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Driving On A Flat Tyre

10 March 2020

If you don’t have run flat tyres on your vehicle, you should not drive on a flat tyre, not even a short distance. A flat tyre makes it difficult to handle the vehicle and this could result in an accident. In a matter of seconds, driving on a flat tyre could damage it beyond repair and it will have to be replaced. In addition, you run the risk of damaging the wheels, brakes or suspension components, or the vehicle itself. Driving on a flat tyre could even cause a fire in the wheel well which could quickly spread to the rest of the vehicle.

If you experience a flat tyre while driving, stop as soon as you know that the tyre is flat. Having said that, there are instances where you can’t pull over immediately for your own safety. For example, if you’re in the middle or fast lane of a busy highway, in which case slow down gradually and pull over to a safe point on the side of the road as soon as possible. The other exception to pulling over immediately is if you are in danger, for example the possibility of a hijacking. Even if you have to drive on the rims, the damage to your vehicle is insignificant compared to losing your life.

“Driving on a flat tyre can put you in harm’s way, but if the situation you’re in is more dangerous, do whatever you can to get away,” says Michael du Preez, Executive: Product and Marketing at Tracker. “If you have to keep driving, drive slowly, around 30km/h, to the nearest point where you can safely stop. On a flat tyre you should be able to drive slowly for a couple of kilometres before the tyre breaks up and the rim is exposed to damage, provided the wheel is rotating and not dragging. Keep the vehicle on even ground, on the tarmac is preferable, and avoid bumps and turns. Only go as far as is necessary.”

“Once you have stopped, call for help or put the spare wheel on yourself,” continues du Preez. “Tracker’s Care service includes an assist button inside your vehicle that can be activated in a roadside or medical emergency to assist you with changing your tyre. Plus, Tracker Guard is designed for your peace of mind in the event of a breakdown. Tracker will arrange for a professionally trained armed guard to be dispatched to your location to stand with you until your roadside service provider has assisted you. Tracker Guard is available day and night, 365 days a year.”

Of course, prevention is always better than cure. Tyres are vulnerable to damage from potholes, curbs and other hazards, so make sure they are in tip-top condition. While driving be alert for any objects that could damage the tyres. After all, it’s the tyres that keep your vehicle on the road.


Regularly inspect the tyres, paying attention to:

• Inflation pressure – Over and under inflated tyres result in uneven tread wear and affect vehicle handling, cornering and braking. When over inflated there is less contact area with the road and the tyre is more prone to damage from road hazards like potholes. Under inflated tyres increase fuel consumption and are prone to heating up causing the tyre to fail prematurely and possibly causing a blowout, which can be dangerous at highway speeds. Check the pressure at least once a month when the tyres are cold.

•Tread depth - New tyres have a tread depth of 8 to 9mm. As the tyres are used the tread will wear down. Any tyre with a tread depth of 1.6mm or less must be replaced. For easy indication, if the tread level is flush with the tread wear indicators in the grooves of the tyre tread, then the tyre must be replaced. Do not drive on a tyre where the steel belts are showing through the tread.

•Tread wear – Uneven tread wear is a sign that something is wrong. Over inflated tyres will wear the centre tread more than the outer edges, and the opposite will happen with under inflated tyres. If only one of the edges is worn, there are patches of wear, or one side of the vehicle shows greater wear, this is an indication that the wheels need to be balanced or aligned. Wheel balancing and alignment is important because, like tyre pressure, it affects steering, braking and fuel consumption. Bald spotting indicates worn shock absorbers or suspension. Front tyres wear quicker due to the load of the engine, therefore consider tyre rotation after 10 000km.

• Defects – Check for any bulges, cuts or cracks, and if found replace the tyre. Also check for and remove anything that has become stuck in the tread. However, if something has gone through the rubber, such as a nail, and the tyre is still inflated, leave it in until you can get to a fuel station or tyre repair centre, as removing the item could cause the tyre to deflate.

• Age – Old tyres, regardless of tread depth, aren’t safe. It is recommended that tyres are replaced at six years from the date of manufacture. You can determine the age of tyres by looking at the DOT code on the side of the tyre. The last four digits indicate the week and year that the tyre was manufactured. For example, a DOT code ending in 0514 indicates that the tyre was manufactured in the fifth week of 2014.