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The flap, flap, flap sound is unmistakable: You’ve got a flat tire. Or perhaps just as you’re getting ready to leave for work in the morning, you notice one of your tires is drooping. However it happens, you’re probably thinking, now what? Can you drive a flat tire?

Here’s the short answer: No.

Unless you happened to get your flat tire in the parking lot of a tire service centre or a gas station with an air pump, no. When you get a flat tire, there are only a few choices. You can use an emergency inflator kit (if the tire has a slow leak), put the spare on or call for a tow. REMEMBER: always get to a safe location before changing the tire, using your remote inflator or calling for a tow, even if you have to drive on the flat for a short distance.

If you don’t have roadside assistance or you don’t know how to change a tire, it might be tempting to see if you can inch along to the nearest service centre, but it’ll pay off in the long run if you don’t drive a flat tire, and here’s why:

4 REASONS WHY YOU SHOULDN’T DRIVE ON A FLAT TIRE

1. YOU COULD DAMAGE THE TIRE BEYOND REPAIR

Tire manufacturers recommend replacing a tire that is flat or damaged with the spare, and to visit a tire service centre right away. If there is no air or not enough air in the tire (which is needed to support the weight of your vehicle), it can cause ‘internal structural damage,’ meaning the material inside the tire can get damaged beyond repair, while the external problem—that little screw or nail in the tread—could have been repaired.

If the flat was caused by a puncture to the tread of up to ¼” in diameter, according to industry guidelines, it can generally be repaired. For passenger tires, large cuts, sidewall punctures and tires with internal damage generally need to be replaced, and you can only see internal damage after the tire has been dismounted.

2. YOU COULD DAMAGE THE RIMS

Driving a flat tire that’s completely underinflated means you’re driving on your rims, which means you’re probably bending or totally damaging your rims.

3. YOU COULD DAMAGE YOUR VEHICLE

Driving on a seriously degraded flat tire for a long period can actually cause a fair extent of damage to your vehicle. As the tire itself brakes apart, separates from the rim and begins to flail around the tire wheel, important (and expensive) components such as brake lines, rotors, fenders and suspension parts are apt to get seriously damaged.

4. YOU COULD LOSE CONTROL AND SERIOUSLY HURT YOURSELF OR OTHERS

If the first three reasons don’t grab you, hopefully this one will. Tire failure can lead to unsafe handling and even loss of vehicle control. Damage to brake lines or suspension components can also cause erratic vehicle behaviour. Both of which could lead to an accident.

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It usually happens in one of two scenarios: You walk out to your car in the morning, open the door and spot it—your tire sagging on the ground. Or, you’re driving and you notice the flap, flap sound of an airless tire. When you discover you have a flat tire, what you do next is critical to ensuring your safety.

IF YOU NOTICE A FLAT TIRE WHEN YOUR CAR IS PARKED

While getting a flat tire is never convenient, you can be glad you won’t have to deal with the extra stress of what to do if you have a flat tire when you’re driving.

Inspect it

Gently run your hands along the back and front of the tire to see if you can spot any foreign objects such as a nail or an industrial staple in the tread or sidewall. If you can’t see anything, your tire might just be low on air.

Put on your spare tire

Either way, it’s best not to patch it yourself. Just get your spare on and drive to a service centre for repair because you can do more damage to the tire’s casing and integrity.

Once you have your spare tire on, bring the flat tire to a Kal Tire location near you. As a retail customer, if you bought your tire with us and your tire is fixable, our Customer Care Plan will let us fix it for free.

Check out our post How to Change a Tire for help with getting that spare on.

IF YOU NOTICE A FLAT TIRE WHEN YOU’RE DRIVING

If you don’t hear your tire going flat, you’re going to feel it. When you have a flat tire and you’re driving, it’ll feel like your vehicle is being pulled to the side of the flat tire, and it’ll feel like you can’t accelerate.

Safely pull over

Get as far to the edge of the road as you can, hopefully in a shoulder area with a bit of extra space. It’s important to give yourself as much room as possible so you’re not at risk of being hit by passing vehicles. If you have safety cones, set them down behind your vehicle to give other drivers an extra warning.

Put on your spare tire

No matter what, don’t drive on that tire. Get your spare on using our handy guide to changing a tire.

If the cause of your flat tire was a puncture, we can probably repair it by patching and plugging it. If the flat was caused by something else, that tire will likely need to be replaced. At Kal Tire, we’ll help you find the right tire and get you back on the road as soon as we can.

Comments | Posted in Car Safety Tips By Blogger

Some drivers describe it as their vehicle pulling or drifting to one side like it has a mind of its own. Often it’s a subtle tug, but it’s enough to let you know something is definitely wrong with your steering components or your vehicle’s alignment.

WHY IS YOUR CAR PULLING OR DRIFTING?

