Getting a flat tire is frustrating on its own, let alone when you don’t have any spares handy and there isn’t a garage anywhere in sight.
In a predicament like this, you should be aware of the limits of your situation, which is why we’ve prepared this handy guide for when you have to let your car sit on a flat tire.
How Long Can A Car Sit On Flat Tire?
Your car can sit on a flat tire for a maximum of 24 hours. As time goes by, the risk of having to replace the whole wheel increases steadily because all the pressure is exerted on the rims, while the tire is squished further. You need to repair the tire immediately or support the rim with a jack to avoid further damage.
Keep on reading to learn more on all issues related to flat tires, including your chances of getting one, how to address them, how much they cost to replace, and more!
How Do You Tell If Tire Is Flat Or Just Needs Air?
A flat tire will form almost instantaneously and is usually the result of damage from contact with sharp objects that rip into the rubber.
A characteristic pop sound is often heard when this contact is made, and it helps in determining the presence of a flat tire.
A deflated tire, on the other hand, is one that loses air pressure gradually through the air valve or casing thread.
Unlike a flat tire, it occurs even when the vehicle is stationary and takes a longer time to notice.
What Happens If You Drive On A Flat Tire For Too Long?
Driving on a flat tire is not only unsafe for your vehicle’s handling, but it may also cause structural damage to the wheel, alignment, brakes, and even other components such as your suspension and steering system.
While it may be tempting to “limp” your car to the next repair shop, doing so will most certainly result in you paying for much more than just the tire.
So, if you can’t drive with a flat tire, what is your other option?
Start by carefully pulling over to the side of the road so you can properly handle the situation before repairing the flat with your spare tire or patching any punctures using an emergency sealant.
It’s worth mentioning that emergency sealants usually only work on punctures of ¼ inches or less. If your tire is torn, blown out, or has a major puncture, it will be useless.
If you lack either a spare tire and a sealant that does not work, it is time to call the nearest tire technician.
How Can You Tell If A Tire Is Slow Leaking?
Slow tire leaks are exactly as they sound: tiny cracks in a tire that cause it to lose air slowly over time. You’ll need to pay close attention to your tires to spot any slow leak.
It is possible you have a slow leak if you notice frequent flats after replacing one or more of your tires or low tire pressure after parking your car for a long time.
You could do a basic inspection at home if you suspect a tire has a slow leak. Use water to check for any leaks.
Carry out this test after your car has been stationary for at least 30 minutes. Then wet down the tire with a hose or a container of water.
You should observe bubbles breaking through the water where the air is escaping if there is a leak, but this method does not work for all slow leaks.
If you come across the signs of a slow leak as explained above, have your tires examined by a professional, even if you don’t detect air bubbles during the water test.
Can I Drive On A Tire With A Slow Leak?
Driving with a slow leak in your tire might be risky since it can lead to a flat tire and pose a greater risk of a blowout.
If you find that a tire isn’t retaining air as well as it should, or if you have to continually pump air into it, it might have a slow leak, and you should try to refrain from driving on it as soon as possible.
It is advisable to have a professional examine the tire so that they can diagnose the problem and repair the issue immediately.
How Much Does It Cost To Fix A Flat Tire?
A standard DIY tire repair kit with tools and plugs to fill the puncture can cost $5-$20, while a bigger DIY kit with a sealant and a pump or compressor to re-inflate the tire can cost between $20 and $50.
A DIY kit is usually meant to make a temporary fix on the exterior of the tire to get the car back on the road until the tire is properly fixed (with an inside patch) or replaced.
If the damage is too extensive or situated in a region of the tire that can’t be properly fixed, a single new tire for a passenger car costs between $50 and $200 and $60-$350 for a regular tire on a pickup or SUV, and $110-$750 for an all-terrain tire on a pickup or SUV.
Matching tires are ideal for modern suspension systems; if only one is changed, the replacement must be an identical match for the other three tires.
Tires are frequently replaced in pairs, but many experts advise replacing all four at the same time.
What Are The Odds Of Getting A Flat Tire?
Apart from mechanical failures, tire-related issues like flats account for 27% of all roadside emergencies.
Every second, roughly 7 tire punctures occur in the United States, resulting in 220 million flat tires every year.
Statistically, every driver will encounter up to 5 flat tires throughout their lifetime.
To know more about flat tires, you can also see our posts on whether or not you can replace run-flat tires with regular tires, how common are flat tires, if you can drive on a flat tire, and how long do run-flat tires last.
Your car shouldn’t sit on a flat tire for more than 24 hours because any longer means damage to the rest of the wheel.
Driving on a flat tire could result in damage to internal components such as the transmission and braking system.
A flat tire occurs when the tire is punctured, and is often signaled by a pop sound, whereas a deflated tire is the result of the tire slowly losing pressure over time without a puncture.
You should always check your tires for slow leaks and if you detect them, get them fixed as soon as possible to avoid blowouts while driving.
All drivers are statistically highly prone to getting a flat tire at one point or another, so it’s best to be prepared for that eventuality with a reliable towing service or skills and a good spare tire.