What Happens When You Drive on a Flat Tire?

Last Updated on February 3, 2023 by Jess

A flat tire is pretty much every RV owner’s worst nightmare. Not only do they cause tremendous damage to your precious RV, but they also create a dangerous situation.

You’ll be lucky if you’ve never experienced this. However, a flat tire can turn into the worst in the blink of an eye.

Today, you’ll learn what happens when you drive with a flat tire, and we’ll give you some tips on how to avoid it. Let’s get started!

Is driving with a flat tire dangerous?

When it comes to terrible ideas that motorists can have, driving with a flat tire is at the top of the list. Drivers need stability and control when it comes to their tires.

However, a flat tire offers neither. Driving with a flat tire is extremely dangerous and should be avoided at all costs.

While a flat tire never comes at the right time, you can make the situation much worse if you continue to drive with a flat tire. That puts you and other drivers at risk. That’s a risk we don’t think is worth taking.

What happens if you drive with a flat tire?

When you drive with a flat tire, there is a tremendous amount of friction between the tires and the road surface. The faster and longer you drive with the tire, the more heat is generated by the friction. This causes the tire’s rubber compound to disintegrate and fall apart as you drive.

Not only is the tire hard to control, but it flies around as it spins on the wheel. This can damage your vehicle’s wheel well and cause severe damage.

If the metal rim comes in contact with the road while you’re driving, the damage is likely to be so severe that you’ll need to replace more than just the tire. A new rim is not cheap, especially if the rims on your vehicle are hard to find.

Should you drive even 1 mile with a flat tire?

Driving any distance with a flat tire is generally not a good idea. However, there are instances when you need to travel a short distance to get to safety or get help. But it is better to drive with a deflated tire than with a flat tire.

If your tire is simply low on air or starting to leak, you may be able to ride it for another mile or two. However, if your tire is flat, you should avoid driving on it if possible.

Can you inflate a flat tire?

Whether you can inflate a flat tire depends on the cause of the puncture. If you have a small hole through which the air slowly escapes, you can inflate the tire to temporarily repair it.

Depending on how quickly the air is escaping from the tire, you can take the tire to the tire shop to have it repaired by inflating it.

Unfortunately, not every flat tire is the result of a slow leak. You could drive over an object on the road that causes cracks or cuts. In such cases, the air escapes from the tire as fast as you can pump it in. These tires are then pretty much useless, and you’d better put a spare tire on your vehicle.

Prevention of flat tires and tire blowouts

There are a handful of things you can do to prevent flat tires and tire blowouts. Let’s take a look at some things motorists can do to avoid having flat or damaged tires.

Invest in a high-quality TPMS

If you don’t have a high-quality tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS), you need to get one.

We’ve been using a TireMinder TPMS since the day we first hit the road, and we wouldn’t drive without it. With a quality TPMS, a driver can monitor the pressure and temperature of their tires.

If a tire fails or conditions become unsafe for driving, the TPMS will sound an alarm. The driver can then find a safe place to stop to check and fix the problems instead of driving with a flat tire. In the event of a flat tire, you will be alerted as soon as possible to minimize the damage.

Note the maximum load capacity

One mistake many drivers make is overloading their vehicles. Tires can only carry a certain amount of weight, and loading them beyond their load limit increases the risk of tire damage.

The maximum load rating is listed on a tire’s sidewall, along with other helpful information. However, it’s not as easy to figure out how much weight you’re loading on the tires.

The best way to determine if you are loading your tires beyond their load limit is to weigh your vehicle.

You can do this by driving over a CAT scale, which you can often find at many truck stops. Weighing your vehicle can cost about $12, but is money well spent if it helps you ensure that you stay within the load limits of your tires.

Change your tires regularly

Tires wear out over time as you drive them. If you want your tires to last as long as possible and avoid a blowout, you need to change them regularly.

Typically, you should rotate your tires every 5,000 miles, so it’s a good idea to rotate them every time you change your oil.

If you don’t change your tires regularly, they will wear unevenly. You may have to replace two of your tires prematurely. If you’ve ever bought tires before, you know they aren’t cheap, and you want to live off them as long as possible.

Driving defensively

To avoid a flat tire, you must learn to be an excellent defensive driver. Being a defensive driver means being constantly aware of what is going on around you.

This can be a necessary skill for drivers to develop in order to avoid objects in the middle of the road. You never know what might fall off another vehicle and land in your own lane.

Being able to make good decisions quickly while driving can mean the difference between going to the tire shop and not.

No matter how well and defensively you drive, you can’t always avoid some objects. However, good defensive driving can minimize the risk of a flat tire due to a collision with an object on the road. If you can’t always avoid them, you should at least minimize the experience.

Pro Tip: A good set of RV tires can completely change the way your RV handles on the road! Before you buy your tires, read our RV tire buying guide

What do you do if you have a flat tire?

If you are unlucky enough to have a flat tire, it all depends on how you handle the situation.

Depending on how you react, you can make the situation better or worse. So let’s explore what to do if you have a flat tire while driving.

Stop quickly but safely

If the low tire pressure light comes on your dashboard or you hear the tire blow out, you need to stop as soon as possible.

However, you still need to check if you can change lanes and maneuver. Failure to do so may result in a serious accident or a honking concert from your fellow drivers.

If you are on a highway, find a safe place on the shoulder of the road. You should keep as much distance as possible from passing vehicles, especially if the flat tire is on the driver’s side. If you are in the city or in a more densely populated area, find the nearest parking lot where you can pull over so you are away from the road and traffic.

Put up emergency cones or lights

You want to alert motorists that you are in an emergency situation so they have time to swerve and clear the way.

If you have traffic cones or other lights, this is a good time to use them. If not, you can at least turn on your vehicle’s hazard lights.

These situations are a good example of why we recommend carrying a roadside emergency kit in your vehicle. These kits often contain traffic cones, lights, and other necessary equipment to get you to safety no matter why you’re stuck on the side of the road.

A woman pulled over to the side of the road to change her flat tire

Replace the tire with your spare (if you are comfortable with it)

If you don’t mind replacing the flat tire with your spare, now is the time to do it. However, make sure there is enough room between you and passing vehicles. You don’t want to back up or get run over by a passing motorist.

You will need the proper equipment and knowledge to replace a tire. This can be a physically demanding task that not everyone should perform. If you don’t do it right, you can put yourself, your vehicle and others in a dangerous situation.

However, if you have the right tools and know what you are doing, you and your vehicle can be back on the road in 10 or 15 minutes.

Call roadside assistance

If you are uncomfortable changing your tire or do not have the proper equipment, you must call roadside assistance.

Unfortunately, roadside assistance response times can vary greatly depending on your location and where you need help. You can wait anywhere from 20 minutes to a couple of hours for help.

Remember: Is Coachnet really the “best roadside assistance for RVs”? Let’s find out!

Close up of a flat tire

Wait in your vehicle, not on the side of the road

If you find yourself on the side of the road with a flat tire, it is safest for you and the other occupants of your vehicle to wait inside your vehicle. The side of the road can be extremely dangerous, especially if passing drivers are not paying attention.

If your vehicle is hit, you have a better chance inside than on the side of the road.

Create a safety plan for the next time you have a flat tire

The more you can plan, the better prepared you’ll be when you have a flat tire. Having a plan for how you should respond can help reduce the anxiety and stress that comes with these tense situations.

Make sure you have the phone numbers for roadside assistance quickly at hand. Know what tools and equipment you have on hand. If you want to be able to change a tire, make sure you always have the proper tools for the job.

If you do it right, you’ll be back on the road in no time and ready to tackle your next adventure.

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