Whether it’s a major blowout or a slow leak, flat tires are no fun. While it may be impossible to totally avoid or prevent getting a flat in the future, understanding some of the more common reasons for flats (in addition to always practicing good tire maintenance) may help you avoid getting one down the road. Here are 5 of the most common culprits when it comes to flat tires.
1. Rough roads
Bumps, ruts, potholes, uneven paving, and scattered road debris can up your risk for getting a flat. If you find yourself driving on a rough road, take caution, drive slowly, and give yourself extra time to safely avoid obvious hazards.
2. Tire punctures
Nails, screws, broken glass, and other sharp objects can puncture your tires and cause a blowout or a slow leak over time. If you see debris in a parking lot or roadway, do your best to avoid driving directly through the mess if it’s safely possible to do so.
3. Damaged valve stem
The valve stem is that little rubber body that you use to check your tire pressure or fill your tires with air whenever necessary. Occasionally, the valve stem will become damaged — either from dirt, corrosion, or wear and tear — which can lead to a leak. It’s always good practice to have your valve stems checked by your local tire shop and to have them repaired or replaced if necessary.
4. Worn tires
Normal wear can also lead to the occasional flat tire. As you drive, the tread on your tires degrades over time, making them more susceptible to punctures and other hazards. Check them periodically for scuffs or worn areas and have tires replaced or repaired by a professional, if necessary. You can also help reduce tire wear by periodically rotating your tires, checking and maintaining your tire pressure, and routinely getting your wheels aligned.
5. Hot weather
High temperatures cause the air in your tires to expand, increasing the tire’s overall internal pressure and the chances that you’ll spring a leak or blowout altogether. And unfortunately, most tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS) tend to alert you to underinflated, not overinflated, tires. During very warm weather, be sure to monitor your tire pressure regularly (the most accurate measures can be taken in the morning, before things really heat up) and do what you can to avoid overinflation.
Remember: healthy cars need healthy tires, so be sure to keep your tires well maintained. Check your air pressure, ensure tires are inflated to the manufacturers’ specifications, rotate them, and check your wheel alignment regularly.