Updated September 2019
Getting a flat tire on the road can be a scary experience, but what you do in the moments after a tire loses pressure is very important. Here’s why you really shouldn’t drive on a flat tire.
When a tire loses a significant amount of air pressure, it’s what is referred to as flat. This can occur for many different reasons, such as a defect, improper air pressure, a puncture, or over use.
Although it is rare, some tires do have built-in defects that may be visible as bumps or bulges on the sidewall of the tire. If you ever see these types of abnormalities, do not drive on the tire and have a certified tire mechanic inspect it right away. Another sign that your tire may soon fail are cracks in the surface. If you spot cracks in the surface of your tire, it’s very likely the tire is too old and should not be driven on.
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A tire that is at the end of its life cycle can also show signs it may rupture if it’s not replaced. Any tire under 2/32nds of tread depth should be replaced as soon as possible and any tire with the steel belts showing through the tread should not be driven at all. It’s important to always check your air pressure as well to ensure it’s at the correct level. Driving on under-inflated tires causes increased wear, damage and heat that can lead to a tire prematurely failing. Remember that fluctuations in temperature can also affect your tire pressures.
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A puncture is much harder to prevent and can occur on a seemingly clear stretch of roadway. Regardless of what causes a tire to go flat, when it does happen, it’s imperative to minimize the amount of time spent driving on it.
We’ve all seen it before; some of you may have even done it. A vehicle has had a tire go flat and the driver is slowly driving on the shoulder on of the road. Instead of waiting on a tow truck or taking the time to install the spare tire, drivers sometimes try to ‘limp’ their cars to a nearby service center. This is not the right response to a flat tire. As Goodyear states: