Tires are not made to last forever which means that they are either going to wear out until they become unusable or that they are going into premature retirement caused by manufacturing defects or various external factors. A flat tire is certainly a cause for concern as it makes the car undrivable and requires you to do something about it.
However, I am not always able to take care of the issue immediately which means leaving a car overnight with a flat tire proves to be necessary. As such, can I leave a flat tire overnight?
Can I Leave A Flat Tire Overnight?
It depends. You can leave a flat tire overnight if the tire and/or the wheel are specifically designed to withstand such abuse. A great example of such a tire is a run-flat tire. However, most tires are not run-flat tires which means that they are not designed to withstand the entire weight of the car if punctured.
If you do decide to leave a flat tire overnight, you could potentially cause irreparable damage to the tire or the wheel. The best thing you can do is jack up the car so the weight of the car is not resting on the tire or the wheel. If you decide to do that, you might be able to save both your tire and your wheel which is a lot better than not jacking the car up and paying for both a new tire and a new wheel.
What Happens If A Car Sits On A Flat Tire For Too Long?
- It causes damage to the wheel
- It causes the tire to deteriorate
- It causes the tire sidewalls to crack
- It causes the metallic parts of the tire to corrode
Does Leaving A Car With A Flat Tire Overnight Damage The Wheel?
It depends on the type of wheel the tire has been mounted on. Given the fact that most wheels are not designed to cope with the entire weight of the car, chances are that the wheel is going to get bent out of shape. If you use low-profile tires, there will be less tire material to cushion the wheel while the entirety of the car’s weight is sitting on top of it which inevitably increases the chances of wheel damage.
Some wheels are specifically designed to withstand the entire weight of the car, but those are becoming extremely rare these days. Certain commercial and heavy-duty vehicles do come with such rims from the factory while regular consumer passenger cars and trucks rarely do.
Does Leaving A Car With A Flat Tire Overnight Deteriorate The Tire?
Leaving a car with a flat tire is one thing, but leaving a car with a flat tire in bad conditions is even worse. As such, if you do decide to leave a car with a flat tire in places where the temperature and moisture levels change frequently, there is a great deal of chance that you are going to speed up the tire’s natural deterioration course.
Tires require proper care and maintenance no matter if they are flat or not, but if they are, they are a lot more susceptible to all sorts of damages. If the wheel pinches the tire, it exposes the inner layers of the tire a lot easier which causes the tire to deteriorate even quicker.
Does Leaving A Car With A Flat Tire Overnight Cause Sidewall Cracks?
The tire sidewall is the most vulnerable part of the tire as far as the usability of the tire is concerned. This means that some types of damage and defects are either more or less severe depending on where they are located. Cracks in the tire tread are not the end of the world, but if such cracks appear on the sidewall, they could very well be.
When a wheel squeezes a flat tire against the ground, it also squeezes the tire sidewall. The difference here is that the tread surface is always getting squeezed against the ground, no matter if the tire is flat or not. However, the sidewalls of the tire stay completely vertically which means when the tire is flat, they are not in their natural shape and position which causes irreparable damage.
Does Leaving A Car With A Flat Tire Overnight Cause The Metallic Parts Of The Tire To Corrode?
You may not be aware of this, but car tires also come with special metallic compounds inside the tire that help the tire retain its structure and to keep all of the layers of the tire glued to each other at all times. As such, tires come with steel belts and metal beads made out of steel, copper, or brass that do just that.
If you squeeze a tire hard, these metal components could potentially get exposed to external moisture which is likely going to corrode these components. These are not treated for corrosion because they were never intended to stick out from a tire, but if the tire is squeezed long enough, these could come in contact with the outside world.
How Long Can You Leave A Car With A Flat Tire?
Answering this question is not as easy as it seems. Some people say that it is okay to park a car with a flat tire overnight, but that is not 100% true. However, it is 100% true if you jack the car up safely. Heavier cars can sometimes suffer wheel and tire damage caused by a flat tire in a matter of hours.
Low-profile tires lack tire material and are virtually unable to cushion the wheel at all. If you own a supercar that uses magnesium wheels, the risks of corroding are way higher when compared to regular alloys which means that even the slightest scratches could render magnesium wheels useless in no time.
If your car uses carbon fiber wheels, you need to know that fixing carbon fiber is an extremely time-consuming and difficult task. You also need to keep in mind that if the tire slips away from your wheel and if your wheel is in direct contact with the ground, you should jack up the car immediately.
What Should I Do When I Get A Flat Tire?
It happens to everyone who spends any significant time behind the wheel, but not everyone is aware of what you should be doing when that happens. First of all, you need to stop driving and get out of traffic to a place where you will be safe. Turn on your hazard lights so everyone around you is aware that something is going on, especially at night time.
If you have a spare tire in your trunk, now is the time to take it out, but be sure to check which one of your tires is flat and make sure it’s only a single tire. If more of your tires are flat, you should call for roadside assistance. If only one of your tires is flat and you have a spare tire in the trunk, you are now going to replace the flat tire with the spare one.
If your car comes with a space-saver spare (donut), you should mount it and follow all the instructions that come with it. Don’t exceed 50mph and don’t drive with the donut tire for more than 50-70 miles because you don’t want it to cause any damage to your car.
Some cars do not come with spare tires but rather with tire repair kits. If you are not 100% confident in your skills, you should call roadside assistance and let them take it from there.
How Can I Avoid A Flat Tire?
You can’t avoid it completely, but you can adjust your driving and maintenance habits to make sure that this can only happen due to external reasons. First of all, be sure to use appropriately sized wheels and tires that are pumped to the correct air pressure as recommended by the manufacturer.
Secondly, inspect your tires and tire air pressures at least twice per month, or whenever you set off on a long journey. Do not overload your vehicle as all tires have a specific load rating that should not be exceeded. Maintain your tires correctly by rotating them, balancing them, and making sure to do a wheel alignment whenever necessary.
Drive safely and pay close attention to road conditions and try to avoid aggressive potholes and potential rocks and other debris on the road. Do not go off-roading with tires that are not designed to go off-road and be sure to take care of all abnormalities or defects you come across immediately.
Can I Leave A Flat Tire Overnight – Conclusion
Sometimes you can leave a flat tire overnight, but if you jack the car up, you can always leave a flat tire overnight. There are no right and wrong answers here as many factors can sway the answer either way. Run-flat tires can not only be left overnight but can also be driven on for shorter distances.
Heavier cars, cars with low-profile tires, and cars that come with high-end magnesium and carbon fiber wheels should never be left sitting on a flat tire.