How Far Can You Drive On A Flat Tire

Every year, almost 220 million flat tires happen in the United States alone. This means that the average American will experience five flats or more in their lifetime – and since 20% of U.S. drivers do not know how to change a tire, this could spell trouble.

The only other course of action is to call a friend or get roadside assistance — but they might disappoint you and make you wait for a while.  

But sometimes, you run a flat in the most inappropriate of places and help might take hours to arrive – so the only resort left is driving to the nearest workshop on a punctured tire.

However, experts don’t recommend this as it can damage the tire and render it completely useless. The chances are that you’ll never be able to use the tire again. 

But if you must, make sure that help is no more than a few yards away and that you keep the speed steady when driving on a flat tire. 

How Much Distance Can You Cover On A Flat Tire?

Tires either gradually deflate because of punctures or loose valves, or they blow out on-spot – in both scenario’s you need to get your tires back in shape promptly.

Anything below 20 PSI indicates a flat tire. If your TPM shows a PSI that’s dropping fast or if your tire has already blown out, react immediately and change the way your drive.

Make sure you drive no longer than 1.5 miles and go no faster than 20 mph – this is the only way to ensure that your tire has any hopes of surviving this disaster. 

How To Drive On A Flat Tire

Here is a step-by-step guide on quickly making it to the nearest service station:

  • Keep a max speed of 15 to 20 miles per hour; anything over that can be dangerous for you and your car. Remember, the faster you drive, the more your tire wears.
  • Do your best to avoid potholes, broken patches, or inclined surfaces. An excellent idea would be to drive within parking lots, hard shoulder, and paved roads.
  • Drive in a straight with little to no turns or curves.
  • Try to safely leave the traffic without putting yourself or others in harm’s way; look for clearings with minimal movement. 

Why Experts Don’t Recommend Driving On A Flat Tire

The rim puts extraordinary pressure on a flat tire when it’s being driven, and this damages the tire’s tread compound significantly. Here are some of the many reasons why it’s a bad call to drive on flat tires:

The Rims Get Damaged

If there is little to no pressure left in the tire, it can no longer shoulder the weight of a moving car, and the rims are left to bear the forces without any support. That’s why driving on a flat tire can be disastrous for tire rims, and you may have to replace them along with the tire once you are done with the drive. 

It’s Bad For The Car

Driving on a flat tire also harms your car. You may end up with broken brake lines, suspension parts, fenders, and rotors.

It’s Dangerous For You

Above all, a bad tire can compromise the handling and control of vehicles. Also, the disfigured suspension and brake lines may lead to an accident.

You May End Up With An Unusable Tire

If you check the manual for your tires, you’ll find adequate guidance from the manufacturers on what the proper pressure is, and when to change to a spare.

But when you drive on a flat tire, even a small puncture courtesy of damaged roads and stones may aggravate to the point that it won’t be repairable if pushed too far.

Ideally, a one-fourth-inch puncture in diameter on the tread is repairable. Still, sidewall punctures, internally damaged tires, and tires with massive cuts need to be replaced.

How To Ensure That Your Tires Are Always In Top Shape

Even though it’s not possible to tell exactly when you’ll get a flat tire, but if you notice that the tire pressure is not on-point, get it fixed ASAP.

Follow these steps to delay flat tires, and use your tires to their full potential:

Buy The Best Quality

Naturally, you should invest in the best tires out there – make sure they are well-suited for your car, as well as local weather for where you live. You have an option between summer tires, winter tires, all-season tires, and the safest and most efficient run-flat tires.

The idea is to have a tire with a quality tread compound, so even if things go south, they can be forced to work harder than average tires. 

Run-flat tires are an excellent option if you want to avoid being stranded with a flat tire.  These are built with an additional compound that keeps the tires sturdy even when flat, so you can drive on them safely.  

Check Your Tires Before Heading Out

When on the road, tires have to face rocks and potholes and so much more – this can damage the tread and deflate the tires over time.

This is why it is a good idea to thoroughly examine the tires before heading out. This can significantly limit the chances of you ending up stranded on the curbside with flat tires.

If your car is relatively new, you can notice if there is reduced pressure on your tires by referring to the TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System).

Other Precautionary Measures

Chaos creeps in when least expected, so you should always be prepared for the worst. Taking the following measures should help:

  • Learn how to change a flat tire – it’s quick and easy – you don’t need to be an expert
  • Always keep a spare tire and all the tools to change it if required
  • Register with a good roadside assistance provider in your area such as AAA
  • Keep a mobile compressor and sealant kit handy to fix flat tires temporarily
  • Avoid driving on rough roads

Key Takeaways

The bottom line is, there is no telling when you may end up with a flat tire, and the chances are you may have to drive on a flat as a last resort.

If you have run-flat tires, that won’t be an issue, but assuming you don’t — drive at a low speed, maintain it, and don’t go past a few yards.

Photo credit: Toa55/Shutterstock

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

By submitting your comment you agree to our Privacy Policy.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.