Oh, the joys of a flat tire. We’ve all been there. There’s the slow, barely noticeable leak, and then, there’s the startling, bad-TV-movie style blowout that leaves you stranded on the side of the road wondering what to do next.
Wherever your flat tire leaves you, here are some pointers:
Catch it early.
Many late-model cars come with an early detection system that alerts you when something sketchy is going on with one of your tires. Depending on the manufacturer, trim level, and year of the car, these systems may be advanced enough to warn you as soon as there is a drop in tire pressure, which tire is affected, and approximately how many miles you have to safely reach a tire shop (or fix it yourself). Others just let you know your tires don’t have equal pressure, but they can still help you avoid getting stuck.
Even without an alert system installed in your car, there are some telltale signs you’re about to be running on a flat tire.
- Difficulty accelerating
- A dragging feeling on the affected side of the car
- A popping or leaking sound
- Inaccurate or delayed handling when changing lanes, taking curves, or turning
If you don’t catch it early enough…
Plenty of people don’t know how to change a flat tire prior to being stranded on the side of the road. If you’re in this boat, gone are the days of waiting and hoping someone will stop to help. Thanks to smartphones, you can find plenty of tutorials and videos online to help you safely swap your flat for a spare.
Phone a friend
If you’re still not comfortable changing your tire, call a friend or family member to help you out. You’re bound to know someone who can put on a spare tire, and it could save you money on calling a roadside assistance company (although you might want to buy your buddy dinner as a thank-you).
Call roadside assistance
If you’re traveling, it’s late at night, or your car isn’t equipped with a spare tire, calling a pal might not be an option. Emergency roadside assistance companies provide services 24/7 for drivers who have car troubles in less than ideal times and places. If you don’t have a AAA membership or a membership with a local company, these services can be pricey, but your insurance may also help with expenses, depending on your policy.
Call your insurance company
Not sure what local service to call and don’t have a AAA membership? Call your insurance company. Some auto insurance providers partner with services like AAA to provide emergency roadside assistance for their members. At the very least, they’ll be able to recommend a service if you aren’t sure who to call.