2024 Guide to Flat Tire Issues and Roadside Assistance

Most of us take our vehicle's tires for granted. Generally, unless a service professional tells you they need replacing — or worse, you have a tire problem while on the road or in your driveway — you probably don't think about them. But tires are the only point of contact between your vehicle and the road. They're a huge part of the health of your vehicle, getting you where you need to go, safely.

Don't wait until you're stranded on the side of the road with a flat tire or other tire-related issue. Curbside SOS provides instant assistance to stranded motorists, connecting you to a nationwide network of over 4000 independent roadside assistance providers, so you can get local help, when you need it. But by learning about common tire problems, how to handle them, and simple ways to keep your vehicle's tires in good shape, you might be able to prevent tire-related issues altogether.

In this article:

Understanding Tire Wear and Tear

Regular driving inevitably leads to tire wear, which, if not monitored, can significantly reduce the performance and safety of your vehicle. Uneven tire wear — as a result of improper inflation, misalignment, or failing to rotate your tires — poses risks not just to your vehicle's efficiency but also to your safety and the safety of your passengers.

Monitoring tire tread depth is crucial; the legal minimum is 2/32 of an inch, but safety experts recommend replacing them well before they reach this point. Regular monthly checks can help identify issues early, potentially extending the life of your tires and saving you from unexpected replacements. Some experts point to a DIY method of checking your treads, by turning a penny heads-down and placing it in a tread; if you can see the top of Lincoln's head, your tires are too worn down. But to be absolutely sure, it's a good idea to have a professional take a look.

What Causes Flat Tires and How to Handle One

Flat tires can occur from a variety of causes:

  • Sharp objects on the road.

  • Valve stem failures.

  • Simple wear and tear.

If your vehicle gets a flat, move to a safe location away from traffic before attempting any fixes. If you're equipped and confident, using a repair kit or changing the tire yourself can be an immediate solution.

However, not all situations call for a DIY fix, and that's where Curbside SOS and its vast roadside assistance network can be invaluable. If you're unsure of how to safely change a tire or if the environment doesn't permit it, professional help is needed. Roadside assistance providers are equipped to either fix the flat on the spot or tow your vehicle to a service center if necessary.

Recognizing and Reacting to a Tire Blowout

Tire blowouts are more dramatic and potentially dangerous than flat tires. They occur suddenly, causing a rapid loss of control. Blowouts can be terrifying, but understanding how to react can prevent accidents. If you experience a blowout, grip the steering wheel firmly, gradually reduce your speed, and steer your vehicle to safety. Avoid slamming on the brakes, as it can lead to further loss of control.

After safely stopping your vehicle, your next step should be to get roadside assistance. A professional can provide the necessary support to get you back on the road — or to a service center for a tire replacement.

Maintaining and Monitoring Tire Pressure

Maintaining the correct tire pressure isn't just about avoiding flats or blowouts; it's about ensuring optimal vehicle performance and fuel efficiency. Regularly checking your tire pressure, ideally once a month and before long trips, can help prevent these issues. Many modern vehicles are equipped with a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS), which alerts you when your tire pressure is low.

However, even with TPMS, manual checks are advisable in order to avoid tire pressure issues. You should find a sticker with your vehicle's recommended tire pressure inside the driver door, or in the maintenance manual. A consistently low tire pressure might indicate a slow leak, necessitating an appointment with a service center or a visit from roadside assistance for on-the-spot repairs.

Seasonal Tire Changes and Challenges

Changing tires with the seasons is a practice common in many parts of the country. Winter tires, for example, offer better traction in snow and ice conditions, but are not suited for year-round use due to rapid wear in warmer temperatures. Using the wrong tire for the season not only increases your risk of being stranded but can also lead to unnecessary wear and even accidents.In the event you do find yourself stranded due to a seasonal tire issue, roadside assistance can help get you moving again.

Road Hazards and Tire Damage

Potholes, debris, and curbs are just a few examples of road hazards that can cause significant tire damage. Preventative measures, such as avoiding known areas with poor road conditions and maintaining a safe following distance to spot and avoid hazards, can reduce the risk of tire damage.

But while cautious driving can usually avoid these hazards, sometimes damage is unavoidable. In such cases, roadside assistance can be a lifesaver. They can assess the damage on the spot and perform minor repairs or, if necessary, tow your vehicle to a nearby service center for more extensive repairs.

When to Get Roadside Assistance for Tire Issues

Deciding whether to handle a tire issue yourself or call for professional help can depend on several factors, including your knowledge, the tools at hand, and the safety of your current location. Here are some criteria to consider:

  • DIY Fixes.

    If you have a flat tire and you're in a safe location with the necessary tools and know-how, you might opt to change the tire yourself. However, if the flat is due to a more complex issue like a damaged rim or if you have multiple flats, you likely need professional assistance.

  • Professional Help.

    If you're unsure of how to safely change a tire, don't have the proper tools, or are in an unsafe location (like the side of a busy highway), it's time to contact roadside assistance. These professionals are equipped to handle a variety of tire issues safely and efficiently.

The local roadside assistance providers within Curbside SOS's network offer a range of services for tire issues, including inflating a tire to the correct pressure, patching a punctured tire, or replacing a tire with the spare. In situations where a tire cannot be safely repaired on the road, they can tow your vehicle to a nearby service center.

About Curbside SOS

Curbside SOS is an open marketplace for motorists who require roadside assistance & towing help but don't want all of the costs & complications that come with road club memberships. We connect motorists in need with emergency assistance professionals to allow them to directly quote how much they would charge for the job in real time with more transparency and tracking than alternatives, getting you back on the road as quickly as possible, for less than you'd think.

Emergency Automotive Assistance Resources

Get Help Now
AMEX, Discover, Master Card, Visa accepted
  • Providers are required to have insurance
  • Available in all 50 states, most requests quoted in 3 minutes
  • Choose the fastest or most affordable
  • Track your provider's ETA on map