Got a flat tire on your way to an important meeting? Have no fear: acting fast will get you back on the road in no time.
Check and adjust the pressure regularly
Even a properly installed, good tire will lose air pressure over time, and cooler temperatures will cause a drop in tire pressure. Filling tires to the proper pressure will keep you safe and save you money — consider that a tire’s lifespan may be shortened by as much as 75 per cent if it’s inflated to only 80 per cent of the optimum pressure.
- Know the correct pressure for your tires; you’ll find this information in your owner’s manual, printed on the inside ledge of the driver’s door or within the gas cap.
- Measure the pressure of each tire at least once every two weeks using an accurate pressure gauge — most gas stations have combined gauges and air pumps. Your tires should be as cool as possible when you carry out the measurement, so avoid driving more than a minute to two to the gas station because friction will cause them to heat up. Don’t forget to check the spare tire (if you have one).
Warning: Always replace your valve caps after you fill your tires. They play an important role in excluding water and debris, both of which could cause the valve to fail or stick.
Deal with a puncture on the road
A puncture needn’t mean a new tire — you may be able to get a repair for a fraction of the cost of a replacement. Tires can be repaired as long as the puncture is in the main area of the tire’s tread, and you haven’t driven for long on the flat or part-deflated tire.
- If you suffer a puncture while driving, you may notice a flapping sound or your car pulling to the left or right. Pull over as soon as it is safe onto a firm, flat surface — don’t be tempted to push on to your destination because you’re likely to ruin the tire and damage your wheels.
- If your car has a spare wheel, you may want to call for roadside assistance or opt to change it yourself. If you change it yourself, you must follow the instructions in your car owner’s manual.
- Many modern cars don’t come with a spare tire, but are equipped with a can of sealant that you inject through the tire valve. You then use a cylinder of compressed gas to reinflate the tire. This isn’t a permanent repair — have the wheel inspected at a reputable tire centre.
Get a repair as soon as possible
- A screw or nail may get lodged in your tire without deflating it. Don’t ignore the problem — the nail can move around while you’re driving and cause a catastrophic blowout.
- Instead, drive as slowly as is safe to your local tire centre and have them remove the nail. If the tire is sound, you’ll have lost little; if there’s a rush of air from the tire, you’re in the best place for a speedy repair.