Car Repair and Maintenance

How Long Can You Drive on a Flat Tire?

How long can you drive on a flat tire? Well, the problem is what damages while you drive and not how long you drive. But unless your tire is run flat, do not drive it if it is flat.

Depending on circumstances, however, you may be forced to drive on a flat tire. Make sure not to go a long distance. Meanwhile, you can inflate the tire to get you someplace temporarily. But the level of your tire leakage factors in inflating the tire. I.e., you wouldn’t have to inflate it if the leak blows faster.

If your tire blows out on the road, drive the car out of the traffic lane first. Make sure you’re parking in a safe zone; otherwise, drive another short distance to get the vehicle to safety.

Like I mentioned earlier, if your tire is “run flat”, you may drive a few more miles following recommendations.

Can I drive 1 mile on a flat tire?

Yes, you can drive 1 mile on a flat tire. However, if the tire is not tough enough, it may become irreparable and damages the wheel rim. A run flat tire can drive one or more miles comfortably, but you must stop the vehicle after the shortest distance possible. Make sure to get your condition regardless of the situation before a road trip.

How Long Can You Drive on a Flat Tire?

Depending on your tire type, road condition, and traveling speed, you may drive up to 15 minutes on a flat tire. A vehicle tire with robust sidewalls can withstand the pressure for some time, but not significantly.

Meanwhile, as the tire wears, the structural support grows weaker. The tire fails faster when it wears down to the underlying steel belt through the rubber, typically faster than a mere punctured new tire.

Nonetheless, you may drive the car on a flat tire, whether it is run flat or not, for some miles. Only a run flat tire will withstand damage for some miles, typically 50 miles, while an ordinary tire fails after some yards. Your vehicle rim will be destroyed irreparably; allow rims damage faster than steel rims.

In essence, when you sense low tire pressure, pull over in a safe place ASAP. But if the tire is merely low on air and not flat, you can drive further; there will be little to no rim damage. The problem is driving the car on a flat tire with no air; the casing would have damaged already, and it is dangerous.

Meanwhile, it may be challenging to tell when a tire is low on air, especially in sophisticated suspensions and modern low-profile tires. The best practice is to inspect your car tires thoroughly before you put the car on the road. Make sure to inspect with tire gauge at least once monthly or as recommended.

What happens if you drive on a flat tire for too long?

When you drive on a flat tire for too long, it damages your car, beginning from the wheel compartment. Driving on a flat tire for more extended periods will disrupt the brakes, fender, alignment, suspension, rotor, and even the vehicle balance.

How Do You Drive on a Flat Tire?

If you have decent handling techniques, you can drive on a flat tire to a safe zone. Below are the best practices regarding how to drive on a flat tire:

  • Maneuver to a straight lane with no bends.
  • Drive the car out of the traffic lane to a lane with minimal movement.
  • Maintain your maximum speed between 15 and 20 miles per hour. When you exceed 20mph, it increases tire wear, which cuts into your wheel.
  • While driving, avoid inclined surfaces, potholes, or broken patches. You may also drive within the hard shoulder, parking lots, or paved roads.

What flat tire is too flat to drive on?

Of course, flat is different from too FLAT. When the tire is too flat, it stays over the rim, and not advisable to drive on it. But if the tire is not over the rim, you can drive on it slowly to a safe zone, while avoiding potholes, bends, and speed bumps.

Do not drive on a flat tire if the sidewall or rubber keeps the wheel rim from running. And like I mentioned earlier, avoid speed bumps, potholes, and turning to secure more miles on the flat tire.

Disadvantages of Driving on a Flat Tire

Although you may be tempted to continue driving on a flat tire, it wreaks havoc.

Below are the disadvantages of driving on a flat tire:

  • Sidewall Damage

When you drive on a flat tire for too long, it damages the sidewalls, which may be irreparable; thus, the need for replacement. To avoid damaging the sidewall, air up the tire or fit in a spare. Make sure to prevent sidewall damage on your expedition vehicle to keep the trip alive.

  • Wheel Damage

If your tire is completely flat, driving a few blocks can still ruin the wheel.

  • Expensive Repairs

It costs less to air up a flat tire than replace it or purchase a new rim and tire.

  • Imbalance

Handling a vehicle on a flat tire is tougher; the car sways in different directions, especially when you accelerate.

  • Misalignment

What to Do When on a Flat Car Tire

How far can you drive on a flat tire

What do you do when your car tire is flat?

  1. Steer to a Safer Place

If you find that your car is on a flat tire before putting it on the road, leave it until you return or inform the mechanic. But if a tire runs flat on the road while in traffic, keep driving as long as necessary until you get the car to a safer zone.

If you change the car tire amidst the traffic, it endangers other road users. Make sure not to park on the side of the road.

  1. Replace the Tire

Do you have a spare tire? If you have no spare tire, you may have to call the road service, depending on the tire condition.

  1. Air It Up

You can air up the flat tire if you have no spare to replace with. If you can unbolt the tire, roll it to the nearest gas station to have it aired. Alternatively, you may have a cab or taxi take you to the nearest mechanic shop with the tire.

  1. Tow the Car

Do you have AAA? If you have no AAA, you may get one online and have them tow your vehicle. Most residents have their cars towed by AAA, especially during unexpected breakdowns. The monthly subscription costs about $5.99.

Final Thoughts

This article has answered how long you can drive a car on a flat tire. Note that the longer you drive on a flat tire, the more you damage the rim. Prolonged driving on a flat tire exposes the vehicle rim to the ground, resulting in sparks from driving on steel instead of rubber.

Meanwhile, your car would have lost balance, and you would be swerving along the road, especially when you hit the gas. Of course, it endangers road users’ lives, and it becomes punishable to drive while the tire is flat.

In essence, replace the flat tire or get your car to a service station. Understand that it is better to go into debt on a new tire than endanger lives or damage your rims, and sometimes underneath the car and other components. Meanwhile, can the police commandeer your car? Find out!

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Bernard Juchli

Bernard Juchli is an experienced racer, mechanic and team owner who trusts Avon Tyres.Bernard is the lead driver and force behind his Big Dog Garage Race Team. He is the General Manager and Chief Mechanic of Jay Leno’s Garage. Bernard and his crew of seven are responsible for all repairs, restoration and fabrication of Jay’s incredible automobile and motorcycle collection.

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