Have you ever been in a situation when you car has developed a flat tyre and you thought can I drive on the flat tyre.
The general answer would be no. If you returned to you car to discover a flat tyre then you shouldn’t move the car until the tyre is repaired or replaced. You could use a tyre puncture repair kit, compressed can sealant or if available a spare wheel to repair the flat.
If however you’re driving the car and you suddenly develop a flat tyre due to a puncture you may have to drive the car a short distance to reach a place of safety where you can safely access the situation.
How do I know if I have a flat tyre?
This all depends on when and how you develop a flat tyre. If your car is parked on the street or your drive then you can usually work out if you have a flat tyre by doing a visual inspection of all tyres and you may notice a tyre with less pressure since its lower then the others. You could then get the pressure checked for the suspect tyre and if necessary get it replaced of repaired.
If your driving the car and your develop a flat as your driving it might be a bot harder to work out that you have a flat as soon as it happens but you will get a certain feedback from the car. Once clear sign is that you hear a loud noise especially of there is a blow out. With a slower puncture you may notice that the handling of the car starts to change with the steering wheel feeling heavier and the car harder to manoeuvre.
You may also find the the sound the car makes against the surface of the road changes so listen out. If any of these signs are present you need to stop the car as soon as possible to check your tyres.
Once parked up as mentioned earlier if the tyre is completely flat it will be easy to see with a simple visual inspection, however if its partially flat it may be more difficult. In this case your best bet would be to check the tyre pressures using a pressure gauge. If you have a gauge available great, if not then you may want to look for a nearby petrol filling station where you could use their pressure gauge and air compressor.
Why do you have a flat tyre?
You might be asking yourself how you ended up with a flat tyre. There are a few reasons this could happen. It could be because the tyre has been over inflated or under inflated and over time this has lead to the thread being worn too much.
In some cases your tyre may have been vandalized. If your tyre seems to go flat on a regular basis then you may be suffering from an underlying problem such as having issues with the tyre valves or your using the tyres in situations they are not designed for such as off-roading on rugged terrain.
The most common reason is that you may have driven over a sharp object such as a nail unknowingly.
What happens when you drive on a flat tyre?
Clearly when your driving on a flat tyre you will have a greater risk of losing control and this risk grows if you drive at a faster speed or if the road conditions have been affected by weather.
As your driving the car you will start to notice that it becomes harder to control and keep the car in a straight line. You will notice that the car will drift or pull towards the direction of the side of the car the flat has occurred on.
How dangerous is it to drive on a flat tyre
Driving a car whilst having a flat tyre is dangerous for yourself and other road users. The tyres on a car are its only contact with the road surface so if this contact is compromised then the control you would have will be affected. There is a higher probability that you will lose control of the car due to it becoming unbalanced and harder to control.
The stopping distances can be impacted in a negative way meaning that it could take you longer to stop. The tyre itself may not be constructed to be driven with a flat so could disintegrate whist your driving leading to small pieces of rubber damaging the car, the highway and other road useers
Is Driving with a flat tyre illegal?
The requirement for any motorist is to ensure that the car they are driving is roadworthy.
What does the Highway Code say:
“Tyres MUST be correctly inflated to the vehicle manufacturer’s specification for the load being carried. Always refer to the vehicle’s handbook or data. Tyres should also be free from certain cuts and other defects.”
As the Highway code mentions a tyre they must be fit for road use. Tyre’s must have no damage or defects that may lead to damage to the highways or road users.
If your driving with a flat tyre then your insurance could be invalidated and if stopped by a traffic officer you may receive a fine.
How far can I drive on a flat tyre?
Generally you want to avoid any driving whilst the tyre is flat due to the fact that the rims and other parts of the car including suspension components can get damaged.
If you get a flat during a drive then slow down as soon as your aware about the flat and look for a safe place to stop and park the car. This is especially the case if your on a busy road. You may be able to drive 100 – 200 yards at a speed under 20 mph to reach a suitable parking spot.
What does the Highway Code say
“If a tyre bursts while you are driving, try to keep control of your vehicle. Grip the steering wheel firmly and allow the vehicle to roll to a stop at the side of the road.
If you have a flat tyre, stop as soon as it is safe to do so. Only change the tyre if you can do so without putting yourself or others at risk – otherwise call a breakdown service.”
As mentioned driving for longer then necessary may result in increased repair costs due to not just the tyre needing replacement but also components of the car such as the rims, brake lines and suspension parts.
If however you are using run flat tyres then the construction of these tyres will provide the support within the tyre to allow you to continue driving for longer but you will need to check the manufacturers guidelines about the distances and maximum speed you can drive with your run flat tyres.
How to repair or change a Flat Tyre
Once you have inspected the tyre its time to get it repaired to allow you to continue on with your journey. You have a number of options to hand:
It may be possible to repair the puncture yourself if your carrying the correct equipment or can lay your hands on it. Newer cars will usually be supplied with a puncture repair kit that replaces the spare wheel found in older car models. The kit will usually comprise of some tyre foam sealant and a pump. If this is the case with your car then you just need to follow the instructions to inflate the tyre with the kit. It can normally take 10-15 minutes for the pump to do its job.
If you have an older car then you may have planned for a puncture by buying a suitable compressed can sealant ready to take out in a emergency. These cans are lightweight, easy to handle and store. Once you have used these cans the tyre will usually take less then a minute to inflate.
If you have no can sealant or puncture repair kit then check to see if you have a spare wheel in the boot. If a spare wheel is available then you may want to change the tyre yourself. You will need to use the supplied car jack to lift the car off the ground safely to allow the flat tyre to be replaced with the spare wheel. This option will require more physical exertion and will take longer. The amount of time it takes will differ between people based on their skill, experience and physical health.
If your a member of an automotive recovery service such as the AA or RAC then your may have a tyre repair/replacement package included as part of your membership. So you could call them if you feel it’s necessary.
6 Tips to avoid a flat tyre
If you can avoid a flat tyre happening in the first place then you will save yourself a lot of stress, time and money. Sometimes it may be unavoidable due to driving over a sharp object but there are steps you can take to reduce the chances of having a slow puncture lead to the tyre going flat.
- Quality Tyre – When you need to replace tyres always go for a well known manufacturers. These tyres may be more expensive at the outset but you may find that the compounds used in the construction of budget tyres means the the budget tyres wear away quicker leading to a high risk of their thread being compromised.
- Keep tyres inflated – Check the tyre pressure on a regular basis to ensure they are inflated to the correct level. Always check when the tyres are cold so you may have to wait a few hours if you have been driving the car. Don’t just rely on a visual inspection since tyres have usually lost a fair amount of air before they look visibly flat.
- Avoid Hazards – This step might seem obvious but its an easy one to follow. If your aware of any construction sites or areas then try to avoid them. When parking anywhere always keep an eye out for sharp objects.
- Uneven Tyre Wear – Check the thread of your tyres for any uneven wear on the thread. If you do notice uneven wear it could indicate that thread is thinner in certain areas so more susceptible to punctures.
- Check your brakes – You brakes can have an affect on the thread of your tyres. If brakes have not been serviced or have been set incorrectly they can lead to tyre wearing away quicker and unevenly. If your not to sure then get them checked by a qualified mechanic.
- Check load – Tyre’s have a maximum permitted load, if the load in your car goes above this due to too many people sitting in the car or your carrying heavy items then the tyres can get increased wear. So check what load your tyre can handle before overloading the car.