How Long Can You Drive On a Flat Tire? Let’s Find Out

How Long Can You Drive On a Flat Tire – Flat tires are the nemesis of every driver, prompting immediate concern and a rush of inconvenient scenarios, especially if there’s no spare tire available. The question arises: how far can you push a car on a flat tire?

The straightforward answer is that driving on a completely flat tire is not advisable, period. Unless your vehicle is equipped with run-flat tires, attempting to drive on a flat tire can lead to irreversible damage and pose serious safety risks.

How Long Can You Drive On a Flat Tire

Picture this: you’re on the road and suddenly, a tire gives in. The ideal action? Stop the car as soon as it’s safe to do so and replace the flat tire with a spare one. If you find yourself without a spare, roadside assistance from a nearby tire shop becomes your best ally.

Let’s delve into this predicament and understand the risks involved in driving with a flat tire, alongside viable solutions.

How Long Can You Drive on a Spare Tire?

If you find yourself with a flat tire and have a spare, you can typically drive for about 50 miles before needing to replace it.

How Long Can You Drive On a Flat Tire

Most spare tires, like donuts, are designed for short drives to find the nearest repair services.

However, in case of an emergency, many drivers stretch it to even 70 miles if they can’t find a repair shop nearby. This can be a temporary solution to help you reach your destination and choose to fix the puncture later.

To know the exact number of miles you can drive on your spare, it’s best to check your car owner’s manual.

But what about driving on a flat tire? While it’s not recommended, sometimes it may be necessary to get you and your vehicle away from busy, speeding traffic. In such situations, it’s important to minimize the amount of time spent driving on a flat tire.

What Causes Flat Tires?

What Causes Flat Tires

Flat tires can occur for various reasons, including punctures from foreign objects like industrial screws and glass, slow leaks, and road hazards such as potholes and uneven roads.

These causes may not always be within your control, it’s important to stay ahead of general tire wear to minimize the risk of a flat tire.

To prevent flat tires, pay attention to tire pressure and tread depth. Regularly check your tire pressure and ensure it is within the recommended range. Driving on a flat tire can result in traction loss, increasing the chances of a severe road accident.

What Happens If You Drive On A Flat Tire?

Driving on a flat tire might seem like a viable short-term solution, but the repercussions can be severe, causing both immediate and long-term damage to your vehicle.

Understanding the implications of this action is crucial to prevent costly repairs and ensure road safety.

What Happens If You Drive On A Flat Tire

So, what happens if you drive on a flat tire?

1. Further Tire Damage

A flat tire doesn’t always necessitate immediate replacement; often, minor issues like low air pressure or small punctures can be repaired.

However, driving on deflated tires exacerbates the problem, increasing the risk of puncture expansion and causing irreparable damage to both the vehicle and the tire’s internal and external structure.

Hence, avoiding unnecessary driving on deflated tires is crucial to prevent further deterioration.

2. Bent or Warped Rims

Driving on a flat tire places excessive weight on the rim edges, which aren’t designed to make contact with the road. Consequently, the rims can become bent, warped, or sustain permanent damage.

What could have initially required a simple tire repair might escalate into costlier repairs, including the need for new rims due to the added stress and strain on these components.

3. General Damage to Your Vehicle

Continuing to drive on a deteriorating flat tire can lead to additional harm to various crucial components of your vehicle. Essential parts such as brake lines, rotors, suspension elements, and fenders might suffer damage.

This not only escalates repair costs but also heightens safety concerns for you, your passengers, and other drivers on the road.

4. Overall Safety Hazards

Tires serve multiple vital functions beyond merely keeping the vehicle rolling. They support the car’s weight, provide traction, and assist in steering, turning, and stopping. When you drive on a flat tire, these essential functions are compromised, significantly affecting your ability to control the vehicle.

This poses serious safety hazards by impairing steering capabilities and overall control on the road.

Immediate repair or replacement is necessary to mitigate the risk of compromising safety and incurring extensive vehicle damage.

How Can I Prevent a Flat Tire?

How Can I Prevent a Flat Tire

Preventing a flat tire is always better than dealing with the consequences of one. You may not be able to completely avoid a flat tire, but there are steps you can take to minimize the risk.

Regularly checking your tire pressure is crucial, as underinflated tires are more susceptible to damage.

Avoid overloading your vehicle, as excessive weight can put extra strain on your tires.

By following these simple practices, you can significantly reduce the chances of getting a flat tire and keep yourself safe on the road.

How To Replace a Flat Tire?

Knowing how to replace a flat tire is a fundamental skill that every driver should possess. The following steps will guide you through the process smoothly and efficiently.

Step-by-Step Guide on How to Replace a Flat Tire:

  1. How to Replace a Flat Tire: Start by ensuring your safety and that of others on the road. Park your vehicle on the safe side of the road, away from traffic, and use hazard lights or warning triangles to alert other drivers.
  2. Gather the Necessary Tools: Be prepared with the essential tools: a spare tire, a lug wrench, and a jack. These tools usually come with your vehicle’s spare tire kit or can be found in the trunk.
  3. Loosen the Lug Nuts: Before jacking up the vehicle, slightly loosen the lug nuts on the flat tire. This step makes it easier to remove the nuts once the tire is off the ground.
  4. Jack It Up: Place the jack beneath the car according to the manufacturer’s guidelines, usually near the flat tire. Slowly raise the vehicle until the flat tire is off the ground, ensuring the car is stable and secure.
  5. Remove the Flat Tire and Replace It: Completely remove the loosened lug nuts and take off the flat tire. Carefully place the spare tire onto the wheelbase, aligning the lug nut posts with the holes in the tire.
  6. Slowly Lower Your Vehicle and Remove the Jack: Lower the vehicle gradually until the spare tire touches the ground, but the full weight of the vehicle isn’t yet on it. Tighten the lug nuts in a star pattern to secure the spare tire in place. Once properly secured, lower the car completely and remove the jack.

