How Long Can a Car Sit on a Flat Tire? (Rim Damage?)

Updated: | Author: Steve Freling | Affiliate links may be present.

There is nothing like a flat tire to disrupt your plans! Ideally, a flat tire can be changed to a spare and you can be on your way. However, not everyone has access to a spare tire. What if you can’t get the tire repaired or replaced right away? Will the car be damaged if it rests on a flat tire?

A car should not be left sitting on a flat tire for very long. The damaged tire should be changed as soon as possible to avoid damage to the tire, rim, TPMS system, and suspension. The longer a vehicle rests on a flat tire, the more damage can occur. If the tire cannot be changed immediately, rest the vehicle on jack stands until the tire can be replaced.

Will a Flat Tire Damage My Car?

It is not good for a car to rest on a flat tire for too long. It will cause damage to various parts of the car, such as the tire, the rim, and the suspension.

Damage to the Tire

If the tire is just flat and not damaged, it may be possible to repair and reuse the tire. However, if the car rests on the flat tire, the rim may press into the tire and damage it.

Additionally, most new cars are outfitted with a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS). The TPMS will display an alert on the dashboard when the tire pressure is low. A completely flat tire resting on the rim may also damage the TPMS.

Damage to the Rim

The rim is not designed to have the weight of the car resting on it. The weight of the vehicle on the rim may cause the rim to be bent or cracked.

Damage to the Suspension

Normally, your car’s weight is evenly distributed across four inflated tires. One flat tire will cause a low point in the suspension. If the car rests for too long in this position, there could be damage to the suspension.

How Long Can a Car Sit on a Flat Tire?

The conservative answer to this question is, not long. The longer the car rests on a flat tire or tires, the more likely damage will occur to the tire, rim, or suspension. Your best option is to deal with the flat tire as soon as possible.

If there is no way to deal with the flat tire immediately, do not leave the vehicle resting on the flat for any longer than 24 hours in order to minimize damage.

How to Store a Car with a Flat Tire

What if you can’t deal with the flat tire within 24 hours? Here are some tips to safely store your vehicle until the tire can be repaired or replaced.

Place a Jack Stand Under the Car

Use a jack stand to take the weight off of the rim until you can sort out the tire issue. Place a jack under the vehicle against the frame. Jack up the vehicle until it is higher than the jack stand. Slide the jack stand underneath the frame. Lower the vehicle onto the jack stand, then remove the jack.

Put on the Spare Tire

Follow the tire changing procedure to place the spare tire on the car until you can replace or repair the flat tire.

Inflate the Flat Tire

If the flat is due to a slow leak, inflate the tire. Maintain the air pressure in the tire as well as possible until the tire can be repaired.

What to Do with a Flat Tire and No Spare

Not all vehicles are outfitted with a spare tire! If you do not have a spare tire to place on the vehicle, try one of these alternatives.

Keep a Tire Repair Kit on Hand

Purchase a tire repair kit to keep in your vehicle. These handy kits contain everything you need to patch and plug holes and leaks.

Purchase Roadside Assistance

Invest in a roadside assistance membership to get a helping hand in a situation like this.

Upgrade your Tires

Consider buying run-flat tires. While these tires are more costly than regular tires, they may save you from the annoyance of flat tires. Run-flat tires can survive most punctures and maintain usability for a short while at a reduced speed.

How Far Can a Car Be Driven on a Flat Tire?

Technically a car can be driven on a flat tire, but with undesirable consequences! The air in the tire normally cushions the rim from the road. The pressure of the vehicle on the rim as it drives over a rough road can be very damaging.

If you absolutely have to drive on a flat tire to safely get out of traffic, turn on your hazard lights. Drive the vehicle very slowly, just enough distance to pull over. Once you are safely pulled over, change the tire to your spare or inflate the tire.

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About Steve Freling

Steve has worked for more than 20 years as an automotive mechanic, and later run his own repair shop for both cars and motorcycles. He's a maintenance freak, and generally pretty good at troubleshooting!

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