Massive blow out

So I was driving the cougar home from work. Conditions were mid to high 90s and my speed was between 70 to 80 miles per hour.

My air pressure is 35 psi front and 30 psi rear just like all my other cars.

When I got the car, I was assured that the wheels were 100% all original. I failed to appreciate the implications.

The tires raised no alarm at that time until today.

I’m lucky to be alive, big-time!! :mrgreen:

They are actual bias ply tires!! If I knew that, I would’ve gotten rid of them long ago and put on radial tires.

The blow out was nothing short of a near death experience. The tire exploded and damaged the fender, causing the wheel well trim to be destroyed as well as an incorrect bumper guard trim.

I had to pull on the steering wheel with all my might to keep her from diving into the ditch and flipping. She dragged herself to the shoulder before I could get her fully stopped.

The actual blow out sent debris flying in all directions, some of which flew in front of the vehicle, namely the trim piece. I actually ran over some of that as I was fighting to stay on the road.

Multiple cars behind me had to take evasive action but no one wrecked. Both of my windows were down at the time. I was lucky because no debris came into the car and injured or killed me.

I’m 100% sure it can be repaired. I have 2 cans of the exact Grecian gold paint. The pin stripes are probably undamaged.

There are 2 options.

One: Carefully remove the trim from the opposite side and straighten the fender edges out on the driver’s side and call it good.

Two: Obtain another good used piece of trim and reinstall it, maybe 2 reproductions in the unlikely event those are available.

Either way, some cleanup is called for & I have to get it up on jack stands to get those 4 wheels radial tires or maybe just drive it across the street.

It should get across the street right?

Hopefully the exact or a very close sized radial can be found, even if selection is limited. Some of those bias ply tires are weirdly sized or so I’ve been told.

The important thing is that both myself and the vehicle weren’t seriously harmed.

Another detail is worth noting. Keep air in your spare and check it on a regular basis. As you can see, the air pressure was lower then what would be optimal.

I got her jacked up and changing to the spare with the original jack was fairly easy to do. I didn’t even mess up my uniform that much. I was back on the road in less then 10 minutes.

Carrying one of those portable air pumps with a jump starter is another change I’ll make.

The other 3 tires appear fine but they gotta go, no second chances. No, I do NOT want or need another bias ply tire!!

Aside from that pesky turn signal problem and an older Petronix that gave up the ghost, the car has actually been fairly safe and reliable. I don’t think pulling it off of the street is justified. Getting modern tires and maybe reinstalling the power steering and that new rag joint seems like a good idea.

The parts I have look so lonely & I have all the parts.


The good news is that I think I got those original headlight doors to close a bit faster, removing one obstacle to inspection. I extended the stops that are used when the doors are open all the way and put some rubber bumpers where they end up.

I think the problem was caused simply from the doors opening up to far causing the springs to fight to keep them up once raised.

The electric conversion is $800 new & this will save a lot of money. I was testing the headlight doors which is why I had the vehicle out in the first place.

I feel your pain.
This happened to me on my way back home to Colorado last week. Scared the crap out of me as well.

It’ll be interesting to see what radial tires are available. I think I can fix up the fender ok.

One only wonders if power steering would’ve made the car easier or harder to control.

What did you replace yours with?

I don’t care if it’s 100% correct but it should look like it belongs on the car.

I’m not doing white walls. Those are impossible to keep clean and the wheels are great looking by themselves.

You need to periodically check the age of your tires and look for any cracks. Here is a radial that I had a tread separation on. The tire never did lose air.

It’s good to see your Cougar survived this relatively unscathed. I also hope you didn’t need clean shorts when it came to a stop. That is a hair raising ride.
Tires do have a shelf life believe it or not. I know of several people who have old tires blow out on them. One was a member of our local Cougar Club, Jim was driving his recently acquired 1969 Cougar convertible over Snoqualmie pass on I-90 when one let loos causing him to spin and hit the jersey barrier totaling his car. Fortunately he did not get hurt in the carnage.
The lesson is to check the age of your tires, if you don’t know how take it to a local tire shop.The will where and know how to read the DOT date code.

Glad you’re ok.
With tires, anything over 6-7 years old I would consider replacing regardless of mileage.
Unless you’re just driving around town they should last longer.

Clean my shorts?

No time to even mess them up.

Those tires were essentially new when I took the car and the wheels were originals. I didn’t think that they would blow out less then a year later.

Still, they did get me from Iowa to Texas and then to Baltimore MD in the dead of winter, but as shown radials are safer.

There’s some cosmetic damage to the wheel and the Mercury emblem is destroyed so I’ll have to fix that.

Now to see if a modern tire can be found, God I hope so!!

What’s everyone’s favorite radial tire for those wheels?

I ran Michelin X radials after the OEM tires wore out on my first 70 Cougar and kept using them for 160,000 miles. The B F Goodrich T/A Radials are readily available in sizes suitable for Cougars. There are probably others but these are what I typically see on classics.
Everyone, look up tire date coding on the internet and check all your tires! I get nervous at 7 years regardless of hoe little wear there is. I’m on my second set of BFG’s due to age.

The Cooper Cobra and Goodrich Radial TA are pretty common on classics. Sounds like you use your car as a driver so you might consider up dating your wheels to a later design as well. Putting aluminum modern wheels big improvement in ride and safety. Rim failure at 80 mph due to cracks, fatigue, rust or separation is as bad or worse than a blow out. The original styled steel wheels might be better saved for shows. WCCC has a video how to on using Mustang repop fender trim on 1st gen Cougars so the trim replacement isn’t too expensive. The lower trim piece is also available. Glad you are safe and car is still in one piece.

