Every driver will likely need to know how to fix a flat tire at some point in their life. It could be that you walk out to a flat tire first thing in the morning, or maybe a tire slowly loses air while you’re driving. Whatever the cause of the flat may be, you’ll need a bit of know-how to get your vehicle back on the road, so here’s what you need to know about how to fix a flat tire.
Type of Flats
Faulty TPMS Sensor
This isn’t technically a flat, but it’ll make you think you have one. If the light on your dashboard illuminates but your tires are all fine, then the sensor may be faulty. A faulty sensor won’t prevent you from driving, but it’s something you’ll need to have professionally addressed so your warning system works properly when you need it.
This type of flat happens when you drive over something that punctures your tire. A nail, screw or anything with a sharp edge can cause a puncture flat. This can usually be repaired with a kit and is an easy do-it-yourself job, but there are a few exceptions. If the hole is larger than a quarter of an inch around, or it’s in the side wall rather than the tread, or there are multiple punctures, it’s better to buy a replacement.
While a puncture puts a hole in your tire that’s easier to find and usually causes air to escape quickly, a slow leak can be trickier to spot. If you’re constantly putting air in your tire because it’s low, then a slow leak is probably the culprit. These can usually be fixed, but it might take the help of a professional to figure out where the issue is hiding.
This is a sudden loss of air, which can be frightening. If you experience a blow out, stay calm and carefully move your car to the side of the road if you can. This type of damage cannot be repaired, so you’ll need to break out the spare or call for a tow so you can get a replacement tire.
These are usually available in a can. Simply follow the instructions on the can to apply the sealant. This can be a quick, easy and cheap fix, but it’s also temporary. This can be a good way to get yourself to a shop where you can have the tire permanently repaired, but it’s not a long-term solution.
A patch is another short-term fix. It’ll cover the hole and let you refill your tire with air, but it’s not designed to be a permanent solution. Once your tire is patched and refilled with air, this should get you to a service station where you can have the problem permanently addressed.
The best solution when your tire is damaged is replacement. This ensures that the tire is safe and that you won’t have to worry about the old tire failing again after repairs. While a tire replacement can be an unfortunate and unexpected cost, replacing a damaged tire is always better than trying to make it hold on for a bit longer.
Check out all the tire repair products available on NAPA Online, or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information about how to fix a flat tire, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.
Photo courtesy of Flickr.
Nicole Wakelin covers the automotive industry as a freelance journalist for a variety of outlets. Her work includes news pieces, podcasts, radio, written reviews, and video reviews. She can be found in The Boston Globe, CarGurus, BestRide, US News and World Report, and AAA along with lifestyle blogs like Be Car Chic, The Other PTA, and She Buys Cars. She is active on social media with a large following on both Twitter and Instagram and currently serves as Vice President of the New England Motor Press Association.