Prevent and Prepare: A Guide to Flat Tire Emergencies

Most of us have been through the gut-wrenching experience of a flat tire—usually when we’re already running late or in the middle of nowhere. The sudden wail of a tire going flat can be one of the most disheartening sounds for a driver, turning a routine drive into an unplanned roadside adventure. Despite the frustration it brings, knowing how to handle this fairly common incident can turn a potential disaster into a minor inconvenience. Here’s everything you need to know to prepare for, prevent, and handle flat tire emergencies.

Call 317-247-8484 For 24 Hour Flat Tire Emergency Roadside Assistance in Indianapolis Indiana
Call 317-247-8484 For 24 Hour Flat Tire Emergency Roadside Assistance in Indianapolis Indiana

Recognizing the Urgency of Flat Tire Emergencies

No one expects to get a flat tire, which is why it’s always so unexpected and inconvenient. The common causes range from punctures by nails, screws, or sharp objects, to hitting potholes, curbs, or fragments of metal on the road. Tires can also deflate due to slow leaks from damaged valves, bead leaks, or even due to extreme cold temperatures causing the air to contract.

You might not always hear or feel a flat tire, especially if it’s one of the rear tires that goes. Many modern vehicles have tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS) that will alert you if one of your tires is low, but it’s always a good idea to periodically check your tire pressure manually, as well as check the condition of your tires to look for any physical damage, uneven wear, or foreign objects.

Steps to Changing a Flat Tire

1. Preparation and Location: The first step to changing a flat tire is ensuring you’re in a safe location. If you’re on a busy road, try to find a quiet and flat spot, preferably a parking lot or a wide shoulder. Engage your emergency brake, turn on your hazard lights, and if you have them, use your car’s wheel wedges to prevent your vehicle from rolling.

2. Locate Your Tools: Your vehicle should come with a jack, a lug wrench, and a spare tire. These are usually found in the trunk under the floor mat or in a compartment near the trunk’s opening. Familiarize yourself with where they’re stored before you need them.

3. Loosen the Lug Nuts: Before you jack the car up, it’s important to loosen the lug nuts on the affected tire. Do this while the car is on the ground, turning them counterclockwise until they begin to come loose (but do not remove them completely).

4. Jack Up the Car: Position the jack under the vehicle according to your car’s manual, usually where indicated along the car’s frame. Raise the car high enough for the flat tire to be off the ground. A wheel should typically not be lifted above 6 inches off the ground.

5. Remove the Lug Nuts and Old Tire: Once the car is jacked up, remove the lug nuts completely and pull the old tire off the wheelbase by gripping it with your hands on either side and giving it a firm pull. Place the lug nuts in a secure spot on the ground, so you don’t have to hunt for them when you’re putting the spare tire on.

6. Mount the Spare Tire: Put the spare tire on the wheelbase by lining up the holes over the lug nut posts. Push the tire on the rest of the way, and then thread the lug nuts back on. Tighten them as much as you can by hand.

7. Lower the Car and Tighten the Nuts: Lower the vehicle with the jack, all the way down to the ground. Then, use the wrench to securely tighten each of the lug nuts.

Safety Precautions to Bear in Mind

  • Always perform these steps on a flat, hard surface.
  • Try to keep all your gear clean and dry.
  • Make sure no one is standing near the vehicle or behind the tires as you work.
  • Never get under your car unless you’re sure it’s properly supported and stable, especially when you’re using the jack.

Benefits of Professional Service for Flat Tires

Roadside Assistance at Your Beck and Call

When handling flat tire emergencies feels out of your depth or you’re in a dangerous situation, a roadside assistance service can be a lifesaver. They’re able to get to you quickly, equipped with the tools to change a tire or repair a flat, and they’ll be able to do it safely and efficiently.

Cost Considerations

While not always free, many newer vehicles come with roadside assistance included as part of their warranty. Some insurance policies also have the option to add roadside assistance, often for a nominal fee.

Non-Tire Solutions

Another advantage of professional assistance for flat tire emergencies is the range of solutions they can offer. In some cases, depending on the type and location of the damage, they may be able to repair the tire on-site, saving you the cost and inconvenience of a tire replacement.

Preventing a Flat Tire Emergency Before it Happens

Regularly Scheduled Tire Maintenance

The best way to prevent a flat tire is by keeping them properly maintained. This includes regular rotation, balancing, and alignment, as well as maintaining the appropriate tire pressure and checking for any uneven or unusual wear patterns.

Steering Clear of Road Hazards

In many cases, especially with punctures, the cause of a flat tire is something that could have been avoided. Taking care to avoid driving over potholes, road debris, or any other hazards can dramatically reduce the likelihood of needing to change a tire unexpectedly.

Equipping Your Vehicle for Tire Trouble

The Must-Have Items in Your Car Emergency Kit:

  • An adequately inflated spare tire that is in good condition
  • A properly sized and functioning jack
  • A lug wrench that fits your particular lug nuts
  • A flashlight with extra batteries
  • A reflective warning triangle
  • Work gloves
  • A poncho or raincoat
  • A mat to kneel or sit on
  • Tire pressure gauge

Optional Tools and Additions:

  • A small tarp to provide a clean surface under truck, should conditions not allow for a clean area to work
  • A small, portable air compressor
  • A can of tire sealant to fill a leak and temporarily repair the tire enough for you to reach a service station or drive it to a professional for further repair or replacement

Regularly Checking Your Car Emergency Kit

Just as important as having the items in your car is making sure they are still there, in good working condition, and that you know how to use them. Routinely inspect your emergency kit during your car’s regular scheduled maintenance checks.

