiency and range by inflating their tires to the maximum pressure, apparently with no negative effects other than a bit rougher ride and a bit lower traction. Increased tire wear in the center of the tread didn't occur.

Recommended or maximum tire pressures always apply to a tire that hasn't been driven recently (i.e., "cold" tires), so I'm not worried about inflation pressures exceeding the maximum pressure when driving. Auto and tire manufacturers take this into consideration when making their recommendations.
It's fine if you want to risk that, but just know overinflating your tires by doing this is a risk. The reason they get better mileage is due to less tire contact for lower rolling resistance. The risk is not just to blowing a tire, but improper wear patterns and less contact surface so your tires are more likely to break free of the road (like in a sudden stop). Your experience is purely anecdotal, I would side with the engineers and designers on this one when safety of myself or family is involved. It's just not worth a little extra range.
 
The risk is not just to blowing a tire, but improper wear patterns and less contact surface so your tires are more likely to break free of the road (like in a sudden stop).
There were absolutely no improper wear patterns which I monitored closely. I think that this was more likely for bias-ply tires rather than radial ply tires.

The risk of slightly lower traction is certainly true.

In 2018, BMW increased their inflation pressure recommendations for the same tires from 33 psi F/41 psi R to 39 psi F/44 psi R even though nothing significant changed. When I inflated the tires on our 2014 i3 to above BMW's recommendations, I received the same warnings that you have issued, yet apparently BMW later decided that higher inflation pressures were OK after all. My point is that tire inflation pressure recommendations aren't absolute with no variation allowed.
Your experience is purely anecdotal, I would side with the engineers and designers on this one when safety of myself or family is involved. It's just not worth a little extra range.
It's more than just my experience because hundreds or maybe thousands of Honda Insight owners increased the inflation pressure of their tires to increase their fuel efficiencies. Some were irresponsible in my opinion because they inflated their tires above the maximum inflation pressure on the sidewall, but most of us didn't.

We all must decide how much risk to assume in our lives. I am willing to accept what I feel is very minimal additional risk to reduce my electrical energy consumption which for over 9 years of i3 ownership is averaging 5.2 miles/kWh. Most electrical energy is generated by burning oil here, so I do what I can to reduce my electrical energy consumption.
 
Just for clarification, the max PSI indicated on the sidewall is the maximum COLD pressure for the tire to carry its maximum rated load.

So it's expected that as a tire is in use – even filled to this max pressure and carrying it's maximum 1,100+ pound load – it will heat up, and the pressure will increase over what's printed on the sidewall.

And because the i3's empty weight is around 3,000 lbs, one could imagine carrying four 200 lb adults and a bit of gear and coming close to the tires max load rating.

So just like with bicycles a hefty rider is going to settle on a higher PSI than a Cat 1 racer, the tire isn't going to explode as long as the max pressure and weight rating are not violated (and the tire isn't used in an abusive way).
 
Back
Top