Why You Shouldn’t Drive on a Flat Tire
Save the tire!
- Auto Repair and Maintenance
- Guides & Gear
The Drive and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links. Read more.
Flat tires are a part of life. You’ll have to deal with one at some point, and it’s best to know what to do when that encounter occurs. Self-reliance is one of life’s greatest tools, and The Drive’s editors are here to help.
The first option for dealing with a flat tire is always replacing it with a spare tire, but we realize that’s not always a possibility. Maybe the spare tire is also out of air, maybe it’s missing, or maybe you forgot to put your jack back in its place last time. Oops. Whatever the reason, you’re left with a flat and no way to remedy the situation yourself.
So the thought crosses your mind: “It’s only 20 more minutes, maybe I can make it home ….” I don’t think so, Tim. Flat tires are not to be driven on for extended periods of time for any reason. To understand why, let’s dig into the details.
Why Did I Get a Flat Tire?
There are an incalculable number of things that could cause a flat tire, but these are the most common:
- Sharp road debris
- Pothole or other harsh pavement
- Dry rot or wear and tear
How Far Can I Drive on a Flat Tire?
Unless it’s up the street or up the driveway, don’t even think about it.
What Could Happen If You Drive on a Flat Tire
If you drive on a flat tire for an extended period of time, it is a certainty that you will damage at least one thing on your vehicle. This is what could happen.
Shred the Tire
A flat tire is only that: a flat tire. That doesn’t mean it’s dead! If it were cleanly punctured, it can be repaired and used for miles to come. If you drive on it for any sort of extended period, it will become unusable, no matter the puncture.
Damage the Wheel
Without a wall of air cushioning the wheel from the ground, it’s left exposed to potholes, rocks, cracks, and other road obstacles. Especially if the rubber shreds off and leaves the wheel directly on the pavement, the wheel will bend or crack.
Damage the Wheel Studs, Brakes, Suspension, Fenders
Once the tire shreds, the wheel starts taking direct impacts, and that impact starts transferring to other parts connected to the wheel.
Endanger Yourself and Others
Tires are designed to be the contact point between your car and the road. They are designed to give you the control you need over your car. Without one of these tires, the entire driving experience is affected and essentially disabled. By driving without an inflated tire, you are putting yourself, anybody in the car, and any other surrounding drivers at severe risk.
What Should I Do If I’m Stranded With a Flat Tire and No Spare?
You have a few options:
- Use a temporary emergency fix such as Fix-a-Flat
- Call a tow
- Call a friend with a spare tire
- Use a friend to have the tire repaired
FAQs About Flat Tires
You’ve got questions, The Drive has answers!
Q. So Can You Put Air In a Flat Tire?
A. You can, but the air will soon leak out again. How quickly it leaks out will depend on the size of the leak and/or the severity of the reason it is flat.
Q. Ok, Then How Do I Fix a Flat Tire Permanently?
A. Depending on the size and location of a puncture, you can have your professionally repaired at a service center for $20-40, and it should hold for quite some time. Eventually, you’ll still have to replace it, though.
Q. But How Much Does It Cost To Fix A Flat Tire?
A. Quick-fix aerosols can temporarily fix flat tires for $10-15. Service center repairs will likely cost $20-40. And replacement tires can cost between $50-$500 a tire, depending on your application. Bugatti’s Veyron tires cost a staggering $10,000 for a set of four.
Q. And How Long Can a Car Sit With a Flat Tire?
A. A car is designed to sit with all four wheels and tires at an even height. If you hope to save the tire, it’d be best to get the weight of the car off the rubber with a jack and/or jack stand. If this is your only option, then that’s your only option, just try to get a new or repaired tire back on it as soon as possible.
Q. Then Why Did My Tire Go Flat Overnight?
A. Was it full before you parked it? Then you have a somewhat significant leak. Was it already pretty low when you parked it? Then you have a slight slow-release leak.
Q. Can I Leave My Car on a Jack Stand Overnight?
A. As long as you do it on a safe flat surface out of the way of heavy foot traffic, yes. Try to use a frame point rather than suspension.
Q. How Do You Tell If a Tire Is Flat Or Just Needs Air?
A. Is the tire still mostly inflated? Then it just needs air. Is the tire all crinkled on the ground underneath the rim? Then it’s flat.
Sometimes You Need a Certified Mechanic
As much as The Drive loves to put the "you" in do-it-yourself, we know that not everyone has the proper tools, a safe workspace, the spare time, or the confidence to tackle major automotive repairs. Sometimes, you just need quality repair work performed by professionals you can trust like our partners, the certified mechanics at Goodyear Tire & Service.
Let’s Talk, Comment Below To Talk With The Drive’s Editors!
We’re here to be expert guides in everything How-To related. Use us, compliment us, yell at us. Comment below and let’s talk! You can also shout at us on Twitter or Instagram, here are our profiles.