Remember, after replacing the flat tire, it’s crucial to check the tire pressure to ensure it’s at the recommended level.

Mastering the art of changing a flat tire empowers drivers with the ability to handle unexpected roadside emergencies swiftly and safely.

What Is the Best Solution for a Flat Tire?

We all know that driving long distances or in remote areas without access to repair shops can be quite common. In these situations, having a spare tire can be a real lifesaver.

Not only is it recommended by many state traffic laws, but it also saves you the hassle of trying to find a tire shop in the midst of an emergency. And let’s not forget about the time it saves you as well.

Instead of driving slowly and cautiously with a flat tire, you can simply replace it with a spare and continue on your way without any worries.

So, is it safe to drive even just 1 mile on a flat tire? The answer is no. It’s not safe to drive any distance on a flat tire. The risks involved, such as traction loss and potential damage to your vehicle, far outweigh any convenience or urgency you may feel.

Why Don’t Experts Recommend Driving on a Flat Tire?

Driving on a flat tire is dangerous, and experts strongly advise against it for several reasons.

  • Traction loss is a significant risk when driving with a flat tire. This can result in severe road accidents and put your safety at serious risk.
  • Driving on a flat tire exposes your vehicle to more damage, which can be costly to repair. The tire rim, in particular, is the most vulnerable part if driven with a puncture or low air pressure.

If you find yourself in a situation where you must drive a short distance to reach a tire shop, it is recommended to maintain a speed of 50 mph or less and ensure better vehicle control.

However, it’s important to note that even driving at 5 mph can be very risky if you completely lose tire pressure or encounter roads with potholes.

How To Avoid Driving On A Flat Tire?

Adopting proactive measures to prevent a flat tire occurrence is the smartest approach. Knowing how to avoid driving on a flat tire involves incorporating regular maintenance and taking precautionary steps.

How To Avoid Driving On A Flat Tire

Here’s a comprehensive guide to minimize the chances of encountering a flat or blown-out tire.

How to Avoid Driving on a Flat Tire

1. Check Tire Pressure Monthly

Regularly checking tire pressure is the cornerstone of effective tire maintenance. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends a monthly inspection of tire pressure, including the spare. Utilize an inexpensive tire pressure gauge when tires are ‘cold,’ ensuring accurate readings.

Driving with underinflated tires not only impacts fuel efficiency but also increases vulnerability to wear and punctures.

Maintaining the manufacturer-recommended pressure, as indicated in your owner’s manual or driver-side door jamb, is crucial.

2. Inspect & Rotate Tires Regularly

Visual inspections and tire rotations every 5,000 to 10,000 miles contribute to even tire wear, extending their lifespan. Regularly check tires for tread wear and signs of damage, ensuring a minimum tread depth of 3/32 inches for safety.

Cracks, bulging sidewalls, or bubbles warrant immediate attention as they signify potential tire issues.

3. Don’t Surpass the Tire Load Limit

Respect the maximum load rating and pressure specified on the tire sidewall. Exceeding these limits places undue strain on tires, increasing the risk of a blowout. Be mindful of your vehicle’s weight and adjust tire pressure accordingly, but never surpass the maximum pressure indicated.

4. Watch for Road Hazards

Vigilance while driving is crucial to identifying and avoiding road hazards like potholes, debris, and sharp objects. These hazards, even if they don’t puncture the tire, can cause cuts, bulges, or critical tire damage, leading to flats or vibrations later on.

Consider alternative routes when driving through areas prone to road debris or damage to minimize the risk.

5. Equip Your Vehicle with Run-Flat Tires

While preventive measures help, flats can still occur unexpectedly. Run-flat tires, like Bridgestone DriveGuard tires, offer a reliable solution in such situations.

These tires boast self-supporting features, with reinforced sidewalls and advanced bead technology, allowing them to carry the vehicle’s weight for up to 50 miles and 50 MPH post-puncture*.

Installing run-flat tires provides peace of mind, ensuring you won’t be stranded in case of a flat tire emergency.

A proactive approach to tire maintenance and vigilance while driving can significantly reduce the likelihood of driving on a flat tire.

Can I drive 2 miles on a flat tire?

No, you should never attempt to drive any further than a couple hundred yards on a flat tire, even if it isn’t completely deflated. It might not be sufficient to reach an auto garage, but you can cautiously move a short distance to get away from the dangers of the highway.

Will driving on a flat tire ruin the rim?

Yes, driving on a flat tire can cause various issues like wheel misalignment, bent rims, or problems with the suspension system. These consequences are common and can lead to time-consuming and expensive repairs, imposing additional financial burdens and inconvenience on the driver.


Driving on a flat tire, the bottom line is that it is never safe. Whether it’s due to a puncture, slow leak, or simply not noticing the warning signs, driving on a flat tire can have serious consequences.

We discussed the importance of having a spare tire and the limited distance you can drive on it. It’s crucial to stop and change the tire as soon as possible or call for roadside assistance if needed. Driving on a flat tire can lead to traction loss, damage to the tire rim, and increased repair costs.

To prevent flat tires, regularly check tire pressure and tread depth, and avoid driving on tires beyond their useful life.

The impact of driving on a flat tire goes beyond the immediate inconvenience. It can result in wheel misalignment, bent rims, and potential damage to the suspension system, leading to extensive repairs that are both time-consuming and costly. It’s advised to avoid driving more than a few hundred yards, if possible, to a safer location off the road.

The answer to the question “Can you drive just one mile on a flat tire?” is a resounding no. It is never safe to drive any distance on a flat tire. Prioritize your safety and invest in a spare tire to be prepared for any unexpected flat tire situations.