I had some severe vibration, which started suddenly, in my Transit camper. As soon a safe I pulled over and checked the tyres and wheel nuts. No obvious damage but I didn't spend long because I was causing an obstruction. There was no smell of hot brakes or rubber. The rev counter was fluctuating but I reckoned it to be wheel-related rather than engine-related because the feel changed with speed but not revs (including coasting in neutral).

I drove on slowly looking for a better place to stop and the vibration went away after a few minutes, before I could find somewhere to get right off the busy country road. The handling seemed normal once the vibration stopped - I'm sure I wasn't running on a flat.

About 10-20 minutes (<15 miles) later, BANG went the back left tyre. Luckily I could pull off the road to change the wheel (a rather laborious task on a Mk6 Transit made more so by a rusty spare-wheel mechanism) and all is well. The tread of the tyre was lying in the road about where I was when it went bang.

I'm trying to get my head round what happened. Clearly the vibration (which was enough to loosen screws in the living area above) was coming from the wheel, but why did the vibration go away with the tyre still inflated? Given that I pulled off the road when it started vibrating and the wheel looked OK, what warning signs did I miss? Would it have been worth moving the van a few feet and inspecting all the wheels again? I was the only adult present so couldn't watch the wheels and roll along.

  • I still have the dead tyre if pictures are of interest, but can't currently dismount it from the spare wheel storage mechanism as it was so stiff I damaged the tool and have to grind it back into shape, as well as getting some penetrating oil in there. – Chris H Aug 30 '18 at 14:32
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    I wouldn't know for sure, but the vibration surely could have been the tire which blew out. If a tire slips a belt, it can become unstable and cause a vibration. If it slips further, the tire can self destruct. It may have gotten back to a state just prior to blowing where the vibration was either not there or not noticeable. Sounds reasonable anyway. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Aug 30 '18 at 14:40
  • @Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 "not noticeable" is certainly possible as an 18-year-old transit isn't the smoothest ride, but the stop in the vibration was very abrupt. It would be an awful coincidence if there was another cause for the vibration. As the remaining tread is a flat piece rather than a circle I assumed it wasn't running loose on the rets of the tyre, but maybe the shock of a big 67psi tyre letting go snapped it. – Chris H Aug 30 '18 at 14:45
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    Yah, that's my suggestion. Agree that the fear of it being something else is a righteous fear. My experience has told me that coincidences in these sorts of things are not very common. Your best bet is to get the replacement tire fitted and while you do, have the rest of the tires checked for any issues, as well as a good once over of the vehicle. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Aug 30 '18 at 14:53
  • The vibration would probably go away if the tire pressure dropped. You only think you weren't running on a flat. Many vehicles are pretty stable on only three wheels, and if nothing happened to collapse the damaged tire, it might superficially look "OK" even if it only had 20psi not 67 psi of air in it. (Re stability on 3 wheels, a work colleague once had a rear wheel completely detach itself from the car he was driving at about 70 mph, and the first he knew about it was when the wheel, rolling along a gentle down-slope, overtook the car!! (He stopped safely, still on 3 wheels). – alephzero Aug 30 '18 at 19:49

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