Gather ‘round, everyone, and let Car Bibles’ grease monkey editors spin you a tale of danger and youthful stupidity! Ages ago, the author would drive back and forth to high school each and every day. One spring, he saw that he’d picked up a nail in his tire. Refusing to fix it, he “patched” the rubber, filled it with air, and kept driving. A day or so later, he was teetering on the precipice of a ditch after the tire blew.
So what’s the lesson here, dear Car Bibles readers? Don’t drive on flat tires or skimp on fixing such issues. To better understand what a flat tire is and why you absolutely shouldn’t drive on one, we’ve put together this short guide to help you learn from our mistakes.
What’s a Flat Tire?
A tire that’s lost its air due to a puncture, a leak, or the tire detaching from your vehicle’s rim.
Why Shouldn’t You Drive On a Flat Tire?
It all comes down to safety. When your wheels are perfectly inflated, they form four contact patches with the road’s pavement. A tire’s contact patches utilize the tire’s construction, aired pounds per square inch (PSI), and chemical composition to keep you on the road and puttering right along.
When you get a flat tire, though, those contact patches change, and not for the better. As such, the car can become unstable. You may find that you have a reduced ability to steer the car, or, depending on what caused the flat tire and how severe the puncture was, the flat tire could cause the car to become immediately unstable. In this example, the flat tire could produce an accident affecting yourself and those other drivers around you.
You could also damage your rim and car if you continue to drive on a flat tire.
What Do You Do When You Get a Flat Tire?
In the immortal words of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: Don’t panic.
If you think one or more of your tires has gone flat while driving, don’t brake or accelerate suddenly or make any sudden directional changes. Carefully and slowly make your way to the shoulder. There, you can apply more brake pressure and have the car come to a complete stop. You can then inspect the wheel and assess whether or not it can be fixed with a spare tire or tire puncture products like Fix-a-Flat.
If you’re at home and come out to find a flat tire in the morning, you can change the flat tire over to a spare until you can have the tire inspected for a puncture.
Flat Tire Symptoms, Causes, Issues
Here are just a few symptoms of a flat tire.
- Sluggish Steering
If one of your front tires becomes flat, it might reduce the effectiveness of your steering. This will feel like you’re driving through mud or heavy, wet snow.
You might hear the tire fail with a loud pop. Likewise, if your tire goes flat while driving but does not produce a “pop,” you’ll likely hear a loud droning noise that becomes apparent in the cabin. You’ll know it when you hear it.
Tires can go flat in spectacular fashion. In those cases, the car could become immediately unstable.
If a tire completely goes flat, it can produce a thumping vibration throughout the car as the wheel is no longer round, but rather oblong.
Car Bible’s Glossary for Flat Tire
Welcome to Bible School!
The bead of a wheel is where the tire and rim form their seal, keeping the air inside the wheel.
Your rim is the metal circle that connects to the vehicle’s axle and which the tire wraps itself around.
A tire is the rubber compound that’s wrapped around the rim.
A wheel is both the tire and the rim.
TPMS stands for Tire Pressure Monitoring System. This electrical system monitors the tire’s air pressure or PSI.
PSI stands for Pounds per Square Inch and refers to the amount of air pressure within a tire.
Alloy is another word for rim, but British. In America, it is a metal made of other metals, such as an aluminum alloy.
Your Questions, Our Answers on Flat Tires
Car Bibles answers all your burning questions!
Q: How Do I Fix a Flat Tire Permanently?
A: There’s only one way to permanently fix a flat tire caused by a puncture, and that’s by replacing it. Once a tire has a puncture, it will always be compromised and you should replace it when possible.
Q: Can You Put Air in a Flat Tire?
A: You can, but depending on whether or not you have a puncture, it may or may not hold air for an extended period of time.
Q: How Much Does It Cost To Fix a Flat Tire?
A: You can fix a punctured flat tire fairly cheaply with either a Fix-a-Flat-type product or a plug for less than $15. But to completely fix a flat tire, you’re likely going to have to purchase a new tire, which runs between $115-$10,000.
Video on Flat Tire
Car Bibles’ editors understand that not everyone is a text-based learner. For those kinesthetic people out there, we have your back with a video showing you exactly what a flat tire is and how to repair it. We pulled it from one of our favorite, and most trusted, sources and it’s a great additional resource.
Car Bible’s Favorite Flat Tire Related Products
You can buy tools to fix a flat tire at almost every auto parts and home improvement store, aswell as online stores like Amazon. You have a sea of options to select from. We’ve consolidated that vast array to this list of our favorite Tire Sealants. Check it out.
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