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Tom and Ray try to ease reader’s tireophobia

Published:   |   Updated: March 4, 2013 at 04:47 PM

Dear Tom and Ray:

Yesterday I went out to put air in my tires and I had the same problem I always do: Iím very afraid that the tire will explode while Iím 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. ó Ashley

TOM: Unfortunately, for those living near us, we DO still have our faces.

RAY: You have tireophobia, Ashley. But you can stop worrying. Weíve never seen it happen in all the years weíve been fixing cars.

TOM: Itís 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 donít produce anywhere near that much air pressure. So even if you grossly overinflated your tire, it wouldnít explode.

TOM: We occasionally hear about a tire exploding, but itís almost always a truck tire. And itís usually what we think of as a ďblow out,Ē when the tire is on the road, traveling at high speed and generating a lot of heat.

RAY: Or itís while the truck tire is being mounted, and the bead fails. But even those instances are rare.

TOM: So you can stop worrying, Ashley; itís 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, whoíll 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 Magliozziís ďCar TalkĒ program at 10 a.m. Saturdays on National Public Radio station WUSF, 89.7 FM.

Got a question about cars? E-mail Click and Clack by visiting the Car Talk website at www.cartalk.com. They canít answer your letter personally but will run the best letters in the column.

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