What to Do If You Have a Flat Tire

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Andrew Biro
Updated on Apr 8, 2022 · 3 min read
In the unfortunate event that you have a flat tire—either on the highway or while parked—and no spare, you will need to ease your car safely to the side of the road and call someone to help you remove and replace the flat tire.
Coming back to your vehicle to find a deflated tire isn’t ideal and no one wants to experience a flat tire while driving down the highway—if it does happen, though, you’ll need to know what to do and who to call, usually either a friend or a roadside assistance program like AAA.
It may also be possible to call your car insurance company if they offer basic roadside assistance—licensed
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What to do if you have a flat tire while parked

Coming out to your vehicle to find a flat tire is never ideal, but it is significantly better than noticing a tire go flat while you’re going 70 mph down the highway. Here’s what you do if you find a flat while you’re parked:
  • Check your surroundings: Before inspecting your tire, it’s always best to be safe and check your surroundings—if the area seems unsafe, or you are uncomfortable, call someone immediately to help change your tire.
  • Inspect the tire: Once you’ve made sure it’s safe to continue, inspect your tire to try and find what caused the problem—it may just be a slow leak rather than a nail or screw embedded in the rubber
  • Change or patch the tire: If you have a spare tire plus the necessary know-how and tools to change one, proceed as you normally would
  • Get a new tire: Your spare tire isn’t a permanent solution and is only designed to handle about 70 miles of driving, so be sure to head to your local tire shop to pick up a new tire as soon as possible

What if I have a flat but no spare tire?

If you don’t have a spare tire, you’ll need to call someone to bring a spare and help you change the tire. If you have a family member or friend that can help, they should be your first call, as it’s usually the cheapest option.
If a family member or friend isn’t available, or if you’re far from home, you could also call a
roadside assistance
company, provided you have a membership with one.
But if a friend isn’t available and you have no roadside service membership, you’ll probably need to call a
tow truck
to tow you back home or to an auto shop where they can change your tire for you.

What to do if you have a flat tire while driving

Now, let’s say you are going down the highway and—uh oh—you feel a tire give out, accompanied by that characteristic “whump-whump-whump” sound of a deflated tire slapping asphalt. Should you find yourself in this situation, follow these steps:
  • DON’T slam on the brakes
  • Carefully ease your vehicle to the side of the road
  • Park on as level a surface as possible
  • Get out and examine the tire (if safe to do so)
  • Change or patch the tire if possible (and you have the equipment for it) OR call a family member, friend, or roadside service company if you don’t have a spare
  • Buy a new tire

What to do if you have a tire blowout

A tire blowout is the worst-case scenario and can be very scary when it happens—there will be considerable noise and steering will become increasingly difficult. The key to handling a tire blowout is not to panic and focus on gaining control of your vehicle, followed by getting off the road as soon as possible.
From there, call a family member, friend, roadside assistance company, or tow truck to help you out of your current situation.
Key Takeaway Should you find yourself with a flat or blown out tire while driving, the most important thing to remember is to not panic or slam on the brakes, but carefully guide your vehicle to the side of the road.

How to save money on car insurance

Though your car insurance provider may not cover the costs to repair a flat tire, they may provide roadside assistance to help you replace it—licensed
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On average, it is possible to drive several hundred yards with a flat tire, as long as you are traveling at low speeds. If you feel your tire go flat while driving, slow to around 15-20 MPH—don’t come to a complete stop—and pull off to the side of the road as quickly and safely as possible. 
Continuing to drive with a flat tire will damage the tire further and may destroy it completely, so go only as far as you need to get out of the road.
Not really, no. Calling the police over a flat tire isn’t recommended, as they aren’t likely to be able to physically assist you, though a passing officer may pull over and be able to give you verbal instructions. That said, a highway patrol officer may be equipped and able to offer assistance changing a tire, should they happen upon you. All in all, there are many other options to call before resorting to the police.

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