Close-up of a flat tire on a gravel road

What are the effects of driving on a flat tire?

Dangers of Driving with an Underinflated Tire

If your tire goes flat, it can be tempting to keep driving on it long enough to at least get to the repair shop. After all, how bad could it be? What are the effects of driving on a flat tire?

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Unfortunately, driving with a flat tire will almost certainly result in undesired effects. Not only will the tire suffer debilitating internal structural damage, but it could lead to wheel and vehicle damage. The flat will also likely result in poor handling and limited ability to control the vehicle. This is, of course, dangerous, and can lead to accident, injury or death.

Is it okay to drive a short distance on a flat tire?

Even driving a short distance on an underinflated tire can cause the tire to be damaged beyond repair. Think of it like running a vehicle’s engine without enough oil or coolant inside; it may seem to be working for a brief time, but unfortunately, serious permanent damage has occurred. Just like adding more oil or coolant to your engine won’t fix it, adding more inflation pressure to the tire won’t bring it back.

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A mechanic works to remove a tire from a raised wheel

Why is it bad to drive on a flat tire?

Aside from the reasons noted above, driving on a flat tire can simply turn what may be a minor (and relatively cheap) tire puncturing issue into expensive, extensive vehicular damage. A puncture of up to ¼” in diameter in a tire’s tread area can simply be repaired with a tire plug for a cost of $30.

However, if a tire is driven on after that initial deflation, more damage, such as ruptured sidewalls and expanded puncture, will likely occur. Repair of these elements are not legal, so if they occur, one will have to buy a new tire.

What parts of a car can be damaged by driving on a flat tire?

Various parts of the car can be damaged by driving on a flat. These include the:

  • Brake lines
  • Rotors
  • Calipers
  • Suspension components
  • Wheels
  • Fenders

All of the elements above can be seriously damaged from driving on a flat. Rather than paying $30 to patch a tire, one will likely end up spending thousands on costlier repairs. Furthermore, if any of the braking or suspension components get damaged, the vehicle is likely dangerous to drive.