I like BFG T/As, but Coopers are good too.

I had one too, was deploying for the USAF, and wanted to move my car to storage the day I was going. I clicked off 1st and second gear, which brought the nose way up with a 489 inch FE and 4.11s, and when it came down a bit, it came WAY down LOL

I pulled over and the tread was hanging and tire was flat. No damage, not much scariness, but stranded until my wife got there LOL

The tires were likely 12 years old, maybe older, always inside, got them from a buddy off a high dollar hot rod when he changed, looked brand new. Goes to show you it doesn’t take external dry rot to ruin a tire.

10 years old.

10 years is the limit of tire age on a vehicle that will be driven on the highway.

At 10 years they get replaced even if the tread is perfect and nubs are still in place.

The only time I exceed 10 years is —ONLY— if the vehicle will just put-put around town.

See my emphasis that tires age out at 10 years?

Man I wish I could get 10years on a set. Here in AZ 5-6 years is tops typically. Trailer tires are even worse then that around 3 years even if they look brand new.

Be aware of air pressure and any type of injury on the tire. Note any type of vibration or side to side wobble that might be felt in the vehicle which may indicate a separation. Look for deformations in the sidewall or tread. Typically tires will give you a warning before blowing out, you just need to know what that warning might be or look like.

3year old tire on my toyhauler separated just sitting in the yard. I always cover the tires when not in use. I caught it during my pretrip walkaround which I always pay special attention to the tires.

I declined the chance to take the actual original steel wheels, with those dog dish hubcaps, when I got the car. They were in scary poor condition & were basically FUBAR.

The originals that I have are identical to optional OEM wheels that you could’ve upgraded with at the dealership. Where the previous owner found them I’ll never know, not in the paperwork.

They and the tires on them appeared perfect, tread was super sharp and the vehicle rolled in perfect silence with no side to side pulling.

With safe modern tires, I don’t the wheels themselves will fail. The wheel with the nuked tire looks intact, just some of the chrome paint got ripped off.

Ironically enough, until the blow out, my cougar tracked better with less drift then my 2012 Suzuki SX4 crossover.

If the road is straight, you can just take your hands of the wheel & she’ll stay in the lane.

Here, in the UAE, a tire has to be sold within 2 years of production and replaced after 5 years. Of course, we don’t get much more than 2.5- 3 years out of a tire with the heat here.

Boy does time fly!! I’m finally getting around to getting tires and hopefully inspected soon.

The tire size I need is P215/70/R14 in place of whatever that other one was. Http:// says you can use that one for the cougar GT. Technically speaking, the P205/70/R14 is correct for the 302 small block but if I can safely get in something bigger, what’s not to like?

I’m also having the shop put in a slightly less loud muffler, checking the brakes and finishing putting the power steering back on.

While it’s there, might as well get what I can get. With my time constraints, it makes sense.

Two other glitches:

Figuring out why the sequential turn signals died (replaced turn signal switch already) & getting that vacuum hose back on the defroster vacuum motor with a small hose clamp is basically all I need to do to get it inspected.

Then fun fun fun time.

I’ve had a set of these on order at Coker for 4 months. Apparently the Chinese are not shipping tires right now. Better check to see if they have what you want in stock before ordering.

That’s odd, it clearly says Made in the USA in the description.
“These 215/70R14 BFGoodrich Whitewall tires are proudly Made in the USA and backed by Coker Tire Company’s Life of the Tread warranty.”

Well wherever they come from they are not getting to Coker.

Just read this thread and wanted to share my experience with old tires.Back in 2017 I dodged a bullet with my Eliminator and came out unscathed other than an aftermarket wheel. I still had the wheels and tires I had bought from my cousin as a temporary set just too get my Eliminator on the road after I restored it. This was back around 2000. He had taken them off a Cobra kit car he had bought and we didn’t even know how old they were then. The car has always garage kept and there wasn’t any signs of dry rot with the tires. I do know now how horrible the traction was with the old tires because I guess the rubber had gotten hard. I could blow the tires off even from a 30 mph roll. It was like I was on ice. Well lessons learned I had taken it to a coffee and cars show for the first time in years, and after coming off an interstate highway onto a back road, the right front just went down. I had just been doing well over 80 mph on the interstate before I got off on the back road and luckily was only doing 30 mph when it happened. There was no warning or boom, just felt it go straight on the rim. I pulled off in a gravel driveway within a tenth of a mile afterwards. I heard and felt major grinding immediately when it happened. I got out and couldn’t believe that the tire was completely gone within seconds of it going down. I did notice the valve stem was also gone. I figured the old valve stem just blew out and then the old tire disintegrated immediately. I was so lucky it never hurt a thing but the wheel. Of course that got ruined as soon as I hit the brakes to stop it heated up and burned down the rim bead. I walked back the road to where the gouge in the road from my rim started, and found the tire carcass. I got very lucky! Take it from my experience, don’t mess around with old tires and valve stems on these beautiful cars! It’s not worth it.

Are there date codes on tires which say when they were made? (World’s dumbest question)

The shop located the correct size, P215/70/R14. This is what goes on the GT, not the base model.

They were super slick despite having good treads, scary in the rain. Previous post said that could be a symptom.

If the newer tires have better traction, even better. The seller commented on just how easily you could get wheel spin. We both assumed it was the engine. (Which is still far quicker then my other vehicle & makes passing super easy)