Driving on a flat

Yesterday I saw somebody driving- albeit slowly- in an Audi A6 with a flat right rear tire. Am I confused- or is that driver just turning a $200 tire problem into a $1200 wheel and tire problem? And no, I have no real idea what Audi rims cost, but I’m guessing they are not real common at the old recycling yard. And no, this guy was not driving to a safe spot to pull over; he was going about 15 MPH and looked like he was heading home. or maybe a repair place. I wouldn’t do it, but then I know where the jack is in my cars.

True, if he drives long enough and hits a potholes or an uneven seam he is adding damage. Tire, tpms sensor, rim, alignment could all be damaged.

I saw his brother an hour ago, driving along at 5 mph in a recent model Avalon, rear driver side tire flat, couldn’t be doing his alloy rim any favors. And he drove by several business parking lots where he could have easily stopped.

Go figger…

But is seems that continuing on toward home or a “safe” location, despite whatever problems have occurred is human nature. Oil lights on, overheating lights on, flat tires, whatever, just keep pushing on and determination will get them safely to… an expensive wrecker trip to an expensive repair.

Driving on an underinflated tire is very common even if it is not wise and potentially lethal. It only takes a mile or two to scrub the sidewall enough to where it becomes a blowout hazard.

At times in the parking lot I’ve made polite suggestions to some drivers about checking the tire pressure because a blind man could see the tires had 10 pounds of air and sidewall issues. All it ever got me was a mildly snide response that the tires were fine so I just keep my mouth shut now. You can’t fix stupid.

One lady with an SUV in the grocery store parking lot was losing the sidewalls on all 4 tires and she didn’t even want to hear it. “I just checked my tires, thank you.” in a sarcastic way and off she goes with the rear window plastered in PTA and Honor Student stickers.

We have AAA. I’ve instructed my SO to pull over immediatly if there’s a flat, put on the blinkers, and call AAA and let them put the spare on the Trailblazer. Several years ago, I experienced a catastrophic blowout after hitting a large pothole (At night) on I35E in St Paul. The second I hit it, I knew I had problems and started pulling over right away. I could still smell burning rubber from the damaged tire and further inspection revealed a dinged rim. AAA truck came, took the car to my repair shop (Driver suspected that my front suspension might be damaged as well and is why he didn’t just put the spare on.) This is a 2001 Buck Regal, a VERY common car. Used alloy rim STILL cost me 230 from a salvage yard. I’d hate to think what an Audi rim costs.

“You can’t fix stupid.”

Often you can fix the car but you can’t fix the driver.

A few weeks ago just after hitting the highway on the way out of town someone in a roughly late 90s Camry passed me doing about 75 or so.

They had a T-type spare on the rear, 4 people in the cabin, and one of those racks with a personal mobility scooter on it.
Car was nose high from weight, wallowing around in the lane, and not many minutes later they were out of sight.

It’s a psychological thing…People do crazy things when they feel their vehicle is becoming disabled. “I don’t care, I’m just going to try and make it home. If I must buy a new tire and wheel, so be it…” You see this same behavior when a radiator hose blows…

I have always concluded that they somehow patch it up to insurance or something else.

There was only one time that we were next to this Mercedes SUV behind the red light and I noticed the tire was bald and loosing air. I mentioned it to the female driver and she actually thanked me and pulled over 300ft ahead in a Good Year store.

Seeing somebody zooming down the fwy at 80+ MPH on a doughnut tire is normal around here.

My kids are still young enough that I can impress them. This summer we were on the highway when a car passed us, easily doing over 80. I said “Hey, see that car? It’s going to have a flat tire soon.” Sure enough, the low tire soon began smoking, then shreds of rubber starting coming off and the guy was driving on the rim before he started to pull over. My kids thought I could tell the future. I just wondered how you could drive on a flat tire and not notice it.

I see relatively minor overheating problems turned into major engine damage pretty regularly. The driver usually says something like “I had to get where I was going.” My response sometimes is "I hope you had to get there $2000 worth because that’s what it’s going to cost to fix your car.

Last week I saw a Merc parked about three blocks away with the front tire blown. It stayed there several days. Now I noticed the car down the street with most of the tire gone but a little bit still there. Don’t know if he’s waiting for a new tire from Tire Rack or a tire and wheel but I’ll report back if it gets fixed before winter. You can buy a spare at the junk yard for $10. They’ve got lots of them that haven’t been used for lake docks yet.

That foolish Audi driver may actually have been turning the flat tire into much more than a situation of having to replace an expensive wheel + the tire.

A6s come in both FWD & AWD models, and–if this particular A6 is one of the ones with AWD–this “I just have to get home” exercise could wind up costing…maybe…$4k to fix. Of course, it depends on how far he drove the car on the flat, but, unless it was a very short drive, this could well result in having to replace the center differential.

My wife did that.
This Audi driver may have done the same…not knowing AT ALL that they even had a flat.
The car is acting wierd
It drives a little funny
But they truly had no clue they had a flat, have rarely or never driven on a flat before.
And the right side tires are never looked at by drivers these days. Almost no one does a walk-around anymore to see what the other side looks like and catch a low tire before setting out.

My wife’s words, as she came home after work after a three mile drive ;
" there’s something wrong with the car. ( 91 Explorer ) maybe a transmission problem ? It doesn’t want to GO , it keeps trying to slow down and it drives rough."

I go out to the parking area and hope to god it’s not a transmission …it’s a flat right rear tire !
( no rim damage :wink: )

It’s not just drivers that keep going when they should stop. Airlines have worked hard to keep pilots from doing this. I just went to a safety-related talk, ex-pilot described how this happens: very experienced pilot, young co-pilot, bad conditions, pilot thinks ‘I can do this’, crash follows. Example was the American crash in Arkansas, bad weather should have made the pilot (one of American’s most experienced) ‘go around’, but he just KNEW he could do it. But he couldn’t…

Us pilots call it the ‘‘almost home’’ syndrome of which I am experienced as well. ( Cessna 172 , 20 miles to home, 40 miles to alternate air strip )
I obviously am still here having made it home, but it is certainly one of those ‘‘experience is the best teacher’’ or ‘‘learning the hard way’’ circumstances.
A most definite, stop and think, sit and reflect afterwards that really gets your blood flowing.

In Memphis, it seems that all right rear tires are low and the T-type spare is included in the tire rotation.

Driving on a flat tire is using the same logic as driving with the oil light on.

Last flat I had was on I-495 in the left lane at 7am. At that hour you do NOT pull off to the side of the highway and change the tire. You pull off the highway (which is what I did). Yes the tire was ruined…but at least I’m alive to tell about it.

Our neighbor where we used to live came down the street driving on a flat tire. He lived about a block from us and came to a stop. I was going to help him change the tire, but he backed up to his house, ruining the tire on the way. I found out a couple of weeks later that he had the beginning of ALS and wasn’t capable of changing the tire.

I too grew up being told repeatedly “Never drive on a flat tire.”, and I believed and lived it.

Now, however, I strongly believe one should continue driving on a flat tire until they reach a point to where they feel safe. Turning a $50 flat into a $1200 tire and rim is peanuts when compared to the risk of getting hurt.