A flat tyre is, unfortunately, something that most drivers will experience at some point.
The condition of the roads and sharp debris are both major causes of flat tyres, frequently resulting in an emergency roadside assistance call-out or a trip to your local garage.
In this instalment of the Cash Emergency Bible, CashLady looks at what to do if you get a flat tyre.
How do you know if you have a flat tyre?
If you have a flat tyre then your steering may start to feel vague and heavy, the car might not be responding as should or you might hear a thumping or flapping sound.
Even if its losing pressure slowly, you need to pull over and check it.
If the tyre is still half-inflated you may be able to drive to a nearby garage, but drive slowly and carefully and stop regularly to check its condition.
Do you have a spare tyre?
Spare tyres aren’t as common as they once were, with many car manufacturers opting to save space by providing a temporary ‘skinny spare.’
There are usually restrictions on using this type of tyre and so you’ll need to drive below a certain speed (usually 50 mph) and replace it with a normal tyre as soon as you can get to a garage.
Some new cars are sold with puncture repair kits instead. These are also available to purchase in car supply stores and aren’t expensive.
Useful for repairing small puncture holes they’re a temporary solution only, as the tyre will still need a proper repair or replacement.
Changing your flat tyre
Where to stop your car
You need to pull over to the side of the road if you suspect that you have a flat tyre.
While it’s urgent that you stop, remember that a flat tyre will keep some structural integrity for a short time, so don’t panic and stop illegally, or veer dangerously across traffic.
Simply slow down safely and find somewhere suitable to stop as quickly as you can.
If you’re on the motorway and have enough control of your vehicle, then slow down and get off at the next exit to stop somewhere safer than the hard shoulder.
In a real emergency, however, you may have no choice but to pull onto the hard shoulder. Ideally do so next to an emergency phone, which is free to use and will immediately connect you to the police who will be able to locate you quickly and easily.
If you can’t get to the external phone then use your mobile phone, giving as clear and full a description of your location as possible.
Put your hazard warning lights on and stay well away from the moving traffic.
It’s usually safest to get out of your car (using the doors facing away from passing traffic) and wait behind a barrier, moving up the bank if you can.
The AA recommends that you never put a warning triangle on the hard shoulder as it’s not safe. If you’re on a road, however, and it’s safe, you can put a warning triangle at least 45m (50 yards) behind your vehicle.
All of the road-safety organisations recommend against repairing or changing your tyre yourself on the hard shoulder.
Changing your flat tyre
Whether it’s a skinny spare or a regular tyre, the process of changing it is the same.
If you don’t have the correct kit or don’t feel confident doing it yourself, then it’s best that you call out a vehicle recovery service or somebody you know who can help.
Before attempting to change the tyre yourself, make sure that you have everything that you need including a jack, chocks or bricks to help keep the car in place and a wheel wrench. You should also consult your vehicles handbook.
Once you have changed the tyre, top up the pressure using your own pump, or drive slowly to a petrol garage to do it there, using the recommended pressure in your handbook.
Take your damaged tyre to a local tyre repair centre where they will advise if it needs to be repaired or replaced.
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