Closing Thoughts

Being prepared for a flat tire can take a lot of the stress out of an already stressful situation. By understanding what causes flat tires, knowing how to change one, and having the tools and knowledge to handle the situation, you can get back on the road safely and efficiently.

Part of being a responsible vehicle owner is preparing for the worst while aiming for the best. Cultivate a routine of checking your tire pressure, keeping an eye out for tire wear, and knowing where your emergency equipment is and how to use it.

In the end, the more you know and the better prepared you are, the less impact a flat tire will have on your day. Whether you’re learning how to change a tire for the first time or looking for tips on how to prevent them, investing in your knowledge of tire care will pay off in peace of mind and, often, a quick resolution to an inconvenient situation.

No matter how well-prepared you are, there will always be situations where professional help is the most appropriate. Contact Zore’s Towing for 24 hour roadside assistance  and tow truck service in Indianapolis and its surrounding counties. We provide towing, recovery, equipment transport, car lockout service, flat tire service, jump starts, refueling, and more!

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Why Did My Tire Blow?

Why Did My Tire Blow?

Tire blowouts are more than just a major, unanticipated inconvenience. They can also be extremely dangerous. There are serious car accidents that take place every day as a result of a driver losing control of their vehicle following a tire blowout. Some accidents can even be fatal. In fact, according to a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there are virtually 11,000 tire-related motor vehicle accidents every year. For this reason, proper car maintenance is vital, not just for your vehicle’s performance, but for everyone’s safety. Your tires require a certain degree of routine care to protect them from blowouts. With this level of tire care, you can spot the signs of tire damage early on and make needed adjustments in order to prolong both safety and performance.

The best place to start is by learning what causes a tire to blow out. Continue below to learn the most common, and what you can do if you ever find yourself stranded on the side of the road with a blown tire.

24 Hour Towing and Roadside Assistance
24 Hour Towing and Roadside Assistance 317-247-8484

Top Causes of Blown Tires

Did you know there is actually a tire blowout season? It’s true, and it’s one of the top causes of blown tires. You see, the middle of May through early October has proven throughout history to be the highest frequency of car tire blowouts. Why? Mostly because of the increased outdoor temperatures. When its hot outside, more people travel, and they travel longer distances with heavily-loaded vehicles. Combined with the hot spring and summer temperatures, tires take on a lot more stress, which can lead them to their breaking point, or more accurately, their “blowout” point.

Improper Tire Pressure

Another common cause of a blown tire is improper tire inflation. Underinflated tires cannot provide the same level of support for a vehicle and its cargo (i.e. passengers, personal belongings, etc.). As a result, the internal components of a tire, such as the fabric, steel, rubber, and synthetic composites, will lose strength and eventually give out. Accordingly, over-inflated tires can also cause a sudden tire blowout from an increase of air temperature inside. Basically, without sufficient tire pressure, the internal bits of the tire will experience too much stress and eventually blow.

Although all cars manufactured after 20017 are designed with tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS) that detect and warn drivers of improper air pressure in tires, they usually only illuminate their warning when tires are extremely over or underinflated. For this reason, it is still strongly encouraged to manually check your tire pressure with a tire gauge for optimal safety and assurance.

Heavy Cargo

Another common cause of sudden tire blowouts is overloading your vehicle. A car can only manage a certain amount of weight, which is specified in the owners’ manual. You must look up your car’s Gross Vehicular Weight Rating (GVWR) to see how much weight your make and model vehicle can tow, and compare that with the total combined weight you need to load inside your car.

A gross vehicle weight rating is the manufacturer-engineered maximum capacity of weight your vehicle can safely carry. If you were to exceed the GVWR, it could cause damage to additional components of your vehicle, such as the drive train, transmission, brakes, suspension, engine, and more. A blowout is even more likely to occur to an overloaded vehicle if it also has improper tire pressure.

Poor Road Conditions

Potholes and similar types of poor road conditions are also common causes of tire blow-outs. Such accidents occur more often at night when the street surface is less discernable, during heavy rains when holes are filled with puddles, and during winter when poor conditions are hidden beneath snow. Cars today have lower rubber profiles, so when they slam into contact with a pothole, their internal walls pinch and fray, causing the tire to blow. By maintain proper air pressure and staying current on routine automotive maintenance, you can prevent severe car damage in the case that you hit a pothole.

Escalating Tire Damage

Also referred to as the “slow death”, a common cause of a sudden tire blow out is a minor defect that slowly deteriorates the tire to a point of blowing. Small issues like a small dent or bulge in the tire wall, air pressure leak, and even a nail that was run over weeks ago, can cause a tire to slowly lose strength and quality, and eventually weaken enough to finally split open.

What to Do if You Blow a Tire

If you blow a tire, you can try to repair it yourself if you have a spare tire or an emergency roadside kit. If you are not capable of repairing or changing your flat, you can contact a local towing company for 24 hour roadside assistance service. They can respond to your location within a short amount of time, repair your tire, or tow you to the location of your choice. Whether it is 3 o’clock in the morning or 5:30 rush hour, they have the resources to get you back on the road in no time at all.

Indianapolis Towing Services You Can Trust

Call Zore’s Towing at 317-247-8484 for 24 hour towing and roadside assistance in Indianapolis and throughout Central Indiana. Our friendly staff is waiting by the phones, ready to help you get back on the road, safe and sound. We operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year, so you can always count on us. Request a free estimate, today.

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