Most of us have had the unpleasant experience of getting a flat. Though it’s annoying, a flat tire isn’t the worst thing, most of the time you can get it fixed or replaced quickly. But what if you cannot get it replaced or repaired quickly? Can you let it stand? How long can you let your car stand for?
Well, typically you do not want your vehicle standing on a flat for more than twenty-four hours. If you let your vehicle sand on a flat for more than that you run the risk of permanently damaging your tire or rim. If you have no choice to let your car stand, then you should jack that wheel up.
What Damage Could Happen to the Tire?
The main damage done to the tire is done to the sidewall and shoulder. This happens because the tire is not designed to take the entire weight of your vehicle. When a tire is normally inflated, the air is what takes the load.
Once the air is no longer supporting the vehicle, the tire must take the entire load. This can cause damage to several different areas. The shoulder and the sidewall of the tire are most vulnerable, but they get somewhat folded, either inward or outward.
The folding creates both compression and pulling forces on the rubber strands of the tire. These forces cause cracks in the tire to form which is the most common reason for a tire’s replacement after standing for a time.
Another form of damage is corrosion. When a tire is punctured there is a chance that the steel belt is exposed to the air. In the right condition, this can cause corrosion which sets in like a plague. The corrosion can lead to delamination between the tire’s different composites which means it can blow out while driving.
What Damage Could Happen to the Rim?
Similar to the steel bead corroding when exposed, a flat tire that is left for a long time could lead to the corrosion of the rim itself. The inside of the rim is vulnerable to corrosion because it usually doesn’t have the same level of protective coating as the outer part of the rim.
A corroded rim can lead to a loss of structural integrity and more likely lead to a small loss of air. The small loss of air will once again give you another flat.
What Are Other Negative Implications?
There are additional risks to leaving your vehicle parked for a long time with a flat. For one, you might get a ticket if you are not parked on private property with permission. This means you will not only have to pay for the tire to be fixed but also you will need to pay the city.
Furthermore, you run a higher risk of theft or vandalism. People looking to do no good are more likely to target your vehicle with a flat than a vehicle with fully inflated tires. The reason is simple, the vehicle seems to be abandoned, which means it is a safer target for vagrants.
If you do need to leave your vehicle with a flat tire, I suggest leaving a note entailing that you will be back so that you don’t get a ticket or get towed. This way you show that you have not abandoned the vehicle.
What Is the Longest Time You Can Safely Let Your Car Stand on A Flat?
You should try to leave your vehicle standing on a flat for as little time as possible. The longest you should leave your vehicle standing on a flat is about twenty-four hours. After twenty-four hours the chances of damage to the tire are dramatically increased.
Additionally, you should not drive with a flat tire. Driving with a flat is extremely dangerous and can lead to an accident in the worst case. Other than an accident, the tire could completely disintegrate which means you would need to buy a new tire and most likely a new rim as well.
What Should You Do If You Get a Flat?
The first thing you should do is pull over. Do as little driving on a flat tire as possible. After you pull over the best thing you can do is to put the spare on if you have it. If you do not have a spare tire, you still have a few options.
Fix-a-Flat and Similar Produces
One option for many people to turn to is something like Fix-a-Flat. Though Fix-a-Flat can be useful in a pinch, it is not the end-all-be-all for tire leak solutions. Fix-a-Flat works by plugging up the hole from the inside, but it has its limitations.
For example, it can only plug up small punchers, any hole over the size of 1/10th of an inch will not be fixed by Fix-a-Flat. Additionally, Fix-a-Flat is not a permanent fix. If the tire is not taken in for repairs after Fix-a-Flat has been used, permanent damage could be sustained.
Furthermore, many mechanics refuse to repair a tire that has been patched with Fix-a-Flat. There are two main reasons for this. One, Fix-a-Flat is nasty to work with, it’s gross, gets everywhere and it burns when it comes in contact with your eyes or open cuts.
Other than being frustrating to work with, Fix-a-Flat also increases the chances of a bad patch job. Not due to the mechanic but rather the Fix-a-Flat itself. Proper patching material chemically bonds with the tire to ensure that the adhesive will hold.
When Fix-a-Flat is used, the surface of the tire is chemically altered which means the adhesive used does not bond to the tire in the same way. After a few weeks to days the patch starts coming off and the leak once again forms.
Portable Air Compressor
If your tire has only got a small leak, you could pump it up with a portable air compressor. Though this will not fix the situation as you have done nothing to fix the leak, it does give you the opportunity to carefully drive a short distance to get the tire repaired.
Jack It Up!
If you simply cannot get the tire repaired or replaced within the next twenty-four hours there is another solution! You could simply use your vehicle’s jack and jack up the side that has the flat tire. This will protect the tire from damage even if it is completely deflated.
You could leave the vehicle jacked up for however long you need it. Keep in mind though, if your vehicle is on the street somebody could steal your jack. Even worst someone could use your jack to steel all of your wheels and then steal your jack. I recommend only using the jack method in a safe location such as private property or inside your garage.
Run flats work a little differently from normal tires. When you get a puncture in a run-flat tire you can still drive up to 50 miles to get to a repair shop. Run flats work because they have structures on the inside of the tire which supports the weight of the vehicle.
Because of this internal structure, the tire is less likely to be damaged if you let it stand. That being said, you should still try to limit the time it stands to twenty-four hours. Additionally, you should never use Fix-a-Flat with run-flat tires.
If you have triple-A they will help you with your flat tire. Triple-A will even change your tire for you if you have a flat. Though AAA might take a little longer than using a can of Fix-a-Flat, it is the better option. Not only do mechanics hate Fix-a-Flat, but it will also be better for your tire in the long run.
If you have a spare tire, you should use it! Even if you are going to get your flat tire changed the next day, the less time your flat is on your vehicle the better. You do not want to tempt fate and have to buy a new tire because it formed cracks while sitting overnight.
In conclusion, you should try to limit the amount of time your vehicle stands on a flat tire to a minimum and no more than twenty-four hours. There are a couple of ways to ensure that you get to a repair shop, but the best way is always going to be your spare tire.
Keep in mind that the spare tire is always your best option. It might take a little longer than just spraying Fix-a-Flat in your tire, but your mechanic will be extremely grateful that you just use the spare. Additionally, the number one thing you can do to prevent a puncture form happening is to keep your tires properly inflated.