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You shouldn't spend an arm and a leg to cover flat tire repair costs. Know what to do when a puncture, leak, or blowout forces you to fork over the dough.
Rain batters your car as you drive down the highway. You hear a loud bang over the storm. You pull to the side of the road, inspect the damage, and start worrying about flat tire repair costs.
Don’t hit the panic button. We’ll give you affordable options for repairing or replacing the rubber that keeps your car on the road.
What Causes Flat Tires?
Most flat tires are caused by sharp objects like:
- Nails and screws
- Broken glass
- Industrial debris
- A strong stick poking up at the right (or should we say wrong?) angle
Other flat tires causes include:
- Hitting a curb or other object
- A failed valve stem
- Hot or cold weather
- Potholes and bad road conditions
A puncture might call for a simple plug. If the sides get worn or torn from rubbing against a curb or sidewalk, you’ll likely need a full replacement.
Car Roar offers this great tip: Check the air pressure of your tires, including your spare, at least once per month. You might not detect a leak with a simple visual inspection.
What to Do in Case of a Flat
Make Sure It’s Actually Flat
This might sound like common sense, but hear us out. When your tire pressure light comes on, check the air pressure in your tires.
Hot and cold weather influence air pressure, so you don’t want to take the tire off just yet.
Inflate the tire, then look for anything that could cause a leak, like a cut or hole. If you listen closely, you might hear the hiss of escaping air. You can also mix a quick soap and water solution, spray the tire, and watch for bubbles that show where the leak is.
Change the Flat Yourself
Your first option is to change the flat yourself, if circumstances allow.
Popular Mechanics offers great advice with “How To Change a Flat Tire: A Step-By-Step Guide.”
Here’s a high-level view of the tire-changing process:
- Throw on your caution lights (if you’re on the road, that is)
- Don’t drive too far – you could cause permanent damage
- Find a safe spot to park
- Gather every tool you need
- Loosen the lugs, but don’t remove them completely
- Jack up the car
- Remove the flat tire
- Fetch the spare and put it in position
- Slowly lower the car with the jack
- Tighten the lugs
- Clean up the mess and drive away!
You Can’t Always Change the Tire
You can’t swap in a tire you don’t have. According to Consumer Reports, about a third of new cars don’t come with a spare. Several car manufacturers have sacrificed the spare to decrease vehicle weight and increase fuel efficiency.
Your car could have run-flat tires, too. These tires are designed to support your vehicle’s weight for a limited time, even when they run out of pressure.
Tire Rack says run-flats generally hold up for 50 miles after a puncture or pressure change as long as you stay at or below 50 miles per hour.
The site also says you should consider factors like:
- Where the flat tire is on your vehicle
- How much weight you have in the vehicle
- The weather, including temperatures and potential slickness
Instead of maximizing the run-flat's 50-mile threshold, find the nearest service station or dealership.
There are other factors that could keep you from changing a tire, like:
- A bent wheel
- Problems with your back, knees, or joint pain
- Lack of knowledge, and no, we’re not judging
Before you fetch your phone and Google, “tire repair shop near me,” think about your auto insurance carrier. Do they have a roadside assistance hotline you can call anytime?
Pekin Insurance offers Roadside Rescue, which includes:
- Tire changes
- Towing and winching
- Fuel delivery
- Battery jump-starts
- And more!
What It Will Cost You
Your final bill depends on the damage. If you catch a puncture early, the repair should cost between $15 and $30. Run-flat tires generally call for complete replacement.
Tire plug kits are relatively inexpensive if you know how to do the fix yourself. You can find them priced from $10 to $20.
The fix might call for tire sealant, which won’t break the bank at $10 to $15. Don’t drive too far on the sealed tire, though, because it should only last for 50 to 100 miles.
Some punctures are too wide to be patched or plugged. Most suspension systems work best with matching tires, so experts suggest changing all four tires or two tires (both front or both back) at the same time.
If you want more pricing info, check out this chart from Consumer Reports.
*This chart doesn't include installation prices.
Additional Costs and Safety
Once the tires are fixed, you might need to pay for wheel balancing and towing services. It costs between $13 and $45 per tire to have your tires mounted and balanced, and towing services should cost between $75 and $125 or $2 to $4 per mile.
You could avoid these additional costs if you purchase a roadside assistance membership or look into Roadside Rescue, which is available for anyone who has a Pekin Insurance personal auto policy.
Don't let flat tire repair costs keep you down! Talk to your local, licensed Pekin Insurance agent, get affordable auto insurance, and ask about Roadside Rescue.