I’ve always wondered…when you’re driving a vehicle with 18 wheels, and one of the tires goes flat (or completely peels off of the rim, leaving huge chunks of stray rubber on the interstate, as I’m sure we’ve all seen at one time or another), is it immediately apparent? Can you tell by the handling of the vehicle? Do you need to pull over and fix it immediately?
I’m thinking that it doesn’t need to be fixed immediately, which accounts for the rubber peeling off of the rim entirely as noted above…maybe the tire goes flat and you don’t notice it until it’s so worn down, it disintegrates and flies off the rim?
Any long-haul drivers out there on the SDMB who can give me the Straight Dope on this one?
Well, according to my mother (a truck driver until last year), it is immediately apparent. In the first place, most truckers are going to be looking at their mirrors and generally watching their truck, so they see it fly off. Also, if the tire goes flat you can usually hear it (it’s pretty loud), and you can feel it in the way the truck handles.
If you do get a flat tire, it’s imperative to change it right away. If you drive on it too long at a different air pressure than the others, it will heat up and possibly catch on fire.
The rubber you see lying around the road usually comes from the tread of a tire coming off. If that happens, it’s still important to change it pronto.
I love my mom.
IAATD, It depends on the situation. If a tire ‘blows out’ on the tractor it is (usually) immediatly apparent and also scares the crap out of you because it can be as loud as a gunshot. A trailer tire blowing out is usually noticable from the noise but it is also about 50 feet away from the driver so if it blows out (relativly) quietly you may not notice.
If a tire just goes down from a slow leak it is easy to miss. How it affects the handling would depend on the load being carried. With a full load the handling diffence would probably be apparent, but with an empty or partial load you most likley would not notice. Since you only check the mirrors for a second or two at a time it is unlikley that you would happen to be looking when a piece came off and if the piece went straight out the back it you would not see it even if you were looking. The tire next to the blown out one can safley carry the extra load at a reduced speed until you can reach a shop to replace the tire, however the increased load increases the chance of blowing this tire out greatly. (two blown out tires next to each other = bad). I have never seen or heard of a tire catching fire from this situation.
Most truck drivers walk around the truck and kick the tires at every stop to check for flats, there have been several times when I have found flats this way and in one case I came across a rim that had just two sidewalls on it.
Thanks for sating my curiosity. I know I could count on y’all.