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How Long Can You Drive With A Nail In Your Tire?

Having a nail stuck in the tire of your car can be unpleasant. However, accidents happen, and the best you can do is to be well prepared. We've researched how long you can drive with a nail in your tire, so keep on reading, as we'll help you out with this unfortunate scenario.

How long you can drive with a nail in your tire will depend primarily on where the nail punctured your tire. If it punctured the center area of the tire, you might be able to drive normally for around 10 miles.

However, if it punctured near the sidewall of the tire, there is a high possibility of a blowout, and you should immediately stop the vehicle. Take note that continuing to drive while there is a nail on your tire is very dangerous, no matter the location of the puncture.

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Check out the rest of this article to see what factors to consider when driving with a nail on your tire. Also, we'll teach you how to recognize the signs of a punctured tire and how to change one. Read on!

Mechanic's hands, are using needle nose pliers, to remove a nail which has punctured a vehicle tire., How Long Can You Drive With A Nail In Your Tire?

Driving With A Nail In Your Tire

Deep embedded of screw nail on the tire

Having a nail in your tire is one of those events that all drivers will experience at some point. You may not even realize that there is a nail in your tire because of some of the factors that we will discuss here.

Size Of Nail

Size is an important factor for these kinds of scenarios. When the nail that punctures your tire is quite small, there is a chance that it may not even puncture the inner wall of the tire, and you can continue driving a short distance.  

If the nail is large, you shouldn't drive for any great distance. You should have the nail removed and have the tire repaired. Just the length alone of a larger nail means it will likely puncture the tire fully.

Angle And Positioning Of Nail

The location of the nail also impacts how long can you drive your vehicle. If the nail punctures the tire perpendicularly and fully flushes with the surface, the distance you can drive will be longer.

The nail that punctures the tire becomes a plug that prevents air from leaking out. However, if the nail punctured the sidewall, your best bet is to have the tire replaced immediately.

Sidewall damage is different from normal tire tread puncture and is often irreparable.

Amount Of Leaking Air

The amount of air leaking from your tire is also a factor in how long you can still drive your vehicle. As long as it is not dropping rapidly, you should be fine for a few miles.

The lower the tire pressure, the higher the chance of a blowout. So keep that in mind. Check your owner's manual to find out the minimum tire pressure in which you can safely drive your vehicle.

What Are The Signs Of A Punctured Tire?

Close up photograph of damaged wheel - flat tire of an accident vehicle. A car have an accident on a wheel.

Before your tires go completely flat, some signs could indicate there is something wrong with them. You should an idea as to what the signs are so you can prevent any further damage to your vehicle.

The signs are not that difficult to spot. Here are some of the indications that your tire might be punctured.

  • A weird feeling while steering. If your car unnaturally veers to one side while you're driving, then your tire alignment is not correct or one of your tires might be punctured and losing air.
  • You hear unnatural noises. A very obvious sound you will hear when your tires are punctured is a hissing sound. As air is leaking out of your tire, it will produce a high-pitched hissing sound.
  • Your tires look flat. If your tires look flat, there is a good chance that they are flat or under-inflated, unless you're carrying a very heavy load. Take note that some punctures are too small to notice but the amount of air in your tire will always be reflected in the look of the tire.
  • Air pressure loss warnings. Modern vehicles have modern technologies that monitor the tires. This technology is called Tire Pressure Monitoring System, also known as TPMS. It will alert you if your tires are under-inflated.
  • Acceleration and deceleration issues. When your vehicle has a function, it will struggle to accelerate and decelerate, even on level ground.

What To Do When Your Tire Is Punctured?

There's a good chance that you will experience a punctured tire while driving. You should be prepared for this scenario. Here are some tips on what to do when you have punctured tires.

Replace The Punctured Tire With The Spare

Sad and depressed man sitting near car with punctured tire

All vehicles come with a spare tire when you purchase them. The spare is specifically included on the vehicle for times like this.

To replace the punctured tire with the spare, you will need:

  • Lug Wrench
  • Jack
  • Owner's Manual
  • Spare Tire
  • Early Warning Device (if you're replacing the tire on the side of the road)

Step-by-Step Procedure

  1. First, be sure to set up the early warning device to alert other motorists that your car is parked and is being repaired. Ideally, you want to change the tire on level ground to prevent your vehicle from rolling suddenly. Don't forget to apply the parking brake.
  2. Next, remove the hubcap of your tires (if there are any). Use the lug wrench to loosen the nuts of the hubcap. Then pull the hubcap or wheel cover to expose the lug nuts.
  3. Loosen the lug nuts. With the lug wrench, turn the lug nuts counterclockwise. Loosening the lug nuts can be pretty difficult, and you may have to work at it.
  4. Jack up your vehicle. If you're unsure of where to place the jack under your vehicle, consult your owner's manual on where jack placements are for your vehicle.
  5. When the tire no longer touches the ground, unscrew the lug nuts completely and remove the punctured tire. Place the tire on its side and out of the way, so that it's not a hazard.
  6. Mount the spare tire on the car. Line up the rim and the lug nuts and gently push so that the lug nuts are visible through the rim of the spare tire. Screw the lug nuts back by hand, tightening them as much as possible.
  7. Lower the vehicle so that the spare tire touches the ground. Tighten the lug nuts as much as possible using the lug wrench. You may need to use force to secure the lug nuts.
  8. Once the lug nuts are secured, lower the vehicle completely and remove the jack. Replace the hubcap the same way you removed it.
  9. Stow away all the tools used, including the spare tire, before you drive.

Check this video out for a visual guide to the process:

Have The Tires Repaired

It's always recommended to have your car fixed by a technician to ensure the quality of the fix. However, these fixes can be done DIY if you're in a pickle, and the service shop is miles and miles away.

There are three common ways of fixing a punctured tire: the plugging method, the patching method, or a hybrid of both if the puncture is complex.

Plugging

Flat car tire repair kit, Tire plug repair kit for tubeless tires.

The plugging method is often the easiest way of repairing minor tire punctures. The method involves the use of leather or a rubber composite that is plugged into the hole and glued in place using a rubber adhesive.

The excess leather is then cut off to create a seamless tire surface. When you start driving, the heat being generated by the tires is what causes the leather to stick onto the tire creating a permanent seal.

Check out this BETOOLL Tire Repair Kit on Amazon.

Patching

In an auto garage...car mechanic is patching flat tire

The patching method is often used for wide punctures where the plugging method cannot be used. The rubber material is patched on the inside of the tire—hence the name. 

To fully bond the patch to the tire, technicians use a heat gun to speed up the process. However, the heat being generated by tires when rolling will also suffice. The patching method also creates a permanent seal on the punctured area.

Check out this Wokape Tire Patch Kit on Amazon.

Combination Of Plugging And Patching

For very complex punctures, a mixture of both plugging and patching is the best bet. This should only be done by a tire technician to prevent any further damage to the tire.

This method requires technical know-how and experience to be completed successfully. This can also be quite time-consuming, so it's better to leave it to the professionals.

In Conclusion

Mechanic changing tires in a car service

It's never a good idea to drive with a flat tire. You're risking your safety and that of your passengers, and endangering other cars on the road. Do your research and learn what needs to be done when your tire gets punctured.

If you found this post helpful, check out some of our other posts:

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How Long Do Spare Tires Last? [And How Far Can You Drive On Them]