Tire Blowout on I-80

Exploded TireExploded Tire – Taken in HDR with an iPhone

An Adventure I don’t need to Repeat

I was driving from Michigan down to Illinois, cruising along interstate 80 in my 2002 Buick LeSabre, which I call “the Sabre” (knowingly mis-pronounced Sab-Ray).

I thought everything was fine, thought everything was good.

But it wasn’t.

I was South of Gary, and had just crossed Cline avenue, when I heard what I would describe as an explosion in the right back side of my car. In my rear-view mirror I saw an ejection of black shrapnel and smoke. My first thought was:

I think my tire just exploded.

I was in the second left-most lane of four, so I couldn’t just pull onto the shoulder. I had to cross two lanes, I remember thinking how well my car could still handle, and that maybe the tire wasn’t blown out.

I managed to get over to the right lane, but there is an onramp that merges onto 80. Being a Friday afternoon, it was filled with a constant stream of vehicles that I couldn’t get past. My car was in the area between the onramp and the interstate, but then the engine died. I tried to restart my vehicle, but the engine wouldn’t turn over.

I was essentially trapped between the interstate and the onramp.

On one side of me there were cars and semi-trucks whizzing by at interstate speed and on the other side there were cars driving past me as they merged onto the interstate.

I can’t say I wasn’t a little shaken up at this point, but I will say I remained calm and kept my wits about me. I called AAA (American Automobile Association), and dialed into their roadside assistance number. Explained the situation and that I would need a tow truck. They asked me if I wanted them to call the police, I said “no.”

About this time, a car swerved around me and started fishtailing.

I was glad I didn’t get rear-ended, but thought I was about to witness a crash.

The car nearly slammed into the concrete barrier on the right side of the interstate, but the driver managed to straighten the vehicle out without hitting anything and drove off.

Tire exploded around the orange x, car died and was stranded at the orange circle

The AAA rep on the phone asked if that was tire screeching, I said “Yeah, why don’t you go ahead and call the police.”

After I got off the phone with AAA, I thought to myself, “I’m getting the heck out of here.” So I waited until there was a gap in the onramp traffic, bailed out of my car through the passenger side door, jogged over to the shoulder, hopped a concrete barrier and waited.

Until this point I had not been able to get out of my car and see what was wrong, but from the shoulder I could see my tire was shredded.

A police cruiser arrived, the officer didn’t say much, but he asked for my ID and said I could wait in the car now. He had his lights on and cars were slowing down, so I crossed back over.

About 45 minutes after the initial event, the tow truck arrived, loaded the Sabre up and drove me about 2 hours to a repair shop near where I was going.

Turns out that either the tire blowout or the ensuing tire-breakup actually severed some fuel pump circuits behind the wheel well, which is why the Sabre wouldn’t start.

I’ve had about enough excitement for one weekend. But I’m glad neither I nor anyone else was hurt in the ordeal.

If you are wondering why the HDR Spotting Invite Code Challenge winner was not announced promptly at high noon today, it was because I was getting four new tires for my car.

4 comments on “Tire Blowout on I-80

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