6 Tips to Help Avoid a Flat Tire

A woman is changing a flat tire on her car at the side of the road.

A flat tire can quickly bring your travel plans to a standstill. It doesn’t matter if you’re commuting to the office or getting away for a much-deserved vacation, few people enjoy having to stop everything to deal with deflated rubber.

Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take to help reduce your risk…

Check your tire pressure monthly

Close-up of a hand holding a pressure gauge for a car tire.

This quick, easy task can not only reduce your risk of a tire puncture, but improperly inflated tires can also affect your fuel economy and safety. As the only point of contact between your vehicle and the pavement, tires play an important role in how it drives. According to Transport Canada, even tires that look fine can be underinflated by as much as 20%. Underinflated tires can increase your fuel consumption and reduces the life of the tire, which can end up costing you more money.

Open the driver’s side door (or your owner’s manual) and look for a label with the recommended tire pressure. Use a high-quality tire pressure gauge and check the pressure of your tires when they’re cold – when you haven’t driven for a few hours – as readings can be different on warm, recently driven tires. And don’t forget to check the spare tire!

Some vehicles have a tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS), which can show a warning light if there is an issue with your tire pressure. However, this tire pressure sensor may only activate when a tire is significantly under pressure, which can mean your tire is already in critical condition. It’s a good idea to get into the habit of checking your tires regularly.

Register your tires and monitor for recalls

Garage mechanic examining car tire

Tire manufacturers will inform you if there is a safety recall on your tires. However, they need your contact information to do so. Registering your tires will help ensure you receive notices of issues with your tires and what steps you need to take. The necessary forms often come with a new vehicle purchase, but you can also register online.

Rotate your tires

tire repairer changing the car tire

Depending how the weight is distributed in your vehicle, your front and rear tires can wear unevenly. By rotating your tires, you can extend the overall life of your tires. This is another case of consulting your owner’s manual, as it will tell you how frequently you should rotate your tires. For those that choose to do the work themselves, your owner’s manual will also tell you the correct tightness for the lug nut or bolt, and some provide a pattern or formula to help decide which tire goes where.

And, while the tires are being rotated, it’s also an opportunity to inspect them for damage.

Don’t overload your vehicle

Close up of a woman using compressor to inflate car tire.

Tires use air pressure to support the weight of the vehicle and everything within it. Your vehicle’s manufacturer has set limits on how much your vehicle can carry and tow, and your tires are an important part of that calculation. Check the limits in the same label mentioned above (or the owner’s manual) and follow the guidelines. If you are carrying a heavy load that approaches the limit, you may need to adjust your tire pressure to compensate for the increased weight.

Avoid hazards

Car drives past a pothole.

Sometimes this is easier said than done, but try to avoid routes where you would expect to find more hazards, such as near construction sites or on poorly-maintained roads. We have an article on potholes, but other debris such as sharp rocks, metal pieces, nails, and glass can also damage your tires. These hazards can also affect your wheels, suspension, steering, and other important systems in your car.

Carry a tire repair kit and learn how to use it

Image of a tire repair kit

If the unfortunate does happen and your tire goes flat, a tire repair kit can help get you moving again. If the puncture is minor, a repair kit can temporarily seal the leak until you can get your car properly serviced by a licenced mechanic. It’s important to understand the limitations of this tool, so educate yourself on when and how it can be used.

A flat tire can happen to anyone, anywhere. However, following these steps can help prevent a blowout from happening, how do deal with one when it does, and ensure you arrive at your destination safely.

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