Every week drivers have to deal with a flat tire. According to AAA, approximately one-third of all roadside emergencies are tire related. If this is you one day, do you know how to handle the situation?
First off, do you know how to tell if your tire is flat?
Well, if it is there is usually some sort of bumping of thumping, soon followed by a noticeable change in steering and handling. Once the air leaves the tire, the only thing between the road and the wheel rim in a thin piece of rubber. There is no doubt you will feel the difference, especially if it is one of the front tires that is flat. You might also hear a flapping noise or notice the steering wheel pulling hard to one side.
When you realize that you have a flat tire, do not panic. Simply put on your emergency flashers, gradually slow down, and try to get off the road safely. If you are not close to a parking lot, pull off onto the right shoulder as far as possible. In certain freeway situations, the left shoulder can be used – for example, if there is a safe median area in the center of a divided highway.
Do not go too far on your flat tire. Most experts don’t recommend driving on a flat tire for very long.
Should you try fixing the flat tire yourself?
If you are safely parked away from traffic and are confident in your wrenching skills, go ahead with the DIY approach. If you feel confident and/or you must change it yourself make sure to follow the instructions in your owner’s manual.
Keep in mind that many newer vehicles don’t even have spare tires. AAA says that nearly 30% of the cars and trucks produced for the 2017 model year rely on alternatives such as run-flat tires or inflator kits, but neither one of these will help you if you have more than a small hole in your tire establishment.
Not sure who to call if this happens to you?
In a situation like this your cell phone is one of the best tools you can have. You can use it to easily search for a place to help.
You want to turn to your automaker’s or insurance company’s roadside assistance program. These programs work by contacting a nearby service center, who will send out a tow truck and mechanic to change the tire for you.
Remember that the assistance program that came with your vehicle typically expires after a set time or mileage level, so be aware of your current mileage. If you do not have a roadside assistance program, it may be worth looking into one in case of situations like this.
Otherwise, if you belong to AAA, you can contact them. Needless to say, having these numbers ahead of time – and stored in the vehicle as part of a proper emergency car kit – can make your life a lot easier.
Some people don’t know this, but many state highway departments have courtesy patrols that stop and help with a flat tire. Don’t be afraid to call 911 if you are stranded on the side of the highway and you feel you are in danger.