Vehicle tires significantly improve a vehicle’s ride quality and traction. When tires are flat, your rim will sit on the ground, potentially damaging your wheel and suspension, and making your ride much harsher. Having a flat tire is also a major threat to your safety.
Generally, you should pull over as soon as you realize your tires are flat. Driving flat puts you at risk of running into an accident because your vehicle’s braking and handling ability will be greatly reduced.
Driving any distance with a flat also puts your tire at risk of being damaged because the tire is pinched between the rim and the road, tearing the tire’s interior liner, and preventing the tire from being repaired. Only drive on a flat tire to avoid danger, such as when you’re driving on a high-speed road without a shoulder.
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A tire’s ability to drive while flat will vary depending on the tire. There are some run-flat tires that can allow you to travel several miles at a prescribed maximum speed. Driving with a flat tire might seem tempting, but driving on a flat tire will likely damage more than just the tire.
If your tires are completely flat, you should stop driving immediately and call a tow service. However, if you have a slow leak and the rims aren’t riding on the pavement, your vehicle might still be safe to drive to a repair shop. Make sure to drive carefully and slowly if this is the case. You should also regularly check the tire if it still has air while driving to the shop.
How To Know If You Have a Flat
People often wonder how they’ll know whether their tires are flat if they’re the ones driving. If your tire completely runs out of air, then your vehicle’s steering will pull to one side or have significantly increased rolling resistance. You might also feel the tire flap and vibrate, as a result of loose rubber spinning at high speeds. These sensations are pretty obvious, especially at high speeds. As long as you’re paying attention to your vehicle, you probably won’t miss a flat tire.
Consequences of Driving With a Flat Tire
Permanent Tire Damage
As previously mentioned, driving without air inside your tire means the rims will pinch the tire. Additionally, the rubber can permanently bend and warp since it won’t be inflated to the correct shape.
Without the cushioning provided by an inflated tire, the rims will rest on the pavement. If you run into bumps, there’s a high risk of getting a dented rim. Severely dented rims can’t be repaired, so running into a bump with a flat can be expensive, especially if your vehicle has nice rims.
Loss of Control
A flat tire won’t be able to provide a lot of traction. Putting large amounts of lateral force on the tire will cause it to deform and fold. Hence, you should be extremely careful when you’re taking corners or braking with a flat tire. As much as possible, you shouldn’t even press on the brakes when you have a flat. Instead, you should just coast to a stop to prevent the tire from being torn apart.
Suspension or Steering Damage
Without the tire, your suspension will receive more stress from bumps. These bumps can damage components like shocks, struts, and even the wheel hub and brake rotors.
Driving a vehicle with a flat tire is an expensive ordeal. It’s critical that you safely pull over to the side of the road immediately to prevent further damage. From there, you can replace your flat tire with a spare or make use of emergency tire repair kits. You can also reach out to roadside assistance services for help.
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