All That's Trucking

Unzipping a tire

July 29, 2011

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You've heard of zipper ruptures; ever seen one? Me, neither -- until now.

British tire specialist ATS Euromaster released dramatic video footage showing the catastrophic effects of inflating a truck tire that previously suffered run-flat damage.

The video forms part of a comprehensive training DVD produced in-house and being shown to ATS Euromaster's 2,300-person team.

Richard Byrne, who heads up health and safety at ATS Euromaster, explains that when a tire is run underinflated, run-flat damage can be caused to its internal structure, rendering the tire no longer serviceable. It must never be repaired or inflated, as the structure could fail and cause an explosion.

"When this happens the compressed air - as much as 130psi in a standard 295/80 R 22.5 - surges into the surrounding area at violent speed and with a force equivalent to 12 tonnes. If you are standing in the way it's like being hit by a truck."

The complete training DVD teaches technicians how to recognise the four basic stages of run-flat damage - crucial to anyone who may inflate a heavy tire - and is designed to ensure a tire which has suffered run-flat damage is never re-inflated and put back into service.

Byrne adds: "It is crucial that technicians do not stand immediately in front of the tire's sidewalls during inflation - or let anyone enter this area. It can literally make the difference between life and death."

You can watch the video below or on YouTube. The slow-motion video clearly shows where the "zipper rupture" got its name.

For more information on zipper ruptures and inflation safety:

"Airing on the Side of Safety," Heavy Duty Trucking.

"Are You on Track With Zipper Training?" from Bridgestone's "Real Answers" magazine. (PDF)

"Preventing Tire Sidewall (Zipper) Rupture," PSI Commercial Fleet Tire Digest


  1. 1. Paul Huffman [ September 19, 2011 @ 11:20AM ]

    Where have you been? This has been going on since 1980. Run a steel radial flat and the next time you pump it up it might unzip. When they go off in the tire cage it will make you get up to see what has happened. I am no stranger to this problem.

  2. 2. Deborah Lockridge [ September 23, 2011 @ 02:55PM ]

    I know it's nothing new -- but Paul, I certainly hope you haven't been close enough to actually see one "unzip" like in this video! I suspect if you had you might no longer be with us...


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Author Bio

Deborah Lockridge

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All That's Trucking blog is just that – the editor's take on anything and everything related to trucking, with the help of guest posts from other HDT editors. Author Deborah Lockridge's career as an award-winning trucking journalist started in 1990.


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