Understanding Your Options For Dealing With A Tire Emergency

Posted on: 29 October 2019

Few things can bring a road trip to screeching halt quite as suddenly as tire problems. If you're lucky, you might notice your low tire pressure before it becomes an emergency. If you're less fortunate, your first warning might be the sudden loss of control as a tire blows out or shreds. While suffering a problem with one of your tires can be terrifying, it can quickly turn into a frustrating hassle once you are safely on the side of the road. Depending on the severity of the problem, you may have several options for getting your vehicle repaired and back on its way.

Safely Assess the Damage

If possible, always try to move your vehicle to a safe location before getting out of the car to check for damage. If you are traveling on surface streets, then try to pull over into a parking lot or other location that can effectively shield you from traffic. Never get out of your car if you are forced to stop on the side of the highway. If it is too dangerous to leave your vehicle, call for a tow and wait for assistance before attempting to deal with your tire.

Once out of your car, check your tire for damage. If the tire appears to be flat and you have not been driving on it for long, then it may still be salvageable. Look closely for signs of severe damage or punctures, paying close attention to the sidewall. Note that catastrophic tire damage is not always visible. Tires can sometimes strip their tread on the inside edge, and damage of this type is often not readily noticeable until the car is on a lift. Avoid reaching blindly behind your tire, as there may be sharp, exposed metal.

Know Your Options

If your tire has blown out or lost tread, then repairs will not be possible. Replacing the affected tire alone can be a quick way to get your vehicle back on the road, but it should not be treated as a permanent option. Tires should always be replaced in pairs, so plan on also replacing the other tire on the same axle as soon as possible. Likewise, damage to the sidewall or too close to the edge of the tread is not repairable. This part of the tire helps to maintain its structure and shape, so repairs are ineffective and potentially dangerous.

If your tire has suffered a puncture on its tread, however, then it is likely that you can have the damage patched. Depending on the severity of the damage, a tire shop can apply either a plug to the outside of the tire or a patch to the inside. Some shops will perform both types of repairs if they believe that doing so will more effectively fix the damage. Correctly performed tire repairs can last for the life of the tire, so this is an excellent option if the damage is not too severe.

Remember that driving on a tire that is losing air pressure is never safe. If you discover a problem with one or more of your tires, always have it assessed by a professional tire repair shop so that it can be replaced or repaired.