There’s only one part of your car that touches the road—your tires. At high speeds, a damaged tire can quickly escalate into a dangerous blowout and loss of control. Here’s our advice on how to prevent flat tires and what to do if you get one.
6 flat tire prevention tips
Most blowouts happen when tires are in poor condition, so a little preventive maintenance can help reduce the odds of getting a flat. Follow this simple checklist to prevent flat tires:
1. Check the tire pressure once a month
Underinflated tires heat up faster, use more fuel and cause premature wear. Overinflated tires can cause a rougher ride and may be more vulnerable to road hazards. You’ll find the correct tire pressure on a sticker inside the car door, or in your owner’s manual. If you have a spare tire, check its pressure too!
2. Watch your weight
Even if the tire pressure is correct, overloading your car with too much weight can trigger a blowout. Check the owner’s manual for your car’s Gross Vehicle Weight Rating.
3. Check the tire tread
If you don’t have a tread-depth gauge (sold at parts stores), here’s a simple test: insert a Canadian dime into the tread with the ship upside down. If you can see all of the ship’s sails, it’s time to replace your tires.
4. Check for nails, glass or sharp stones in the tread
If you do find anything, talk to your mechanic to see if the tire can be repaired or if it needs to be replaced.
5. Rotate your tires as recommended by the manufacturer
Regular rotation helps tires wear evenly and last longer. Get your auto shop to do this—they can inspect the tires for signs of wear or damage at the same time.
6. Avoid hazards on the road
Canadian roads are notorious for potholes, and your tires can bear the brunt. If a tire hits a pothole at high speed, the rubber can split, causing an immediate flat. If you can’t avoid a pothole, take your foot off the brakes to keep the tire in rotation, this will help spread the force of the impact.
What to do if you get a flat tire
If your car suddenly pulls hard to one side while you’re driving, it’s probably a flat tire. Here’s what to do:
Don’t brake suddenly
Instead, take your foot off the gas and steer to the side of the road. Put on your four-way hazard lights and drive slowly until you find a safe place to stop.
Change the tire only if it’s safe to do so
Follow the instructions in your owner’s manual or on the car jack. Make sure the jack is on solid ground and remember to loosen the wheel’s lug nuts before jacking up the car. If you’re on the highway or a busy road where it’s not safe to change the tire, call a tow truck.
Repair the tire with an aerosol tire inflator
If your car has a tire sealant instead of a spare tire, follow the instructions on the can to repair the tire. Remember that this is only a temporary fix, so get your car to the repair shop as soon as possible.
Get the damaged tire repaired or replaced
Sidewall damage can’t be repaired, but punctures in the tread can sometimes be repaired, depending on where the damage is.
If your vehicle is damaged and needs repairing, call your insurer
Call in or go online to report the accident and file an auto insurance claim.
More than brakes and even seat belts, the tires are one of your vehicle’s most important safety features. They’re the only thing holding you to the road. Now that you know the causes of flat tires, you can keep your tires in good shape for safe, worry-free driving.
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The Personal refers to The Personal General Insurance Inc. in Quebec and The Personal Insurance Company in all other provinces and territories of Canada.
The information and advice in this article are provided for informational purposes only. The Personal shall not be liable for any damages arising from any reliance upon such information or advice. The Personal recommends using caution and consulting an expert for comprehensive, expert advice.