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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.

, How Far Can You Drive on a Flat?

Pro Tips are nuggets of information direct from ASE-certified automobile technicians working with, which may include unique, personal insights based on their years of experience working in the automotive industry. These can help you make more informed decisions about your car.

Pro Tip: The farther you drive on a flat, the more it will cost you to fix the damage. The cost depends on what kind of wheels you have and what kind of surface you’re traversing because the wheel will be destroyed after all the rubber is gone and you’re driving on the wheel. The wheel will last longer on dirt than it will on concrete or asphalt.

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.

image of a flat tire
Driving any distance with a flat 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.

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.

Damaged Rims 

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.

About The Authors
Richard McCuistian, ASE Certified Master Automobile Technician
Reviewed By Richard McCuistian, ASE Certified Master Automobile Technician

Technical Reviewer at

Richard McCuistian has worked for nearly 50 years in the automotive field as a professional technician, an instructor, and a freelance automotive writer for Motor Age, ACtion magazine, Power Stroke Registry, and others. Richard is ASE certified for more than 30 years in 10 categories, including L1 Advanced Engine Performance and Light Vehicle Diesel.

CarParts Research Team
Written By Research Team

Automotive and Tech Writers

The Research Team is composed of experienced automotive and tech writers working with (ASE)-certified automobile technicians and automotive journalists to bring up-to-date, helpful information to car owners in the US. Guided by's thorough editorial process, our team strives to produce guides and resources DIYers and casual car owners can trust.

Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.

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