How to Avoid Flat Tires


Category : Public Safety, Law Enforcement

As you barrel down the highway on your morning commute, you notice a stranded motorist on the side of the road with a flat tire and think boy, I’m sure glad that’s not me. But seeing that also makes you think, how can I avoid that being me next time? And am I prepared with what I need if it does happen?

There’s no way to completely avoid getting a flat. Picking up a screw or nail in a tire is an unfortunate consequence of life. However, steps can be taken to lessen the chances of a flat, and that’s what we’re here to talk about now.

Let’s take a look at seven easy steps that you can take to help avoid getting a flat tire.

Avoid Hazardous Driving Areas

At almost all costs, avoid driving in areas where you’re more likely to pick up a nail, screw, piece of glass, or other sharp object. This includes areas like construction sites, older parking lots, and areas near dumpsters. Pay attention to where you drive in parking lots. Often there are shattered pieces of glass or other sharp objects lying in your path.

Avoid roads with potholes, as they can lead to damaged tires, a flat, and even other issues like misalignment or damaged suspension.

If you live in an area like the Midwest, it’s nearly impossible to avoid all potholes, especially with the spring thaw. But remember, be cautious when avoiding potholes.Swerving uncontrollably to avoid one can lead to an accident, so you may have to bite the bullet and hit the pothole as your safest option.

Proper Tire Pressure

It may sound boring and simple, but keeping an eye on your tires’ air pressure and ensuring they’re inflated to the proper levels is a mandatory car-care task. If the tires have too little pressure, they can wear unevenly and faster which can lead to a flat down the road. Tires with too much air pressure make the car more difficult to control when driving. Check your owner’s manual to learn the exact tire air pressure specifications for your vehicle.

Depending on your driving habits and the age of your tires, you should check the air pressure on a regular basis, maybe once a week for older tires and more driving, or once a month for newer tires and less driving.

Newer-model vehicles may alert you when your air pressure is low. If this is your vehicle, it’s best to take heed of the warning and get to a service station to inspect your tire pressure as soon as possible.

Uneven Wear Patterns

Check your tires regularly for any uneven wear patterns, or an abundance of wear and tear. Make sure they’re in good condition. This check-up should be done at the same time as checking the tire pressure.

If you do notice uneven wear patterns, or if the tires aren’t in good shape, consider replacing them to help avoid a flat and potentially save a few bucks (not having to pay the extra costs of a tow truck or roadside assistance).  

Rotate Your Tires

In order to help prevent uneven wear patterns on your tires, you should rotate them on a regular basis, often in conjunction with an oil change. Rotating them consistently will help prevent those uneven wear patterns and prolong their life.

Check your owner’s manual to see how often it’s recommended to perform a rotation, but a general guide is usually anywhere from 5,000-10,000 miles.

This also offers the perfect opportunity for either you or the mechanic to inspect the tires for any punctures or wear and ensure they’re in good condition.

Tire Recalls

It feels like these days, recalls happen all the time, from cars to refrigerators to food products and everything in between. Tires are no different, and manufacturers do in fact recall tires for any number of reasons, including potential defects that could make driving on them dangerous.It is imperative that you know or have written down the manufacturer’s name and the model of tire you have. If you have a mix of tires (brands, models), it’s important to know this information for all of them.  

It’s possible the defects could lead to a flat tire, so be sure to keep an eye out for any recalls, and most importantly, don’t neglect them if they do happen. There’s a reason the manufacturers are going to the trouble of a recall, so make sure you take the appropriate steps to comply.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) offers a handy tool to check for safety problems—including recalls—for vehicles, including tires. Check it periodically.

Check Those Brakes

If you notice uneven wear patterns on your tires or significant wear and tear, check the brakes on your vehicle. Worn or faulty brakes can lead to those unwanted, uneven wear patterns, which can then lead to cracks and damage, and finally to a flat tire.

Watch Your Weight

Overloading your vehicle and packing it heavy is another avenue that can lead to uneven wear patterns and damage to your tires, especially if done often and over extended periods of time.One trip home from the hardware store with extra weight probably won’t do much damage, but more of those kind of trips can.

Again, refer to your owner’s manual for the maximum recommended weight you can safely carry, and stick to that recommendation.

Prepare for the Worst, Hope for the Best

So you’ve taken all of the suggested steps for avoiding a flat tire, but guess what? You get one anyway. Hey, it happens. And in order to be prepared for that scenario, make sure your vehicle has the proper tools to change to the spare tire—lug wrench, jack, and a fully inflated spare.

You should inspect the spare tire periodically—like when you inspect the regular tires—to ensure it’s properly inflated as well, and shows no signs of cracks, defects, or dry rot.If you notice any of these, replace your spare immediately.

If a new tire or new tires are in order, look for ones with a good, thick tread that are puncture resistant. Yes, you may pay more in the short term, but the long-term benefits of a good tire will outweigh that initial cost.

Using some common sense and applying basic tire maintenance strategies now will hopefully prevent a flat and give you peace of mind while you’re navigating the roadways.

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