Generally, there are two reasons why vehicles begin to pull to one side:

1. MISALIGNMENT

When your vehicle is aligned, it’s parallel to the road and you enjoy optimum control, handling and comfort. Unfortunately, it doesn’t take much to knock your vehicle out of alignment. Hitting potholes and curbs, and even everyday driving over time can lead to misalignment—and your vehicle pulling to one side.

Learn more in our post Why Is Vehicle Alignment So Important?

2. WORN STEERING COMPONENTS SUCH AS TIE RODS AND BALL JOINTS

If you’re driving down a straight road and your vehicle really pulls to the right or left, there’s a good chance the cause is more than a misalignment.

In this case, you may have worn tie rods and ball joints.

Your vehicle’s steering system uses tie rods—and the ball joints that connect them to your wheels—to turn your wheels in the direction you want to go. Over time, and in the absence of regular inspections, these components can become loose or worn.

What can happen if you let a steering or alignment issue go unrepaired?

  • Compromised steering. The pulling and drifting, and lack of steering control, can get worse over time.
  • The risk of the wheels separating from the vehicle, in the case of loose tie rods and ball joints. This could be you and the people in vehicles around you in serious danger.

Of course, as soon as you notice your car pulling or drifting, be sure to bring it in to a service centre for a professional inspection.

How can you help avoid your car pulling from misalignment or damaged tie rods and ball joints?

No one wants to risk losing steering control or risking wheel separation. To help avoid even getting to the stage where your car is pulling, have a front-end inspection performed on your vehicle annually. Within just two inspection points, a service technician will be able to see if there’s a potential problem with your tie rods and ball joints, and a computerized alignment check will point to any alignment issues.

It’s worth noting that if you have both a misalignment and loose tie rods and ball joints, you’ll need to have both repairs performed. Otherwise, if you have a wheel alignment performed but there’s still excessive play with the tie rods and ball joints, the vehicle will quickly become misaligned again.

 

Comments | Posted in Car Safety Tips By Blogger

 

It’s been a bizarre, severe winter in nearly every corner of Canada, and for many communities, that means potholes. And more potholes. And yet a recent Kal Tire survey shows while 72 per cent of motorists have hit a pothole, only half with pothole damage have had their vehicle fixed.

What does that mean for driver safety? How much damage can potholes do to vehicles anyway? What do Canadians know—or not know—about pothole vehicle damage risks?

In the thick of Canada’s pothole season and to help educate drivers, Kal Tire set out to share the answers to these questions.

1. HOW DOES POTHOLE DAMAGE IMPACT VEHICLE SAFETY?

TIRES & WHEELS

Even if your wheels become bent only slightly, it can lead to poor seals between the rim and the tire, which can lead to leaks and flat tires. Wheel damage can also cause vehicle shaking as well as reduced handling, steering and poor braking performance.

SUSPENSION

Even a single dramatic pothole damage impact, or minor repetitive ones, can cause suspension issues that impair the vehicle’s ability to steer, absorb and dampen shock, maintain road contact and support the vehicle’s weight.

ALIGNMENT

When your vehicle hits a pothole, it’s at risk of becoming misaligned—or no longer square to the vehicle, possibly in one of these ways:

Misalignment can cause poor steering, irregular tire wear and vibrations that lead to driver fatigue. Learn the three signs you need an alignment, and how Kal’s technology and technicians ensure all four wheels are parallel and sitting flat on the road, and that your steering wheel is centered.

 

VEHICLE

Other systems, areas and components that can be affected by potholes include scratched undercarriages and ball joints.

2. WHAT DO CANADIANS KNOW AND DO ABOUT POTHOLE DAMAGE?

Kal Tire’s pothole survey, which polled more than 1,000 Canadians from BC to Ontario, offered some interesting insight into how drivers experience and react to pothole vehicle damage.

KAL TIRE POTHOLE SURVEY HIGHLIGHTS

  • Nearly 72 per cent of motorists have hit a pothole this winter, yet only half the people with pothole-related vehicle damage have fixed the problem
  • 40% of motorists who have hit potholes this winter say that it damaged their vehicle. The most common damage was to alignment (39 per cent).
  • 32% of motorists with damage reported their steering started pulling to one side, and or that the impact damaged their wheel rims (11%).
  • For vehicles that sustained alignment damage, only 44% of drivers have had it fixed, many motorists left damaged undercarriages, shocks and struts as is.
  • Other problems caused by potholes include vehicles vibrating, shaking or wobbling (37%), damage to undercarriage (28%), vehicle bouncing/swaying (22%), flat or damaged tires (17%), body dents (14%), leaking fluid (4%).

“These are all problems that, if dealt with early on, have a much better chance of costing less and giving you less hassle,” says Sean Thompson, mechanical program manager, Kal Tire. “No one wants to be on the road late at night and hear a rim about to wobble off, or feel their vehicle get ‘the shakes.’ Even having an alignment performed will save on premature tire wear, so it’s about safety and savings.”

3.WHAT CAN YOU DO TO REDUCE THE IMPACT OF POTHOLES?

There are ways to help reduce the amount of damage and safety risks associated with potholes. 


 

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