One of your tires has just blown and as if that weren't enough, you suddenly realize that there is no safe place around to park and change it? Do not panic ! It is often possible to continue driving for a few hundred meters, even with tires in poor condition. While it is generally not recommended to drive with a flat tire as it may permanently damage the rims, there are certain situations that leave no other choice. When a flat ride is necessary, you should strive to go slowly, favoring smooth and level roads, but also getting to a safe place as quickly as possible.
Part 1 of 2: ride with a flat tire
Step 1. Drive slowly
Take care not to drive faster than 20-30 km / h with a punctured wheel, otherwise you will cause irreparable damage to the metal rim under the tread, but you may also lose control of the vehicle. Do not apply too much throttle or, if possible, idle to a place where it is safe to park.
- Riding fast will only damage the rim faster, as at high speeds it is subjected to greater forces without the tread to protect it from bumps and debris.
- If you're going downhill, let gravity do the work by keeping your foot on the brake pedal.
Step 2. Stay on a smooth, level road
Avoid potholes, steep slopes and holes in the asphalt. A road in bad condition can damage the rims, warp them and cause a lack of parallelism. Also avoid wet or sandy terrain which may cause the car to slide or get stuck.
Choose paved roads, parking lots, the shoulder or the highway
Step 3. Drive as straight as possible
Avoid sharp turns or winding avenues. Just drive slowly and in a straight line and only turn the steering wheel slightly when you have a chance to park. Choose the straightest route possible to get to your destination.
- Keep the steering wheel stationary to counter the resistance created by the flat tire, but without exerting too much force so as not to affect your ability to maneuver.
- Each time you turn, you put more pressure on the edges of the rim.
Step 4. Park in a safe place
As soon as you get the chance, pull off the main road and head to the first spot where the traffic is less intense. Make sure the car has come to a complete stop, then apply the handbrake and turn on your emergency turn signals to signal other motorists that you have a problem.
- Park on a level spot in case you need to jack up the car.
- Do not get out of your vehicle until there is less traffic on the driver's side.
Step 5. Don't ride too far
You should never attempt to go more than a few hundred meters flat, even if the tire is not completely deflated. This should be enough to get to a garage, but you can force it a bit if it gets you out of the traffic. Remember you should drive slowly and park as soon as possible.
- You can change a tire virtually anywhere in no time. You do not have to look for a dedicated parking area for your car.
- Make sure you are safe first before you worry about any repairs.
Part 2 of 2: treat the puncture
Step 1. Try to get to a gas station
If there's a gas station nearby and you've been lucky enough to avoid a total flat tire, it's safe to get there and re-inflate your tire. Service stations usually have equipment to do basic auto repairs, such as flat tire repair kits. That means there is no better place to go in the event of a flat tire.
- Do not force the car too much. If the nearest petrol station is more than 750 m away, you should rather park in a safe place nearby.
- At some service stations, pump attendants are able to help distraught motorists change their flat tire.
Step 2. Keep a spare tire in the car
Most recent vehicles are fitted with a spare wheel, either at the rear or in a separate compartment in the trunk. If this is the case for your car, you can thank your lucky star! You will only have to replace the flat tire with the spare tire and you can drive to a garage to finish the repairs.
- If you don't know how to change a wheel, check your car owner's manual for the different steps in the process.
- Spare tires (also known as “donuts”) are designed to hold up to 80 km at a maximum speed of 90 km / h.
Step 3. Call a tow truck
If you couldn't get to a garage, or if you don't know how to change your tire yourself, you will have no choice but to contact a tow truck. A breakdown service will be dispatched to tow your vehicle to the nearest repair center so that you can resolve the problem as soon as possible. In some cases, the troubleshooter can even perform the repairs on the spot.
- Signing up for a roadside assistance service like Mopar can be a big help if you ever break down in the middle of nowhere.
- In general, tow truck wait times vary from 45 minutes to 1 hour, which is reasonable considering that it will probably take you longer to change the tire yourself.
- Keep your phone charged while on the road in case you need to make an emergency call.
Step 4. Purchase run-flat tires
Runflat tires are specially designed to run safely even when they are completely deflated. Their reinforced sides act as a cushion that allows the vehicle to continue on its way to a safe place. Whether you have no experience with tire replacement or just don't want to do it yourself, run-flat tires can be of great help in the event of a puncture.
Some run-flat tires allow you to travel more than 160 km at reduced speed
- Always be on the lookout for objects or obstacles that could potentially cause a flat tire.
- If your car does not yet have a spare tire, consider purchasing one and find a place to store it.
- Emergency turn signals and reflectors will help you stay visible to other drivers if you ever need to park in the dark.
- In general, small holes (caused by the tire running over objects like nails or screws) can be repaired at auto repair centers. This will save you from having to buy a new tire.
- Follow the same guidelines if you have more than one flat tire, but be extra careful when going down a slope, making a turn, or stopping.
- Excessively inflating a tire can cause it to explode without warning.
- If you end up accidentally damaging your rims, you will have no choice but to replace the wheel entirely.