How to tell if there’s a nail in your tire

You think that you might have a nail in your tire, but how can you actually tell? Maybe you keep hearing a clicking sound when you drive. Or, maybe there’s a shiny something or other sticking out the side of it. Perhaps you keep hearing a hissing sound every time that you kneel to check your tire. 

These are all signs that there could very well be a shiny metal object taking up residence in your tire. And while such a problem may not seem like such a big deal, it definitely warrants your attention. And quick. Why? Because that tiny, seemingly harmless piece of metal could leave you stranded on the side of the road, changing a flat

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What should you do if there is a nail in your tire

Go to a tire shop

Go to a tire shop

Depending on the severity and the placement of the nail your local tire repair shop should be able to repair the tire. If the nail is in or too close to the sidewall they may require you to replace the tire completely.

It isn’t safe to repair a tire that has a nail, bulge, or puncture in the sidewall. If you can safely make it to a tire shop they should be able to give you a quote on how much it costs to repair the tire.

What to Do if There’s a Nail in Your Tire

If you have a tire losing pressure because it has been punctured, you will need to take quick action to remain safe. Turn on your hazard lights and pull over in a safe location. Do a visual inspection of the tire to determine if it is safe to drive on or not. 

If the tire is flat, it’s best to replace it with a spare and head to the nearest repair shop. If you don’t have a spare or never learned how to change a tire, you want to contact roadside assistance for a tow to your local facility.

If the tire isn’t losing air, it might be safe to drive yourself to the nearest tire shop. However, you will want to be careful and take your time. 

Some people swear by DIY tire sealants, plugs, patches, and inflators, but these aren’t meant to fix the problem permanently. If you choose to use one of the unreliable quick fixes, it should only be to get to the repair shop. However, these fixes might increase your bill at the tire shop because they can also cause more long-term damage. 

Signs to know there is a nail in the tire

  • If there is a nail in the tire on either side, the vehicle will slide to that side. The driver will feel it clearly, if it is in the front wheel, the car will drift more clearly.
  • The car is more inert, the accelerator pedal is heavier because the tire is deflated, the rim and tire are in direct contact with the road surface, which will create great friction and make it difficult to move.

The easy way to get a nail out of your tire

Fortunately, getting a nail out of your tire isn’t all that difficult. First things first, if you see one in your tire? Leave it alone. According to Autoblog, if it’s deep enough, it can actually plug the hole and stop air from leaking out from the tire. So, if you see a nail in your tire? Be prepared to leave it to the professionals.

Now, according to Repair Pal, once your car has arrived at the shop, you can expect a few things to happen. Repair Pal reports that fixing a tire with a nail in it may involve removing the tire from the wheel and installing a plug and a patch. While the plug fills the hole made by the nail, the patch seals air inside the tire. 

That being said, not all tires are salvageable after having a nail in them. Your Mechanic reports that if the nail entered the shoulder and the tire’s sidewall, you’ll likely need a replacement tire. If the puncture is in the tread, but the hole is larger than a quarter-inch, Your Mechanic reports that it probably be safely repaired either.

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Change Your Tire

Whether it’s actively leaking air or not, you shouldn’t let the problem fester—change your tire! Even if the nail is plugging the hole tight (preventing air from leaking), driving around on it will only make matters worse. There is a possibility that the nail could shift or work its way free and that could cause a blowout, endangering you and other drivers on the road.  

How to Be Prepared for Nails in Tire

At some point, every driver is likely to pick up a nail or screw in their tire. There are several ways you can be prepared the next time this happens. Consider:

  • Keeping a tire gauge in your car
  • Carrying a portable air compressor
  • Checking your tires regularly
  • Learning how to change a tire

Signs of a Punctured Tire

Can you notice if your car has a punctured tire without checking the tire pressure? Here are 4 signs of a punctured tire:

1. Losing Air Pressure

The most obvious sign that the tire has been punctured is if it is losing air. You can see a flat tire with a visual inspection. If you attempt to inflate the tire and it goes flat again, there’s likely something in it.

Additionally, newer vehicles come with a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS). This advanced diagnostic system lets you know when one of the tires becomes underinflated. You should see a low pressure alert on your dashboard. 

2. Steering Changes

If you have a flat tire, you might notice trouble driving in a straight line. The steering could feel like it is pulling to the side that is flat. 

If you are in tune with your steering, you might notice problems before the tire loses all of its air. This advanced warning will help you avoid any more damage from driving on a flat tire. 

3. Trouble Accelerating

When the tire goes flat, your vehicle will have trouble speeding up. At first, it might just feel like you need more throttle to get it going.

However, when left alone, you might not be able to accelerate at all. This is usually caused when the car starts riding on the rim instead of the tire. 

4. Strange Noises

If the underinflated or punctured tire starts to flex and overheat, a blowout could occur. This rapid release of air pressure can create a banging or whooshing noise that gets your attention.

Additionally, the deflated tire can start to slap against the road as you drive. When this occurs, you put yourself and others at risk because of the tire debris that gets left on the road. 

To prevent these dangerous situations, it’s best to have your tires looked at when there is an initial sign of trouble. With an early evaluation, it might be possible to save your tire. 


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