Flat Tire? Now What?

Woman changing tireTips for staying safe and reducing the stress of a flat tire.

A flat tire out on the roadway is a potentially dangerous situation. When the flat occurs, a vehicle is much harder to control. If you don’t stop far enough from the roadway, you become a hazard for other drivers and yourself. Here are some tips to help you be prepared and help you safely manage the situation.

The first tip is to be proactive and avoid flat tires in the first place. Keep tires properly inflated, and check for wear and tear. Have your tires rotated and balanced at the recommended times and replace them when they become old or worn out. Know the proper inflation of your tires, and learn to look for abnormalities in the appearance of the tires. Buy a tire pressure gauge and periodically check the pressure of your tires, including your spare. You can find out the proper inflation level of your tires a few different ways. The tires themselves may have a proper inflation rating. Do not confuse this with the maximum PSI, which should not be used. When you replace your tires, ask the tire dealer to write the proper inflation level on the paperwork. Your car will also have a sticker that states the recommended pressure. Keep in mind that this pressure is for a particular size tire, so if you have changed tire sizes, your pressure may be different.

Did You Know?

Your spare tire needs to be checked periodically for safety. See our tire guide for tips on how to inspect your tire. And, whenever you have the car serviced, be sure they check the tire pressure of your spare.

Next, create a plan for what you will do if you experience a flat tire. Do you have a roadside assistance plan? If so, be sure to understand the limitations of having to call for assistance. If you are in town, help may be close by, but if you are out on the highway or in a remote location, you may wait quite a while for someone to reach you. Be sure to have the right supplies in your car to tide you over if you have to wait. If you are traveling with children or pets, be sure to have adequate food and water for the wait.

When roadside assistance does reach you, a tow may be required if you don’t have a spare tire. If you have a spare tire, but don’t have a jack or lug wrench, the roadside assistance should be able to use their own equipment. When you make that call for assistance, be sure to tell them exactly what you need so they are properly equipped.

If you do have a spare tire, jack and lug wrench, and are comfortable with changing the tire, it can be the fastest way to get back on the road.

Flat tires are no fun, but they can happen to anyone. Being prepared for them is the best way to reduce stress and stay safe on the road.

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