Is it Okay to Drive on a Flat Tire?

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You should never drive further on a flat tire than you have to, as you’ll have less control and run the risk of severely damaging your wheel.
No matter where or when they happen, flat tires are never good. They’re usually the result of nails or other sharp debris on the road puncturing your tire, but low tread, overinflation, pothole collisions, or extreme temperature changes can also cause a blowout.
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Can you drive on a flat tire?

The short answer is no.
While driving a short distance may be necessary, especially to get you out of the way of moving traffic, you shouldn’t drive on a flat any further than needed to get safely to the side of the road.
Driving on a flat tire at any speed can result in an accident, as it’s much harder to control a car with a flat tire. The weight of the car on your tire’s rim can also cause serious damage. Replacing a tire is much cheaper than replacing an entire wheel, so avoid driving on a flat at all costs.
Key Takeaway Driving on a flat is dangerous and can cause significant damage to your wheel.

How can I tell if my tire is flat?

Visually inspect your tires

A visual inspection of your tires before you take off can alert you to tires that are lower than they should be. If a tire looks low, check the pressure with a pressure gauge. If it’s below the recommended PSI, look for a nail or other debris that could be causing the leak.
If you have a battery-powered air pump, top off the tire where you are. If not, take the car to a gas station air pump and fill it to a safe PSI before taking it to a mechanic. If you have a spare tire, exchange it for the afflicted tire if you can.

Your sensors may alert you

Many cars have tire pressure sensors that will warn you when your tire pressure is below the appropriate PSI. Older sensors will only indicate that a tire is low, while newer ones might tell you which tire is low and give you the current PSI.

Pay attention while driving

When you’re on the road, you may sense some tell-tale signs that one of your tires is low. The car may feel lopsided, especially on level surfaces. You may also hear a slapping sound of rubber on pavement as you move.
If you encounter any of these signs, pull over and check your tires as soon as it’s safe for you to do so.
Key Takeaway Pay attention and conduct regular visual tire inspections to catch a flat tire before it becomes too problematic.

What should you do if your tire goes flat while driving?

If your tire blows while you’re driving, pull over immediately. Don’t drive any further than necessary on a flat tire as you run the risk of an accident or damage to the rim.

In low-traffic areas

If you’re in a low-traffic area with a spare tire and the equipment to change it, go ahead. But there can still be risks. If it’s dark, rainy, or there is no safe shoulder—or if you just feel uncomfortable—call a tow truck.
Always put your hazard lights on so that other vehicles on the road can safely navigate around you.

In high-traffic areas

Even if you have a spare and the know-how to change the tire yourself, it’s dangerous to attempt this in a high-traffic (or high-speed) area. If you can, move your car to a safer space—like an off-ramp or close side street.
In this situation, it’s usually best to call a tow truck. If your insurance provider offers roadside assistance options, use them! That’s what they’re there for—to get you to safety when you need it most.
Key Takeaway If you’re unable to safely change the tire yourself, call a tow truck for help.

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Can I drive one mile on a flat tire?

Driving at all on a flat tire is ill-advised. The pressure from the weight of the car on the tire rim can cause serious damage. It’s also more difficult to control the car when it’s moving, and your chance of an accident is higher.

Will driving on a flat tire ruin the rim?

Yes, very likely. A full tire diverts pressure from the car’s weight away from the rim. Without that diversion, the car will press the rim down against the pavement with a great deal of weight, which will bend the rim. That sort of damage is usually irreparable and means you’ll have to replace the entire wheel, not just the tire.
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