Tell Me About Your Flat Tire Issues

Hi all.

Got this new piece from the awesome @GorehamJ about flat tire issues. Tell me about your flat tire drama, if you have a moment!

I have had a few crazy flat tire issues myself… Including a flat this summer, while traveling in a strange city, where this shady tire shop tried to lie to me over and over, until I finally said, “I work for Car Talk, and I know what you’re trying to sell me is overpriced and also not a great fit for my car. So you can go ahead and cut it out now…” :upside_down_face:


I have had a few flats over the decades of driving. I’ve had spare tires in every car I’ve ever owned so there was little drama. Swap the spare and fix the flat some time later. No big deal. A few have been traveling but roll into a tire store and a plug and go. Even had a bizarre flat on my 3/4 ton GMC Suburban blow right around the corner from my GMC dealer. Rolled it right into the service bay. Good thing, too. The spare weighed about 80 lbs and the 8 lug nuts were torqued to something like 150 ft-lbs. A quick patch and I’m on my way.

The drama has come from the tire explosions on my former box trailer hauling my racecar. The first one I did not have a spare, on a Sunday, in the middle of Ohio. We unhooked the trailer at a truck stop and took the blown wheel and tire looking for a a place open with a tire the correct size. We found a gas station with a no-name car-tire not rated for nearly the load we needed but in the correct 15 inch size. A few bucks later we headed back to the trailer and made it the 1.5 hour trip back home. A new wheel and the correct trailer tire replaced the car-tire that was now the spare. That spare was used at least 8 times more as trailer tire after tire failed in succeeding years until the car-tire itself finally gave up.

I have had flats or nails in tires on virtually every car I’ve ever owned. Most of the time I don’t have to change the tire but take it to a shop after checking for leaks with soap.

A couple though come to mind. We were heading from Ohio back to Minnesota with a stop at the Lincoln Library. About 50 miles from our destination my TPMS went off and my tire was losing air quickly. I managed to find a place with air and pumped it up and headed to our destination. The only place open and easily found was a Walmart. They patched the tire that had a 2" screw in it.

Another time my wife was heading out of town on Saturday so Friday night I checked the tires and one was low. Using soap again I discovered a small nail in the tire. She had to be 200 miles away by 1:00 so I took the car down to the tire shop by 7:30. Got there just when the owner was coming in and he had the tire patched in about 15 minutes.

I don’t like patched tires so if they are getting close to 75% worn, I just replace the tires. I’ve never had anyone mess me over.

My flat tires were all at one place: work. We had several buildings spread over an industrial park. One of them was next to a scrap processor. Nails, screws, you name it, and the stuff was all over the road around the scrap processor. I wasn’t alone, most of my colleagues had the same issues. We would drive around the outside of the industrial park and in the back way to avoid the scrap on the road. Usually I’d walk over, but sometimes I had to use the car to carry equipment.

I always carry a tire plug kit and a small air compressor that plugs into a cigarette lighter. before the air compressor I use to carry a small air tank with me. got me out of a lot of jambs over the years.

May seem hard to believe, but I’ve only had two flat car tires in my 40+ years of driving. The first flat happened a couple of years ago, coming home from the hardware store in my truck, tire went flat. Had a spare tire but no jack so had to walk home, 2 miles, then drive my Corolla to get the jack to the truck. When I installed the spare, it was flat too … lol … So had to use the Corolla to drive the spare to the gas station to inflate it. Finally got an inflated tire on the truck, so drove it home. … walked back to the Corolla, another 2 miles, done. Or so I thought. One month later a different tire went flat on my truck, in almost the same road location, didn’t think such a thing could possibly repeat in that short time-span, so of course no jack, and no spare … lol .

I haven’t had a flat tire in close to twenty years now that I think about it.

I had a nice 25 foot tape with a sturdy end on it with points on one end to stick into something to hold it. I was measuring my garage floor and then had to leave quick. I heard a clanging and I had run over the extended tape measure. The two points stuck right into the tire. It didn’t leak but measuring the points and the tread meant that it stuck at least 1/8" beyond the tread. Winter was coming and the tread was down to the yellow anyway so I just put new tires on. Wrecked a good tape measure. Just didn’t like the idea of driving another 10,000 miles on a tire with two punctures in it.

Not sure if this fits, had a flat on our 93 van, out in the boonies of MN, broke a stud, then called AAA, they broke 2 more. Saturday at 4pm of course. Nice driver towed us 40 miles to a station he knew worked Sundays, and they said the could get studs on Sunday from tires plus or similar… So 2 cats and a dog had to walk maybe a 1/2 mile at least to the nearest hotel. So I check in, sneak the pets in as no pets allowed, van was ready to roll at 11.30 Sunday am. SWEET!

