A flat tire is the bane of any motorist driving around town. They can happen unexpectedly and can turn your whole day upside down. One minute you’re on your way home from the grocery store, thinking about the awesome meal you’re going to cook up for your family. The next minute you’re pulled over on the side of the road calling local tire service shops, like Good Tire, in a panic while ice cream melts all over your back seat.
Depending on the reason for your flat and the severity of the damage, you may need to replace your tire entirely. Fortunately, in most cases, all you will need to do is have the tire repaired with a handy patch. To ensure you don’t panic when you get a flat, we break down everything you need to know, from what causes flats to how much it costs to patch them up; the answer may even be zero, depending on the tire service centre.
Causes of Flats
One of the reasons flat tires are so common is because there are several ways you can get one. Some are very preventable, and some are harder to see coming. Here is a list of the most common causes of flat tires:
- Sharp Objects
- Bad Road Conditions
- General Wear and Tear
- Valve Steam Leakage
- Poor Inflation
Anyone who’s seen an action movie with a police car chase knows what sharp objects can do to a tire. The scene usually plays out something like this: the bad guy is speeding his car down the highway, trying to escape the law, but the police have ingeniously placed a row of spikes across every lane, puncturing the baddies’ tires as he speeds over them. That isn’t a scenario you are likely to find yourself in, but the concept still applies to every motorist on the road. All it takes is a poorly placed nail, screw, piece of glass or sharp debris to put a hole in your tire.
Bad Road Conditions
One of the most frustrating things that drivers have to deal with is poorly maintained roads. The quality of roads you drive on will vary depending on the municipality you live in, as well as the climate in your area. But no matter where you live, you’re likely to have driven over a few potholes in your day. Potholes, uneven roads, and roads with a lot of debris are huge risks to your tires. The worse the road condition, the more likely you are to puncture your tire and get a flat, so stick to well maintained roads as much as possible.
Valve Stem Leaks
Sometimes your tire may be flat even without physical damage. How is that possible? It’s as simple as a leaking valve stem, slowly releasing the air out of the tire. Make sure you get the valve stem inspected the next time you visit your favourite tire service centre. Sometimes all it takes is a thorough cleaning or adjustment to stop the leak. It’s possible your valve stem needs replacing if it’s damaged, but that is a fairly simple process that most tire service centres will do for you.
Proper tire pressure is critical to the performance of your tires. If they aren’t inflated property, the internal structure of a tire can be compromised, making them more susceptible to damage. Check your tire pressure regularly to be sure you’re limiting the risk of getting a flat.
Heat is one of the least intuitive causes of flat tires, but it makes sense with a little explanation. Hot weather makes the air inside tires expand quite a bit, resulting in an increase of tire pressure by as much as 20 percent! In the summertime, when the weather is hot, make sure you check your tire pressure before your drive to get the most accurate reading.
When it comes to preventing punctured tires, the best defense is a good offence, and you can take some proactive measures to reduce the risk of puncturing a tire. The preventative measure you can take is to have your tire service professionals regularly change the position of your tires. What that does is cause your tires to wear out much more evenly, reducing the chances of creating one big weak spot that is susceptible to damage. Continuing with the same concept, rotating your tires from the powered to the unpowered axle effectively promotes even wear and tear. Just make sure you check your vehicle’s manufacturer recommendations first.
There are also things you can do on your own to avoid getting a flat. Drive on roads with the least amount of potholes and debris, but if you have to drive on a poorly maintained road, take it slow and avoid as many obstacles as possible. When you finish a drive, do a visual check on each tire. Look for cuts, cracks and bulges as they may indicate that you aren’t far off from getting a flat tire.
Costs of Patching a Tire
In the unfortunate scenario that you puncture your tire and it goes flat, after worrying about how to deal with the melting ice cream in your back seat, you’re probably going to worry about how much it will cost to patch and repair the tire. Fortunately, tire patches are relatively inexpensive and are a simple procedure for any tire service centre.
Most auto shops and tire service centres only charge somewhere in the range of $10 to $30 to patch up a tire. If you’re lucky, some companies will even patch up your tire for free if you had originally purchased the tires from them. In rarer cases where the hole is too big for a typical patch job, you will likely need to spend extra money for more serious repairs or even a complete tire replacement. Keep in mind that every tire service shop is different and has its own pricing model. Still, in most cases, you will be able to get your flat tire patched up quickly and frugally so you can get back on the road safely.