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Burst tyres can be caused by a number of things but are mainly a result of the failure of a vital component caused by a split, fracture or general wear and tear of the tyre.
Upon the tyres side wall is a guide provided by the tyre manufacturer stating the tyres load and speed rating. Although the tyre failure will not occur as soon as a tyre is overloaded or over inflated, performance will be severely affected and there is a high risk of burst tyres.
The tyre will not automatically fail due to the margin of safety built into the casing which provides extra strength allowing it to cope with day to day use. However overloading a tyre or running it at the incorrect pressure can have varied outcomes depending on road conditions including potholes or obstacles and any collision the tyre may encounter such as kerbing. All of these situations will occur in day to day life and the tyre is expected to cope with these, however running the tyre at the incorrect requirements will affect this ability to cope. It is therefore imperative you get into the habit of checking tyre pressure at least once a month.
On the tyre sidewall the manufacturer states that the maximum pressure will be 36 psi, though it certainly won't fail at 37 psi, so there is a larger margin of safety available. Although the manufacturer's guidelines for tyre safety should always be followed, it is more likely that an overinflated tyre will burst at around 150 psi. When a tyre does eventually burst it is actually the tyres metal rim that buckles first caused by the excessive pressure.
In order to ensure tyre design is effective, during the manufacturing process it is common for tyre engineers to test tyres by blowing it up on a reinforced rim, allowing them to double check their computer design programs. For safety this is done in a reinforced steel cage. Additionally they use water to do this and not air, meaning there will be less damage caused by the burst tyres.
The tyre engineer will dictate the margin of safety incorporated into the tyre, this is done by measuring the type of surface that the tyre is likely to be used for. For example tyre designed for off road use will have a higher safety margin than ones used for on road. Tyre safety margin is calculated to ensure satisfactory performance and prevent claims against the tyre manufacturer.