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I had a weird flat tire experience some years ago with a 2000 Cavalier. Mom was still alive and I’d driven over to check on her. On the way home, I’d just gone through the four way stop at Illinois 161 and 127, south of Carlyle, when there was a “Wham!” like I’d hit something. I stopped, got out, and walked around the car, looked under it, and didn’t see anything amiss. At no point did I see a pothole, object, or anything else I might have hit. A couple of towns later, I was rolling on a flat. I stopped at a local tire place which, my luck, was about to close for the day. I ended up driving the rest of the way on the donut spare and dropping off the flat at our regular mechanic. It turned out I’d hit something hard enough to bend the wheel, and I still don’t know what it was.

those darn ghost potholes. you never see them but they always get you. and then the cost of the bill haunts you.

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You know I have a lot of flat tires. I could go on and on.

Probably about 1975 I ran over one of those hooks from a bungee cord. Went to change the tire and since it was a new car, I had never used the jack before. The bottom stand was missing. I jacked it up anyway without the stand and stopped by the dealer on a way home to get the missing part.

About 1966 I was home from school and borrowed my dad’s 60 falcon to go visit my Grandmother in the nursing home about 10 miles away. Says me, those back snow tires look pretty well worn. Says he, they’ll be ok. 9 miles one blew out on the freeway. Put the spare on. Told Dad he needed new tires.

About 20 years ago I loaded a new boat dock on my trailer in Minneapolis and took off for the cabin 200 miles away. Made it to within ten miles and the rear tire blew. No shoulder so quick change in light traffic. Luckily the station in town was still open to put a used tire on for the trip home.

I’ve got more.

The last flat tire I had was about12 years ago. It was on my 2002 Chrysler minivan. That as when I discovered that the spare tire that was under the 4 year old minivan was not the right one for the vehicle. The wheel was the right size and bolt pattern but the center hole was to small. I think it was for a Ford.

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As a tire engineer who has examined literally 100’s of thousands of tires, here’s what I’ve found INSIDE tires:

An open end wrench about 6" long.

A railroad spike

Cactus thorns

a 1/2" bolt

A wheel dented in the center enough to create a crack through which the air escaped, but the tire was intact and still holding air

A washer that had been inside the tire for so long it wore through inside surface and caused a leak into the carcass

And more nails and screws than you can shake a stick at


Only once in the past 30 years have I had a tire go flat enough that I needed to put on the spare. Most of time I may get a nail and have a slow leak that needs me to get fixed. My one flat was with my 98 Pathfinder driving on I-495 during rush hour. Hit something in the road and tire went flat. I pulled to the right and slowed down and drove a mile to the next exit. Found a place safe to change tire. By this time the tire was completely ruined - but I was alive. Trying to change a tire on I-495 in Boston area during rush-hour is extremely dangerous.

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Related to me by my mother:
This was in the early 50s, cars had trunks that could be latched without locking.
We had been at a zoo near Chicago, returned to the parking lot, there was a man changing the tire on our car. Turns out that person had an identical car, thought he was changing the flat on his car.

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At a tire shop I used to deal with had a sense of humor what ever they pulled out of your tire be it a nail screw or whatever they would hand it to you and say to put it back on the road some where. :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes: :grinning:


Two flats in 41 years (why I don’t buy road hazard warranties), one when I got back from a trip, airport parking lot, no problem putting on the spare, luckily nail was in center of tread so it could be fixed. Second was a bolt very near the sidewall, time for a new tire.

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I’m generally unflappable in emergency situations but I had a flat on a motorcycle once at 80 MPH that had my heart in my throat for a fair amount of time.

I had been to near Ft. Smith, AR to visit a friend one weekend. Later afternoon headed back to OK City and there was a line of severe storms headed north towards I-40. I was speeding and trying to outrun them with 160 miles to go. After cresting a long hill I felt a wiggle and thought WTH? A second later that bike was going nuts on me. I was wrestling it with all the strength I had and even the lightest touch of front/rear brake made it worse.

It took a quarter of a mile to get it on to the shoulder and I admit to shaking a bit. Even at 10-20 MPH it was a battle to stay upright. Looking at the rear tire I saw the head of a 12" long nail (eave spike) sticking out. It had absolutely mangled the inner tube and blew it out. I have no idea why the tire did not peel off of the rim.
At that speed and a long downhill I would have been ground to hamburger before the slide stopped.

Yikes. Like a novel though where someone tore the last chapter out. So storm coming, 160 miles to go, tire ruined, and no refreshments on board. Did some nice old guy come by and give you a ride? Got a tow truck? I just can’t get the picture of you standing there out of my head. Obviously happy ending.