If you’ve ever suffered a flat tyre in the middle of a long or important journey, the first question that comes to mind is usually not how to get it fixed, but “can I drive on a flat tyre?”
The answer depends on a few different things, including where the puncture takes place – both your location and the position of the tyre puncture – and the road you are driving down at the time.
But the short answer to “can you drive on a flat tyre?” is that, where possible, you should pull over and get it changed as soon as possible, to make sure your vehicle is safe to continue for the rest of your drive.
How far can you drive on a flat tyre?
If you have no choice but to drive on a flat tyre, try to minimise the distance you drive on it for, especially if the tyre is completely flat. Remember that the Highway Code always requires your tyres to be inflated to the correct pressure – so a flat tyre means your vehicle is no longer roadworthy. In a remote location with no mobile phone signal, it could be necessary to drive on a flat tyre in order to reach safety, but again you should only go as far as you absolutely need to. Driving on a flat tyre may lead to internal structural damage, or worse, an accident.
How long can you drive on a flat tyre?
Driving on a flat tyre is not just unsafe, it can also cause damage to the wheel the longer you drive on it for. If the tyre is still fully on the rim of the wheel, it will provide some cushioning over a short distance, but you run the risk of the rubber starting to break off. This exposes the metal of the wheel and can cause more extensive – and expensive – damage to the wheel and to the suspension of your car.
How far can you drive on a run flat tyre?
Run flat tyres are specially designed to keep their shape and structure even if they are punctured, thanks to a strong supporting frame inside the tyre. This means you can continue to drive safely on the tyre for a short – but potentially very useful – distance, to reach a place of safety.
Because of the heat and friction the tyre is exposed to, manufacturers will usually state a maximum safe speed for run flat tyres, as well as a maximum range. For example, on Bridgestone Driveguard run flat tyres this is usually 50 miles at no more than 50 mph.
It’s important to stick to these limits – they should allow you to get to a sensible and safe place to pull over and await repair or recovery, without putting you or your vehicle at risk. If there’s enough space for our mobile puncture repair technicians to work their magic, we’ll come to you. Visit our puncture repairs page to find out more.
Can you drive with a punctured tyre?
A punctured tyre is not necessarily the same thing as a flat tyre. Whereas a flat tyre has lost most or all its air, a puncture can often be a slow release of air from inside the tyre.
When you have a slow puncture, it can be possible to pump up the tyre before setting off and drive quite far before the pressure drops to an unsafe level. However, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t repair or replace the tyre, as a slow puncture is a sure sign of a weakness somewhere in the tyre’s structure.
You should look for evidence of this, such as puncture holes in the tread or cracks and bulges on the side wall. If you have used a pre-puncture sealant, and you have a puncture, you should see signs of the activated sealant (usually white latex-based) on the outside of the tyre.
Driving at high speed over long distances can again put stress on the tyre – and could lead to a puncture becoming a high-speed blowout if you don’t get it repaired promptly.
Can you drive with a nail in your tyre?
Many drivers know that sinking feeling of seeing a shiny metal dot embedded in their tyre tread; the head of a screw or nail that has been driven over.
The first question in this case should not be “can I drive with a nail in my tyre?” but first, to check whether the nail has pierced the tyre or not. A short screw or tack can easily get wedged in the deep tread of a new tyre without damaging it – so take a close look, as you might be lucky.
If there is evidence that the nail has gone right through, then again you should get the tyre repaired or replaced as soon as possible. There are examples of people driving for many miles before noticing nails in their tyres. New tyres will usually cope better with this, but it’s smart to be vigilant and give your vehicle a quick check before setting off on a long-distance drive.
Do you have a puncture or flat tyre? Call 0333 016 6550 and one of our puncture repair technicians will get you back on the road as quickly as possible.