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

Robert Herrera-COR-Wheels

By Robert Herrera

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Small, foreign objects like nails and screws are hidden in many places on unpaved/unplowed roads, so the chances of them piercing through your tires are pretty high. 

While replacement tires or nail removals are necessary, some drivers cannot afford all those services right away.

Can You Drive With Nails in Your Car Tires? How Long?

Yes, provided that there is still air remaining. Remember to drive just several miles, not exceeding 50 miles. We once experienced this with a tiny nail and little air escaping and could go for extra 20 miles. The ideal condition to reach 50 miles is no air leaking out.

In other cases, observe closely, and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is the nail small or large?
  • Do the tires still retain air?

If these screws are small-sized and still leave enough air retainment inside the tires, driving on them is acceptable. In fact, it takes even experienced drivers days or weeks to notice such little nails!

For those confident in their skills, one great way to save money is to remove the nails at home. Ensure they do not penetrate your tire treads – and in case they do, take the car to auto service centers immediately for proper treatment. 

On the other hand, driving with huge nails is a big No; doing so causes the tire to lose air quickly. We strongly suggest you go to tire shops. Do not fix them yourselves!

Signs of Nails in Tires

Air Pressure Loss

Low Tire Pressure

Modern car vehicles arrive with TPMS (tire pressure monitor systems) to warn you of underinflated tires. Hence, low-pressure readings will trigger the warning light on your instrument panel dashboard (which looks like horseshoes with exclamation points right at the center). 

The Steering Is Off

Run-flat tires make it incredibly difficult to push the car straight forward. It’s as if an invisible force is trying to pull the steering wheel to the right or left without your permission! 

Reduced Acceleration

Nails stuck in tires cause the car to run much more slowly, placing most of its weight on the outer rims. You often have to apply much more throttle to keep it moving forward at the required speed. 

Strange Noises

Underinflated or punctured tires often overheat and flex, resulting in sudden power loss (blowouts). This sudden pressure release inevitably produces whooshing, loud sounds. Worse, deflated rubbers also generate slapping noises when contacting road surfaces.

Flat Appearances

They are the most recognizable symptom by far; one look with your naked eye is more than enough to spot nails, screws, or any other sharp object.

Things are a bit more complicated with deeply embedded nails, though. The slow leaks they cause might not result in instant, obvious damage signals. You might have to remove the entire tire for more convenient leakage tests. 

Too Much Vibration

Does the car keep shaking violently? No other words are needed; take it to diagnostic services right away! Trying to drive a jerky and trembling car only worsens your situation. 

Blistering or Bulging Spots

Tires with bulging or blister areas should be removed from the vehicle. Otherwise, they may lead to unexpected blowouts and sudden control loss. Accidents will only be a matter of time.

Bulging Spots

What To Do To Fix It?

Going to the mechanics for tire repairs is the obvious answer, but do you know what other alternatives are available? Spare tires!

Though only for temporary usage rather than long-term solutions, they are much better than keeping the nails on. Simply remove your current tires and install them.

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If there are nails in the tires – but they do not turn out flat – it’s possible to drive your car for a short while. Otherwise, that’s a lost cause; have the tires fixed or replaced before things get worse!

Still need more advice? Please write to us via DM or in the comment section.

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Robert Herrera

President & Automotive Expert at COR Wheels

Robert Herrera has been with COR Wheels for 17 years and has a great passion for the automotive industry. During his time at COR Wheels, he has driven and test-driven a variety of vehicles.

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