Is it safe to drive with a flat or punctured tyre?

If you’ve ever suffered a flat tyre in the middle of a long or important journey, you’ve probably asked the question, ‘can I keep driving on the flat tyre?’

To help, we’ve put together this handy guide.

Can you legally drive on a flat tyre?

The simple answer to this is no!

The Highway Code always requires your tyres to be inflated to the correct pressure – so a flat tyre means your vehicle is no longer roadworthy.

In a remote location with no mobile phone signal, it could be necessary to drive on a flat tyre in order to reach safety, but again you should only go as far as you absolutely need to. Driving on a flat tyre may lead to internal structural damage, or worse, an accident.

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How far can you drive on a flat tyre?

If you’re ever stranded with no means to repair a puncture and no phone signal, you may have no choice but to drive on a flat tyre.

In this scenario, try to minimise the distance you drive on it for, especially if the tyre is completely flat. However, you should always be prepared ahead of time and ensure you have breakdown essentials in your car at all times.

Check out our breakdown essentials

How long can you drive on a flat tyre?

Driving on a flat tyre is not just unsafe, it can also cause damage to the wheel the longer you drive on it for.

If the tyre is still fully on the rim of the wheel, it will provide some cushioning over a short distance, but you run the risk of the rubber starting to break off. This exposes the metal of the wheel and can cause more extensive – and expensive – damage to the wheel and to the suspension of your car.

How far can you drive on a run flat tyre?

Run flat tyres are specially designed to keep their shape and structure even if they are punctured, thanks to a strong supporting frame inside the tyre. This means you can continue to drive safely on the tyre for a short – but potentially very useful – distance, to reach a place of safety.

Because of the heat and friction the tyre is exposed to, manufacturers will usually state a maximum safe speed for run flat tyres, as well as a maximum range.

It’s important to stick to these limits – they should allow you to get to a sensible and safe place to pull over and await repair or recovery, without putting you or your vehicle at risk.

Can you drive with a punctured tyre?

A punctured tyre is not necessarily the same thing as a flat tyre. Whereas a flat tyre has lost most or all its air, a puncture can often be a slow release of air from inside the tyre.

When you have a slow puncture, it can be possible to inflate the tyre and complete your journey before the pressure drops to an unsafe level. However, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t repair or replace the tyre, as a slow puncture is a sure sign of a weakness somewhere in the tyre’s structure.

You should look for evidence of this, such as puncture holes in the tread or cracks and bulges on the side wall. If you have used a pre-puncture sealant, and you have a puncture, you should see signs of the activated sealant (usually white latex-based) on the outside of the tyre.

Driving at high speed over long distances can again put stress on the tyre – and could lead to a puncture becoming a high-speed blowout if you don’t get it repaired promptly.

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Can you drive with a nail in your tyre?

Many drivers know that sinking feeling of seeing a shiny metal dot embedded in their tyre tread - the head of a screw or nail that has been driven over.

The first question in this case should not be ‘can I drive with a nail in my tyre?’. Instead, you need to check whether the nail has pierced the tyre or not. A short screw or tack can easily get wedged in the deep tread of a new tyre without damaging it – so take a close look, as you might be lucky.

If there is evidence that the nail has gone right through, then again you should get the tyre repaired or replaced as soon as possible. There are examples of people driving for many miles before noticing nails in their tyres. New tyres will usually cope better with this, but it’s smart to be vigilant and give your vehicle a quick check before setting off on a long-distance drive.

Here at Halfords, we want to keep you moving. That’s why we can replace your tyres in over 600 garages nationwide. Or, why not make life easier and get your tyre replaced at your home or workplace through our Mobile Experts. Available 7 days a week, our Mobile Expert service provides the most convenient way to get your tyres fitted.

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Same day tyre fitting

Did you know that we now offer same day tyre fitting service across our garages nationwide? Simply book online before 1pm and we can replace your tyres the same day to help you get you back on the road safely and swiftly. Please note that availability varies by location. For more information, please head on over to our dedicated same day tyre fitting page where you can find answers to frequently asked questions, choose the right tyres for your vehicle and book your appointment.

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Introducing the Halfords Motoring Club

At Halfords, we’re here to get you from A to B while saving money in the process. Join the Halfords Motoring Club today to access a range of amazing benefits and discounts that are designed to keep you moving, keep you safe and keep you saving.

It’s free to join and you’ll receive money off your MOT, a free car health check and a welcome voucher that can be spent on any Halfords product or service.

Or choose our Premium membership for a small monthly fee (or a one-off payment) to unlock exclusive member pricing on all motoring products and services online and across our stores, garages and Halfords Mobile Experts, as well as a variety of other benefits that will help you to keep moving for less.

With so much to enjoy, this is too good an opportunity to miss!

Join the Halfords Motoring Club today at

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