Car Disasters: Flat Tire While Driving

Do's ...
  • Continue to look down your intended path of travel.
  • Keep a firm, steady grip on the steering wheel and maintain a straight course. Concentrate on keeping or regaining control.
  • Keep calm. Remember: Control over your mind means control over your car.
  • Turn on the hazard lights.
  • Ease off the accelerator to slow the vehicle. Once the vehicle is under control, brake gently with steady pressure to reduce the vehicle speed to a walking pace, then gradually steer the car off the roadway — preferably into a parking lot or other safe area away from traffic.
  • If you can't get off the roadway safely, get to the far right and slowly move down the shoulder until it is wide enough for you to stop. (This will probably cause further tire and wheel damage, but your personal safety comes first.)
  • Put the car into Park and set the parking brake once it comes to a stop. If you have a manual transmission, place the gearshift into 1st gear or Reverse and set the parking brake.
  • Once stopped, call for roadside assistance if you have it.
  • If you are changing the tire yourself, try to angle the car away from the road and the traffic.
Don't's ...
  • Don't slam on the brakes. Drivers often react by stepping on the brakes; this could disrupt the car's ability to balance itself during a blowout.
  • Don't make sudden steering changes that may upset the car's stability and cause a further loss of control.
  • Don't drive any farther on a flat tire than is absolutely necessary; tire and wheel damage will result.
  • Don't abruptly take your foot off the gas pedal. This causes uneven weight distribution and can upset the balance of the car.
  • Don't panic. Although your first thought likely will be to get out of this situation as fast as possible, you must first regain control of your car.
  • Don't use instant tire sealants when repairing the damaged tire. They only prevent the quick dispersal of air rather than adequately plugging the puncture. They are useful if you are going to drive less than five miles at low speeds to get to a repair facility.
© Cars.com 04/30/2013