The horrible flapping noises. The wobbling steering wheel. The drooping tire. Nothing quite makes your stomach drop quite like realizing you have a flat tire.

They rarely happen at a convenient time – first thing in the morning on the way to work, on the highway going home, on your family road trip. Once you realize you have a flat tire, there is always that moment of panic followed by the thought “if I can just get a little bit further.” We’ve all been there.

The temptation to drive on a flat tire, even for just a little bit further, is natural since you want to get yourself in a better situation to deal with the problem.

Don’t do it! Pull over immediately!

Driving on a flat tire won’t just make the situation worse, it is also incredibly dangerous. Here’s why.

You may be able to salvage the tire

Just because a tire is flat doesn’t mean it has to be replaced. Sometimes punctures caused by nails and screws are small enough that the tire can actually be salvaged and repaired. Industry guidelines say a puncture up to 1/4-inch in diameter can generally be repaired.

However, if you don’t pull over immediately and continue driving, you could cause the puncture to expand beyond the point of patching. And that’s just the start of the trouble to the tire you can cause. If you continue to drive and cause the puncture to expand or the rim causing damage to the sidewall it may cause a total blowout, not just a flat. The tire will definitely be beyond repair at that point.

You’re doing damage to more than just the tire

As you continue to drive on a flat tire, you will likely do damage to far more than the tire itself. When a tire is flat you aren’t driving on the tire, you are driving on the rim. This can grind, damage or bend the rims, which will lead to mandatory repairs and replacements.

Again, that’s just the beginning of the potential damage to your vehicle you can cause by driving on a flat. Prolonged driving on a flat tire can mess with your vehicle’s balance, alignment, brakes, suspension, rotor, fender and more.

You lose significant control of the vehicle

One of the major reasons we stress keeping tire pressure at the recommended levels is because it makes vehicle handling much easier. You can turn and stop on a dime much easier. As tire pressure gets lower and lower, vehicle handling decreases significantly.

Driving on a flat tire, on top of all the damage to the tire and vehicle, greatly increases your chances of getting into an even worse accident due to erratic vehicle behavior – whether your driving is at fault or not. Throw all of this on top of poor road and/or weather conditions and you are putting yourself in extreme danger.

So please do yourself, us and everyone else a favor: if you get a flat tire, pull over immediately! It’s not worth the risk of trying to get a few extra feet or get to the next exit or pull off. Take care of the problem right then and there, whether that means putting on a spare yourself or calling a tow truck.

If you need a replacement tire, tire repair or spare to keep on hand, bring your car into Raben Tire or find your tire here.